Politics & Prejudices: Vichy Republicans 

Here's something interesting to consider: We know exactly what happens if a president of the United States dies. If the person in that job goes stark raving mad, things might be a little more difficult.

But there's a plan in place for that too. All it would take is for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to sign a declaration that the president is not up to the job, and send it to Congress.

The vice president would then become acting president, until the president was back to normal. What if the president thinks he is mentally normal but the cabinet and the vice president disagree?

Well, then, Congress would have to decide. That might be a bit cumbersome, but that could and would work.

But what if a presidential nominee reveals him or herself to be crazy, or turns out to be a criminal? Remarkably, neither party seems to have a way of removing him before the election.

They do have a system for replacing a nominee if a candidate were to die, or suddenly decide to drop out. In that case, the party's national committee would meet and select a new candidate.

But evidently nobody thought about what to do if your nominee goes roaring mad. Possibly they thought that would be just too improbable to worry about. Maybe they thought it would be a piece of cake to make that so-called troubled person quietly resign.

Ho ho. They hadn't reckoned on Donald Trump.

Three days after his disastrous first debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump took to Twitter in the wee small hours of the morning, and went on the attack. No, mostly not against his rival for the presidency.

Not against Vladimir Putin, or President Obama, or some other foreign leader. Trump attacked instead a Venezuelan woman who had been the winner of his Miss Universe pageant two decades ago.

"Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M. become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?" Other tweets followed. This came after Clinton reminded the millions watching the debate how Trump had slimed her.

Just think about this. With the most important job in the world on the line, Trump isn't waking up in the middle of the night worrying about terrorism or how to rebuild America's infrastructure.

He's obsessing over a woman who won a pageant 20 years ago who he then ridiculed for being Hispanic (calling her Miss Housekeeping) and for putting on weight (he called her Miss Piggy.)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a presidential nominee who has proven that if not insane, he is, as Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley moaned in a later column, the victim of "a serious mental disorder that traps him inside the brain of a 13-year-old boy."

Finley, interestingly enough, can't bring himself to believe that. Instead, he thinks Trump is out to "hand the White House to Hillary Clinton and to destroy the Republican Party."

In return, he expects that Trump will get some sort of big dollar payoff from the Clinton Foundation. Now, while I do not share Finley's politics, he is normally a smart and rational man, and I was stunned that he could possibly believe something that far out.

His problem is that he seems blinded by an irrational hatred of Hillary Clinton, who he seems to believe is the most corrupt person in the universe. In fact, she is a rather ordinary politician when it comes to shading the truth. She seems a lot more qualified and somewhat less charismatic than most, who thinks nothing of giving speeches for enormous sums to groups who have a vested interest in some policy.

There's also, as his own editorial endorsing the hapless Gary Johnson said, absolutely no reason to think she would push the nuclear button, start a war, or do anything irrational as president.

However, there is a vast amount of evidence that Donald Trump is, indeed, at age 70, trapped in the body of a sex-crazed teenager. When Howard Stern asked him if he would stay with his third wife Melania if she were mutilated in a horrible car accident, Trump knew just what to say: "How do the breasts look?"

Told they were OK, Trump responded, "OK, well, that's important." This is how junior high school boys talk and think.

When I was in junior high, in fact, the boys I knew played a game in which they rated girls as if they were cuts of meat: "Prime," "Choice," "Hamburger." Breasts, naturally, had a lot to do with it.

But nobody, not even those kids, thought that's how the president of the United States should talk and act and think.

Forget all Trump's wacky policies; forget the wall and his wish to destroy constitutional protections by "opening up the libel laws," so he can successfully sue any journalists he doesn't like.

Think about his laziness, his unwillingness to even prepare for the presidential debates, his terminal undisciplined narcissism.

The Republican Party has nominated for leadership of the free world a mentally unstable juvenile who their leaders have to know is dangerously unsuited to be president of the United States.

Nevertheless, in an act that can only be called moral treason, many of them are supporting him, though they know full well who he is. They are, in the marvelous phrase of the great documentary historian Ken Burns, "Vichy Republicans," equivalent to the French who sold out to the Nazis during the occupation in World War II.

As I mentioned last week — I recently had a chance to meet Burns, who has created some of the best documentaries ever. Few Americans haven't seen at least some of his epics on baseball, the Civil War, and jazz.

Burns has never taken sides in any election before, telling all interviewers, "I talk about dead presidents, not living one."

This time is different. "Our history of contested presidential elections goes back to 1800," he told a rapt audience at Michigan State University, where he was addressing a forum sponsored and funded by former Gov. Jim Blanchard.

"But never before has anyone been nominated who was totally unqualified to be president," he said, without ever once mentioning the monster by name. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

This bears repeating because this is not like any other election, except maybe the one in 1860 that tore the nation apart for four years, because we could not agree that all of us were human.

Donald Trump doesn't see all of us as human either. In fact, there's not a lot of evidence that he really is concerned about anyone except himself. Yet millions and millions are voting for him. In the long run, if we are ever to save this country, we need to figure out why.

Trump's mini-me

Long before anyone not in sleazy real estate circles ever heard of Donald Trump, Oakland County had L. Brooks Patterson, the Detroit-bashing demagogue.

Brooks doesn't seem to dwell on women's breasts as much as Trump, though he talks even dirtier, drinks a whole lot more and doesn't hold it very well. He has been a national embarrassment, but is propped up by voters who somehow think he is good for business.

Coming soon, a look at the latest attempt to free Oakland County from the man who said we should fence off Detroit, herd in the "Indians" and throw in some blankets and corn.

More by Jack Lessenberry

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