Known as the designated survivor, this politician -- whose identity remains a secret until shortly before the address -- is sequestered away under heavily armed guard against the possibility that some assholes take the opportunity afforded to them by the address to effectively decapitate the country's leadership. If this happens, the designated survivor assumes the presidency. That is, unless someone more powerful survives or conveniently happened to be out of the country when the shit hit the fan, which, and we're only relying on our knowledge of vintage detective shows here, must automatically make them a suspect, right?
There's no particular pattern as to who gets the honor -- during Obama's tenure, the designated survivors included Shaun Donovan (Housing and Urban Development), Tom Vilsack (Secretary of Agriculture), Steven Chu (Secretary of Energy), and Jeh Johnson (Secretary of Homeland Security) -- and the only specific requirement is that they be a natural-born citizen. Considering that they also take possession of the "nuclear football" during proceedings, we'd hope that there's also a sanity check, but, frankly, who the fucks knows these days?
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