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Awakening from the Trump Nightmare

The American people can escape from the ordeal of Donald Trump’s presidency in one of three ways. But if and when they do is an irreducibly political question, not one that hinges on legal possibilities.

PARIS – The American people can escape from the ordeal of Donald Trump’s presidency in one of three ways. But if and when they do is an irreducibly political question, not one that hinges on legal possibilities.

First, there’s the Nixonian method, in which the president, worn down by the fight, simply resigns, scared and unwilling to submit to the proceedings that he sees mounting around him. But could that really be the exit taken by Trump? Does he share with his distant Republican predecessor a strong enough predisposition to melancholy? Can one picture a childish man, compulsive and narcissistic, surrendering without a fight the larger-than-life toy that is the top job in the most powerful country on the planet? I doubt it.

Second, there is Article 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1967, which spells out a process by which the vice president and cabinet can act to replace a president who has died or is prevented by reasons of health from governing. Such might have been the case, four years earlier, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, had Kennedy not died from his wounds. The possibility briefly resurfaced when President Ronald Reagan began to show the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

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