I’m old enough to remember when there were widespread theories in the mainstream media (and among bloggers from both sides of the aisle) about how Trump had squandered his chances at defeating Hillary Clinton in this election. As a result, the thinking went, he was either getting ready to quit on his own or was about to be forced out by the RNC under a fictional interpretation of the committee rules. This led to massive speculation about how that might legally take place, what the GOP could do about replacing him and how they could get the new name on most of the ballots in time. And that was when we still had a month to go. The conclusion most of us reached was that it couldn’t be done even if we’d wanted to.
Now, with only ten days left to go, we’re hearing the same calls again, but this time the worm has turned. Long time Chicago Tribune legend John Kass is out with a column where he expresses his dismay with how far our political stars have fallen and declares that the Democrats should force Hillary Clinton to step aside if they want to hold onto a shred of dignity.
If ruling Democrats hold themselves to the high moral standards they impose on the people they govern, they would follow a simple process:
They would demand that Mrs. Clinton step down, immediately, and let her vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, stand in her place.
Democrats should say, honestly, that with a new criminal investigation going on into events around her home-brew email server from the time she was secretary of state, having Clinton anywhere near the White House is just not a good idea.
Since Oct. 7, WikiLeaks has released 35,000 emails hacked from Clinton campaign boss John Podesta. Now WikiLeaks, no longer a neutral player but an active anti-Clinton agency, plans to release another 15,000 emails.
What if she is elected? Think of a nation suffering a bad economy and continuing chaos in the Middle East, and now also facing a criminal investigation of a president. Add to that congressional investigations and a public vision of Clinton as a Nixonian figure wandering the halls, wringing her hands.
I think it’s already been made clear that Hillary Clinton not only has no intention of stepping aside, but her cheerleaders making the rounds of the Sunday morning shows have no plans to ask her to do any such thing. Part of that is the fact that it’s far too late to change the ballots now and too many early votes have been cast. (For the record, this “October Surprise” from James Comey is yet another reminder of why I’m opposed to early voting.) But if one of the longstanding writers from the major paper in Barack Obama’s home town is calling for Clinton to step aside, the ship is clearly taking on water.
But let’s explore the hypothetical world where the message might have finally sunk in to Clinton’s singularly focused brain that she’s simply too damaged to productively lead the nation even if the Democrats and the media manage to drag her, figuratively broken and bleeding, across the finish line. How might she accomplish it? One way would be to come out this week and make a soulful, heartfelt speech in which she announces that for the good of the nation, much like Nixon, she would spare everyone the pain and distractions of a series of investigations which could potentially last for her entire term. If her ticket is elected, she could announce that as soon as she was sworn in she would immediately resign and allow Tim Kaine to ascend to the office. This could conceivably sooth the nerves of any tenuous supporters who may find the latest FBI investigation a bridge too far but still can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump.
As I said, this is so out of character for a megalomaniac like Hillary Clinton as to remain in the realm of fiction, but it would have some distinct advantages for her party. She would still be recorded in the history books as the nation’s 45th President and first woman to break the ultimate glass ceiling and hold the office. She could even spend a day sitting at the desk in the Oval Office for pictures before resigning. And then she would be gone, leaving her party and the nation in the hands of Tim Kaine, an obviously less controversial figure with a far lower chance of winding up at an impeachment hearing or in jail. If Kaine did an even nominal job of leading for the next four years he would have washed away the memory of his original running mate for the most part and would carry the advantage of incumbency into the 2020 race for his party. And if he manages to avoid any serious scandals for 48 months he could conceivably pull it off.
Perhaps Kass is onto something here after all. Leaders in the Democratic Party have no option to get Clinton to step aside now, but they might at least ask her to make it the shortest presidency on record.