Trump's Diagnosis Could Unleash Amendment Mostly Used for Presidential Colonoscopies
So unless you're living under a rock (which if so, lucky you!), you've probably heard by now that President Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, both tested positive for coronavirus. "Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19," he wrote in a Twitter post which has since garnered more than 1.2 million likes. "We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"
While many people, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have taken to social media to wish the POTUS a speedy recovery since the news broke last night...
...considering the Trump campaign's insistence on hosting large campaign rallies amid social distancing orders and the President's wishy-washy stance on wearing masks, to some, his diagnosis comes with a splash of irony. As actor @Chris_Meloni put it, "This virus is not only HIGHLY contagious, but it is mutating, is deadly, and obviously has developed a keen sense of irony."
While CNBC reports that since the President is 74 years of age and overweight, he is at "high at risk for adverse effects from the disease," former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that the President and his wife "... all have a good chance of doing well. [Trump] was previously in good health by all reports and will get excellent care." This, coupled with new reports that he is experiencing mild symptoms, sounds like a reason for cautious optimism for recovery.
But what happens in the event he can no longer continue his presidential duties due to his illness? The President's diagnosis poses a new question regarding the often-overlooked third section of the 25th Amendment. So what exactly does this amendment do? "Under the 25th Amendment, a medically incapacitated president has the option of temporarily transferring power to the vice president and can reclaim his authority whenever he deems himself fit for duty," The New York Times reported earlier today.
Although seemingly extreme, it turns out this has happened several times before, mainly during everyone's favorite decennial (or more like decenni-anal) event -- colonoscopies. Believe it or not, sometimes shoving tiny cameras up one's ass for an often life-saving procedure is enough to shift the entire power balance in Washington.
Since the amendment was ratified in 1967 after JFK's assassination earlier in the decade sparked concerns about Presidential succession, it has been used a whopping three times, each involving a presidential colon, according to Business Insider (in a fact that gives a new meaning to the term "insider"). The first was on July 13, 1985, when President Regan gave then-Vice President George H.W. Bush his first taste of oval office life, telling him to perform his duties for approximately eight hours as he underwent surgery to "remove cancerous polyps from his colon."
The second and third instances also involved Bush -- this time, Dubya. During his tenure as POTUS, he handed off his power to Vice President Dick Cheney twice, once in 2002 and again in 2007, both for routine colonoscopies. I'm sure that total time of 4 hours and 20 minutes (I kid you not) where Dick was technically President were the best of his life. Moral of the story? Wear a goddamn mask and get your goddamn colonoscopies -- even if it means temporarily giving up your presidential power.