Bucks County Herald

Charles Meredith:

Volunteers and presidential tweets

Dear Friends,

Good morning. My late father constantly reminded me that what made America truly unique was the spirit of the volunteer. The power of American volunteerism is probably driven by the enormous geographic space between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans … nearly 3,000 miles wide (actually, there are 2,891 miles between Philadelphia and San Fransisco).

The mirror of us in the Southern hemisphere is Australia where the distance between Sidney (on the East Coast) and Perth (on the West Coast ) is 2,044 miles. I believe that volunteerism is just as strong in Australia.

Because of that vast distance, American citizens have had to rely on volunteers to keep communities together by sharing the responsibilities of governing and safety – 241 years later, they still do. Last week, on July Fourth, Americans everywhere showed the perfect example of volunteerism’s strength.

In Bucks County, in every village and town, residents participated in parades, ceremonies, picnics and fireworks.

Typical of that spirit was in Quakertown where the American Legion and service clubs sponsored Community Day. Every service club and fire company, plus sport teams and activity-driven organizations entertained the thousands who came to Memorial Park. The county’s oldest band, the Quakertown Band played a free concert before the dazzling fireworks finished the day.

The net proceeds satisfied the expense of the fireworks which lasted more than 30 minutes. For example, I belong to the Quakertown Rotary Club. Our assignment was to cook sausage and French Fries and create “Walking Tacos.” I didn’t know what a Walking Taco was until I spent several hours opening Taco packages and filling them with hot ground beef, cheese, chopped onions and lettuce, plus sour cream and sauce.

They were very popular but not as popular as the sausage sandwiches. I had plenty of sympathy for retired Judge C. Robert Roth who worked over a hot stove for hours. Fortunately, the Fourth of July was relatively cool.

Hundreds of volunteers created the work force, which insured that events like Community Day in Quakertown were successful. The spirit of the volunteer is alive and well.

And that spirit inspired individuals and businesses too. I looked at the list of sponsors; 125 in all. One gave $2,500; seven each gave $1,000; seven gave between $500 and $999; 25 gave between $250 and $499; 72 gave between $100 and $249; and there were 13 patrons. Bravo!!

Item.

Apparently President Trump hasn’t learned what politicians discovered centuries ago during the age of newspapers. Never argue with newspapers, which buy newsprint by the ton and ink by the barrel. Our dear president may be exciting his base but that base might not be large nor strong enough to keep a majority of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives after next year.

When President Trump tweeted his insults to the hosts of “Morning Joe” (Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC), he stirred up a hornet’s nest. Politicians on both sides of the aisle were quick to criticize him. This is what the Associated Press wrote: “President Donald Trump launched a rude Twitter attack on the brains, looks and temperament of a female TV personality drawing bipartisan howls of outrange and leaving fellow Republicans beseeching him, ‘Stop, please just stop.’

“The tweets served to unite Democrats and Republicans for once in a chorus of protest that amounted to perhaps the loudest outcry since Trump took office,” the AP continued. “But his allies cast his outburst as positive … an example of his refusal to be bullied.”

Several of you readers have suggested that the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution might end the Trump presidency prematurely. This is what “Vox” had to say in my Internetsearch: “If the vice president and a majority of the cabinet conclude that a president is unwell, they can legally do something about it.”

Even conservatives … including the New York Times’ Ross Douthat and David Brooks plus the Washington Post’s George Will … are beginning to say it out loud: the president might be mentally unfit to govern.

The 25th Amendment states that if, for whatever reason, the vice president and a majority of the 15 sitting cabinet secretaries decide that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” they can simply put that down in writing and send it to these two people … the speaker of the House of Representatives (Paul Ryan) and the Senate’s President Pro Tem (Orin Hatch).

If the President wants to dispute this move, he can, but then it would be up to Congress to settle the matter with a vote. A two-thirds majority in both houses would be necessary to keep the vice president in charge. If that threshold isn’t reached, the president would regain his powers.

What’s the background of the 25th Amendment? The chaos and instability that followed John F. Kennedy’s assassination spurred Congress to move toward solving competency problems. It moved quickly, passing what become the 25th Amendment in 1965 and winning its ratification in the 50 states during 1967.

So all Vice President Pence and eight cabinet secretaries have to do is put in writing that the president is “unable” and send that message to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate President Pro Tem Orin Hatch. Then the veep immediately takes on the president’s powers and duties.

How likely is it that President Trump will be “trumped?” In my opinion, not very. We’ll see. Stay tuned.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith

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