January 28, 2009

Russ Feingold's proposed constitutional amendment.

ABC News reports:
Following controversy over the appointments of three of the four Senate seats vacated after the 2008 presidential election, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would leave it up to voters -- and not the state governors -- to fill the empty seats.

"When you don't use the idea of 'one person, one vote' it's an invitation to corruption, embarrassment or abuse," Feingold, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, told ABCNews.com. "It's unattractive and undemocratic."
How can a Senator talk about "one person, one vote"? The Senate is a monument to the opposite of "one person, one vote"!
In Feingold's home state of Wisconsin, special elections are mandated under state law when U.S. Senate seats are vacated, and gubernatorial appointments are not an option. Only one other state, Oregon, uses a similar system.

"I've always believed in and been proud of the fact that Wisconsin has never used the system" of having the governor appoint a senator, said Feingold.
Well, that's because the people of Wisconsin set things up that way. And if the people of New York or the people of Illinois would like to adopt the same system, they are free to do it, so what is the point of a constitutional amendment forcing them to do it?

Considering the difficulty of amending the Constitution, if it's such a bad idea to have gubernatorial appointments, wouldn't it be easier for the states individually to change their own process? You have to think the appointment process is so bad that we shouldn't tolerate those states where people happen to prefer it. These states must be dragged up to the level that the rest of us have decided is right. But is this that sort of thing? Is there something that pernicious about appointments? You can point to Blagojevich, but he was caught. (Yes, he still got to make the appointment.) Are you going to throw Paterson in with Blagojevich? That's hardly fair to Governor Paterson! He did nothing wrong... other than pick someone who is perhaps more conservative than you'd like.

69 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Well, that's because the people of Wisconsin set things up that way.

The country (and world) would be a lot better off if everyone did things the Wisconsin way. (For example: Free Interstate Highways!) But I don't quite see the need to mandate it.

EDH said...

Considering the difficulty of amending the Constitution, if it's such a bad idea to have gubernatorial appointments, wouldn't it be easier for the states individually to change their own process?

Why not leave it to the states? Two vainglorious words.

"Feingold Amendment."

Trevor Jackson said...

"someone who is perhaps more conservative that you'd like"

Not sure if that's a typo or if you're presuming who I'd (or Feingold?) prefer New York have as its senator.

JAL said...

Yeah, well, I remember clearly after the 2000 presidential election newly elected now former Senator Clinton (my how time flies!) pontificationg about how she was going to propose a constitutinal amendment disbanding the Electoral College.

She didn't get much out of her basic civics class, or government law in law school (is there such a class ;-) ).

This will go nowhere, and for good reason.

Get a grip Russ. One doesn't alter the US Constitution because one or two or a dozen people do something you don't like.

The Illinois seat is for the people of Illinois, not Russ Feingold's consituency. Let Illinois handle it. (Which I think they did.) Meddler.

Sheesh.

AJ Lynch said...

Four replacements and all were mae by Dem governors.

IL was corrupted.
DE was cronyism placeholder selected to serve the royal Bidens.
NY became a loony PALapaloozers fest.
CO chose an unknown who is a bit of a carpetbagger.

Feingold wants to take the power out of the hands of the DEM governors. How about that!

Fred4Pres said...

Why is this so bad? Voters getting to choose who will represent them in Congress? I am all for states rights, but putting the power in the hands of the people of that state is better than putting it in one person who happens to be governor at the time.

SeniorD said...

Wasn't the Constitution amended to permit popular election of Senators already? Given the extremely low probability of a State's population and their political views radically changing in the six (6) years of 'service', a Senator basically has a job for life.

If an Amendment is proposed, it should be to revert to Statehouse Senatorial selection. At least that way the citizens have some recourse for change by voting out the existing Governor.

Ann Althouse said...

"more conservative that you'd like"

should be

"more conservative than you'd like"

fixed now

Original Mike said...

The country (and world) would be a lot better off if everyone did things the Wisconsin way.

Damn straight! I think we should require those cheesehead hats.

TMink said...

I thought this was a decent idea until someone brought up state's rights. It is still a decent idea, but I will pass it to a couple of people I know in our state Senate.

This is a state issue, even though Feingold is correct in this matter as far as I see.

Trey

TosaGuy said...

Have no problem with Feingold proposing a constitutional amendment....because that is the correct way for the Federal gov't to change such a procedure, rather than the seemingly prefered way...using the courts.

With that said, I think it is unnecessary because each state can fix this issue if it wants too. It can also be like Nebraska and Maine with regard to awarding electoral votes by who won each House Rep district. Isn't federalism fun!

This is just Feingold being the preening publicity hound that he is. Although I did call his office thanking him for voting against the tax cheater. He is now on an anti-pork kick...if that was truly the case he would vote against the impending porkulus bill.

Balfegor said...

"When you don't use the idea of 'one person, one vote' it's an invitation to corruption, embarrassment or abuse," Feingold, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, told ABCNews.com. "It's unattractive and undemocratic."

One man, one vote -- the governor is the man, and he has the vote.

Original Mike said...

Although I did call his office thanking him for voting against the tax cheater.

He did? Good for him.

Synova said...

We're talking about *requiring* a popular vote to replace Senators or Congresspersons?

What happens if a replacement has to be made while congress is in session?

In theory it sounds nice, but the issue is how to best replace someone who drops over dead the day before an important vote. This latest stuff is only an issue because there were three Senators (only?) who we knew for *months* now, were going to have to be replaced.

Maybe the rule change ought to be that SENATORS COMPLETE THEIR TERMS.

Hm?

Simon said...

Someone brought this up the other day, and I stand by my comments then. This is a reprehensible move by Feingold. Not only is this totally unnecessary (nothing in the Seventeenth Amendment requires state legislatures to permit gubernatorial appointments, so, if we really want to do away with them, we can do so without amending the Constitution), not only is there no good reason to do this (that a Democratic governor embarrassed the party fails dismally in the mustard-cutting stakes), but there is at least one very good reason not to do it.

Think of the issue through the lens of continuity of government. This issue was repeatedly discussed after 9/11, and one might have thought that Feingold would have dragged himself away from preening to the left fringe to pay attention: What happens in a crisis, where a significant fraction of Congress has been wiped out? One of the problems, it was observed, was that the House, unlike the Senate, lacked any kind of survival mechanism. Whereas vacant seats in the Senate could be filled by appointments, allowing it to get back on its feet fairly quickly, there is no process by which the House could be reconstituted other than by election. In the chaos following the sort of attack that wipes out Congress, that could take months - leaving us with no functioning legislature in the meantime. That's a horrible result, and even more so for those who are skeptical of unchecked executive power: it would be absurd to suggest that the nation hold its breath and wait for Congress to get back on the rails. The reality is that in such a scenario, the executive would not - could not - wait for Congress to provide statutory response; the executive would respond by assuming emergency powers as necessary.

Feingold's proposal takes a bad situation and makes it worse. In the event of such an attack, much of the cabinet may have been wiped out. Because of the Senate's appointive survival mechanism, however, it would be reconstituted rapidly, and this has obvious value. Even without a House to allow the passage of legislation, the survival of the Senate would allow something close to normal (albeit highly deferential) evaluation of the President's replacement officers, as opposed to the President simply appointing whoever seemed appropriate, and at least some legislative oversight of the executive's response. Senator Feingold's dimwitted and shortsighted proposal destroys the flexibility that makes this scenario possible, guaranteeing that in the event of a catastrophe, our nation's future will be in the hands of whichever man or woman is the senior surviving member of the Presidential line of succession.

This is a safety valve that anyone who is seriously concerned with executive power in the aftermath of a serious attack would recognize as paramount. I cannot understand how Feingold, who styles himself a critic of the robust executive, could put petty vengeance for embarrassing the party over the survival of the Republic.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Given the extremely low probability of a State's population and their political views radically changing in the six (6) years of 'service', a Senator basically has a job for life.

You must not have paid much attention to the Senate elections of 2008.

JAL said...

Like Simon said.

Big picture.

traditionalguy said...

I remember the Federalist's and the Jeffersonian's had differing goals; (1)the federalists wanted to preserve the influence of the Educated natural ruling elites only recently cut lose from English Aristocracy with no King left. (2) but the jeffersonians wanted to empower the people, evan to the extent of the unruly Scots-Irish over mountain types who were breeding up a storm. So they each got one house of congress, with the Senate designed to be closely guarded from popular (read: more population than our group)votes.Why not leave this grand compromise that works well alone, said the Traditionalist.

SteveR said...

Illinois voted the crook in and his pick of a replacement senator thus obviously reflects their good judgement or lack thereof.

People need to realize that instictive voting habits based on party is the fuel for cronyism.

campy said...

That's a horrible result, and even more so for those who are skeptical of unchecked executive power

In the Age of Obama, only racists are skeptical of executive power.

TosaGuy said...

Good post Simon. I had not thought of that.

Picking apart Russ a little bit more...If Russ truly wanted to ensure that the people were picking their senators, his amendment would also include in his amendment that all Senators had to be elected with over 50 percent of the vote...like how Georgia does business with a runoff. This would wipe out the mess happening in MN.

dbp said...

Feingold's proposal is nonsensical.
Three quarters of the states must ratify for it to become law. Oregon and Wisconsin might vote for it, but why would any other state do so?

TosaGuy said...

I just reread my post....i wish Blogger had a comment edit feature.

reader_iam said...

Let's just dissolve all the states and have everyone vote for everyone in mass vote-offs and be done with it. What the hell. One set of rules, one way to do things.

States. Who needs 'em?

(Feingold: Mind your business.)

Shanna said...

Why can't he just leave other states alone? There are valid reasons to let the governor appoint a Senator/Rep. It's cheaper. The governor was duly elected, so unless your governor is utterly corrupt, it shouldn't be an issue.

Eli Blake said...

Hey, what's wrong with Gubernatorial appointments? If people don't like the appointment they get to vote on it in two years and they can pick someone else at the ballot box anyway.

Besides, if they really don't like it then they can also pick someone else for Governor the next time around as well.

Simon said...

Interesting that the House is characterized as "leading." I would say the House is the laggard, not the vanguard.

Simon said...

I mean, this is another example of what I was saying yesterday about the fetishization of democracy. There's a presumption entertained by some - evidently including Feingold - that everything is better when there are more elections. That is simply not so; there are situations in which holding an election is not the right approach, and requiring one is precisely the wrong approach. This is just such an instance. One does not have to agree with me that popular election of Senators was a mistake to agree that removing the flexibility of the vacancy clause would be even sillier in this day and age.

The virtue of the system as it stands is flexibility: states may choose for themselves - and, should crisis overtake those preferences, it is not at all beyond imagination that a sufficient number of state legislatures would give the power if it had previously been withheld, preferring that to a President unchecked by a Senate.

reader_iam said...

Also--unless I'm much mistaken--in New York's case, anyway, Gillibrand's appointment is not to fill out the Senate term. It's to fill the time between now and a special election in 2010, which in turn will fill the seat until the next regular time the seat would be up for re-election (2012, I think).

Haven't read Feingold's proposed amendment. Does it ALSO specify deadline, time, date & etc. for special elections? Just curious ... .

Simon said...

The principle that I'm getting at is that a good system is designed in a way that allows it to continue functioning in crisis situations. The President will and must respond in the event of a crisis; if there is no way to do so within the system, she will do so outside of the system. That's suboptimal, because systemic norms then become irrelevant and lose their power to constrain. Far better to build into the system processes that minimize the extent to which a crisis forces us out of the normal operation of the system.

Original Mike said...

Not that I want to argue for Feingold's proposal, but it seems like you could cover your catastrope scenario, Simon, by allowing appointments if some percentage of either house is lost all at once.

Father Martin Fox said...

Re: Feingold's proposal: Dumb idea, especially given Simon's good points.

My idea? Repeal the 17th Amendment, and restore the balance the Founders accomplished, to wit: the House, by being directly elected, tends to be the "tribune of the people" and will be given to federal action; the Senate, being the voice of the state governments, would tend to oppose such moves--hence only those things enjoying strong enough support, that state legislators would feel the pressure too, would pass.

As a result of direct election of the Senate, this differential is lost, and this, along with other changes, has taken the brakes off the expansion of federal power.

SeniorD said: "Given the extremely low probability of a State's population and their political views radically changing in the six (6) years of 'service', a Senator basically has a job for life."

It is flawed to assume that any given election result should be presumed to reflect "a state's population and their political views" -- why assume that?

Rather--setting aside questions of fraud--an election result at best reflects who showed up to vote. Now, it may be that who shows up is a reasonable representation of the larger population, but it doesn't follow at all that it will, and it is demonstrably true that this doesn't happen.

All sorts of things affect turnout, year in and year out; such that 1992 was a great year for the Democrats--then 1994, they lost both houses of Congress.

Simon said...

Mike, I think that was one of the proposals advanced. My response is simply that I don't see the purpose in amending the Constitution twice with provisions that effectively cancel each other out. The system as it stands today is essentially fine (or at least, can be dealt with at a statutory level to the extent it isn't fine) - in the event of a catastrophe, the line of Presidential succession and the appointment power to the Senate will secure continuity of government. That the House will take a few months to get back on its feet is, to my mind, a feature not a bug, because the cooling-off period will prevent the kind of rash legislative response to a crisis that some charge the Patriot Act represents. (I realize that this suggests a strong corollary to my comment above about trying to maintain processes in times of crisis; the flipside of that coin is that so long as there is minimal supervision by the Senate, those emergency measures taken will be necessarily ad hoc and will not calcify into statute.) Whether that's ideal isn't the point - the question is whether it's optimal among the available options, and I think it is.

Father Martin Fox said...

TosaGuy:

"I just reread my post....i wish Blogger had a comment edit feature."

Isn't that what the "preview" button is for?

In any case, what's so hard about just reading over your comments before you hit "publish"?

Original Mike said...

I don't see the purpose in amending the Constitution twice with provisions that effectively cancel each other out.

It could be in the same amendment, and they don't cancel each other out since they are invoked under different conditions (one vacancy vs. many).

But I agree with your larger point.

paul a'barge said...

Althouse: ...wouldn't it be easier for the states individually to change their own process?

Witness the attempts to get states to enact Meagan's Law.

I think the answer clearly is "no".

Balfegor said...

Re: Synova:

Maybe the rule change ought to be that SENATORS COMPLETE THEIR TERMS.

Why, then obviously we should have to come up with an innovation like the Chiltern Hundreds.

The position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds is now used as a procedural device to effect resignation from the House of Commons, as British MPs are not permitted simply to resign their seat. This legal anomaly dates back to a 2 March 1623 resolution of the House of Commons, passed at a time when MPs were often elected to serve against their will.

Original Mike said...

How about if a Senator resigns, you don't fill the seat until the next election. They're essentially saying "screw my constituients" anyway, so let's make it explicit.

Bruce Hayden said...

I know that the scenarios that Simon is pointing out are impossible, but...

Tom Clancey somewhat predicted 9/11, except that in his book, a Japanese pilot was able to crash a partially fueled 747 into the Capital during a (I believe) joint session of Congress. Jack Ryan, who had been appointed VP, was just ready to enter, when the plane hit. The President, and much of Congress, was wiped out, and Ryan became President. Quite a step up for the junior CIA analyst in the Hunt for Red October.

In any case, looking back, it wasn't such an implausible scenario. Imagine, for a moment, that the 9/11 hijackers had gone after the Capital and White House first, instead of the World Trade Center. Also, what if there had been a 20th hijacker, such as Habib Zacarias Moussaoui, on board UAL 93? Of course, in reality, by the time UAL 93 had a chance to hit the Capital, there were fighters after it with shoot-down orders from Darth Cheney. But that was because there had already been three attacks - and thus my supposition that things might have been closer to the Clancey novel if Wash. D.C., and not NYC, had had the first attacks.

A decade ago, this sort of worst case planning might have seemed over-paranoid. Not anymore.

Original Mike said...

The President, and much of Congress, was wiped out, and Ryan became President. Quite a step up for the junior CIA analyst in the Hunt for Red October.

Alec Baldwin as President? I'm moving to Canada.

hdhouse said...

dare i wonder what the fuss would be about if the short term senatorial nominations were made by republican governors?

But then there would be little to bitch about wouldn't there be?

Original Mike said...

dare i wonder what the fuss would be about if the short term senatorial nominations were made by republican governors?

Feingold is a Democrat, and most people here seem to be arguing against his proposal.

Please try and keep up, house.

hdhouse said...

hi mike. yes i do keep up. it was assumed that the fuss was "on here" to which I referred.

try and keep things in context please.

Original Mike said...

People here are agin' it. We're cool with continued partisan picks by Democratic governors.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Maybe the rule change ought to be that SENATORS COMPLETE THEIR TERMS."

How about a rule that if whoever wins the election and becomes senator resigns before the end of the term, then the person who came in second gets the seat until the next regularly scheduled election. In most cases, that will mean the seat goes to the other party. I suspect that there would be sufficient pressure on senators not to resign that not-resigning-the-seat would become defacto law.

TosaGuy said...

TosaGuy:

"I just reread my post....i wish Blogger had a comment edit feature."

Isn't that what the "preview" button is for?

In any case, what's so hard about just reading over your comments before you hit "publish"?

I always proofread before I publish. Problem is that I do not always catch everything.

John Burgess said...

Feingold? Waxman? Feingold? Waxman?

Just who is the biggest tool?

Maybe, since all these problematic appointments involve Democratic governors, a constitutional amendment banning Democrats would deal with the problem.

Henry Buck said...

As a matter of constitutional theory, I don't think the 17th Amendment is binding on any state that didn't officially ratify it, and I don't think that Feingold's proposed amendment would be binding on a state that didn't already agree with it.

The Constitution provides that each state cannot be denied its equal suffrage without its consent, and I think that suffrage must mean more than simply equal representation. For example, Canadian senators are appointed by the Prime Minister. I don't think that, without its consent, a state could be forced through a simple amendment to accept 2 Senators appointed by the President. That would seem to deny the state any meaningful suffrage.

Therefore, suffrage must include the ability to choose who will exercise the suffrage on the State's behalf, and that cannot be changed through the amendment process, unless the state specifically agrees to it.

David said...

Nice publicity stunt, Russ. Not a chance in hell this will pass. It's for stuff like this that the "stimulus" bill includes another $90,000 per year per member of Congress for office expense.

Cedarford said...

Shanna said...
Why can't he just leave other states alone? There are valid reasons to let the governor appoint a Senator/Rep. It's cheaper. The governor was duly elected, so unless your governor is utterly corrupt, it shouldn't be an issue.


Feingold's amendment will go nowhere. This is a simple matter for the states. It does not have to be federalized. If states like Govs picking, fine. If a state like Massachusetts was so concerned that the Rep Gov Romney was going to replace certain President John Kerry that they passed a law saying the governor was out and the almost all-democrat Legislature would pick, fine.
If states want to say a special election is best, which would allow the defeated Party & candidate a 2nd bite at the apple - well, their call...

Obviously, the issues in a goveror vs a lawyer-dominated legislature picking are not just corruption. There is the question of a seat changing Party hands. There is the matter of times when a leisurely special election while a seat is vacant as critical matters are voted on ends up screwing the state.

America is also very vulnerable to it's archaic Presidential succession rules....which if DC was nuked with Bush in office might have given us Speaker Pelosi or if she was vaporized perhaps Grand Kleagle Robert Byrd or the then 95 year old Strom Thurmond as the oldest person in the dominant Party.
Or a cabinet officer just fine for their cabinet job, but a specialist with no significant knowledge outside their cabinet area of responsibility or elective office experience suddenly being vaulted into the Oval Office. (Think Eric Holder or Janet Reno or scientist Henry Chu)

Original Mike said...

America is also very vulnerable to it's archaic Presidential succession rules....which if DC was nuked ...

Maybe we should set the VP up in another city. I'm serious. You can argue that to fulfill his primary responsibility (having a pulse) he has to have his office in, say, Alaska.

Sigivald said...

I'm with Father Fox.

Repeal the 17th Amendment; we don't need two Houses of Representatives.

We need more Republic, not more Democracy.

(Note, people, that both are "Democratic" forms of government.)

Der Hahn said...

What was Russ's position on the Senate conforming to the The Emoluments Clause when confirming Presidental appointees?

Balfegor said...

Or a cabinet officer just fine for their cabinet job, but a specialist with no significant knowledge outside their cabinet area of responsibility or elective office experience suddenly being vaulted into the Oval Office. (Think Eric Holder or Janet Reno or scientist Henry Chu)

How would we get around that, though? Have the senior retired president (Carter?) step in in the event of a decapitation strike on the American government? Designate a premier Governor to assume command?

Simon said...

Cedarford said...
"America is also very vulnerable to it's archaic Presidential succession rules"

Apart from incidential changes (see footnote 22 of this post), the last general change to the line of succession was in 1947, see 61 Stat. 380 (interposing the speaker and pres pro tem ahead of the cabinet). Foolhardy? Perhaps, but not archaic.

I like Mike's suggestion, but to be clear, it can be done by statute. You could assign the veep a "duty station" in the way that judges are given such.

Revenant said...

There's a simple explanation for this. It is all due to Feingold being competitive.

See, he heard about Peter King's cellular phone/digital camera law. He was overcome by jealousy that the dippiest proposed law in America was the work of a mere New York Republican representative. So he came up with this amendment, to seize the crown for himself.

Revenant said...

but a specialist with no significant knowledge outside their cabinet area of responsibility or elective office experience suddenly being vaulted into the Oval Office.

So in the event that we're suddenly deprived of our current President, with his four years of federal government and one week of executive experience -- the government might find itself led by a cabinet secretary with little experience or training for the job?

Would we notice?

Original Mike said...

You could assign the veep a "duty station" in the way that judges are given such.

Baltimore or Philadelphia would probably be far enough away.

Original Mike said...

Would we notice?

Be nice, Rev. He won the election, he's our President and [talking like that] is unAmerican and you should be ashamed.

Cedarford said...

Simon - the last general change to the line of succession was in 1947, see 61 Stat. 380 (interposing the speaker and pres pro tem ahead of the cabinet). Foolhardy? Perhaps, but not archaic.

Jeez, Simon, that was over 60 years ago before anyone else had the bomb. It was before the ICBM.

That qualifies as archaic, and not reflecting 5 decades of reality, in my opinion.

It was also before the 5 minute "decapitation" ICBM missile. Or the idea of a 90% effective bioagent set loose in a nation;s capital. Or the idea of nihilist terrorists getting a nuke from a failed state like N Korea or Pakistan.

It was also stupid from the start, inserting the unelected by the People House Speaker or the oldest living Senator into the sucession...and ignored that one bomb or one ounce of anthrax spores would either change Parties and negate the last election or could cripple government altogether.

Balfegor - How would we get around that, though? Have the senior retired president (Carter?) step in in the event of a decapitation strike on the American government? Designate a premier Governor to assume command?


The options commonly discussed are:

1. Designate a sucession of governors ready to step in if DC is vaporized with no significant person in the succession left, and the speaker belongs only if they are of the same Party as the Pres and VP. And the silly notion of the "oldest living Senator" of the majority Party should be dropped altogether. And certain cabinet officers in any Administration are wonks with little or no capacity to step in as a Chief Executive, and should not be in the succession.

2. The other line of succession possibility in case of attack - would be to fill the Presidential function most urgently needed after decapitation - that of Commander in Chief.
Succesion down to DOD Cabinet level, but if everyone above and including the DOD Secretary is dead, then the "ideal" of civilian control is abandoned and the US response comes through the senior military officer instead of, say the Secretary of Education or Secretary of Labor to handle the response to the decapitation attack.
3. Britain has gone the "pre-existing order" route. Sort of a "last will and testament" of the civilian government getting vaporized or neutralized with a virulent biowar agent.
Military has pre-existing instructions on what to do if civilian leadership is destroyed by an enemy.

Revenant said...

Be nice, Rev. He won the election, he's our President and [talking like that] is unAmerican and you should be ashamed.

Hey, I'm not criticizing. I'm just pointing out that his election showed that experience and training aren't required in a President.

So there's nothing to worry about, see? If the Secretary of Health and Human Services becomes President, I'm sure he (she?) will do a fine job. Especially since he/she was chosen by Obama himself!

Simon said...

Cedarford said...
"[T]hat was over 60 years ago before anyone else had the bomb. It was before the ICBM. ¶ That qualifies as archaic...."

Well, I don't think it does. I can see why you might think so, given the focus of the term on something that is the product of an earlier era, but I think you greatly overstate the case that the 1947 law belongs to an earlier era. And to the extent the law requires modification (I've mentioned before that I support rescinding the 1947 law and returning to the all-executive branch line of succession), I would point out that this lies in the domain of statute - not fiddling with the Constitution.

Original Mike said...

Especially since he/she was chosen by Obama himself!

That's the spirit!

Simon said...

Cedarford said...
"Designate a sucession [sic.] of governors ready to step in if DC is vaporized with no significant person in the succession left"

Then you've got to argue over which governors in which order, unless the "will and testament" approach you mention is followed (i.e. each administration makes a public designation - and not in the federal register - of a "backstop," a Governor who will take charge.

"[Britain's] Military has pre-existing instructions on what to do if civilian leadership is destroyed by an enemy."

France has the same thing. In the event that the civilian leadership is wiped out, the military is directed to, with all deliberate speed, identify the perpetrators, organize its forces, and surrender forthwith.

Shanna said...

Alec Baldwin as President? I'm moving to Canada.

In later movies it was Harrison Ford! But then in even later movies, I think it was Ben Afflec. But that movie shouldn’t count as cannon.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

The country (and world) would be a lot better off if everyone did things the Wisconsin way.

In wisconsin, a tenant need not pay the bills for utilities that they contracted for. The utility companies pass the debt to assessors offices and collect the debt against the landlord or levy his property.

In this way, Wisconsin takes the side of Party A in a Party A vs. B contract dispute and uses its monopoly on force to threaten Party Q to pay or to suffer.

Your government is idiotic as Feingold.

Balfegor said...

France has the same thing. In the event that the civilian leadership is wiped out, the military is directed to, with all deliberate speed, identify the perpetrators, organize its forces, and surrender forthwith.

Speaking seriously now, France's plan, in the event of the destruction of civilian leadership by foreigners, is almost certainly to launch a nuclear strike, which will trigger global thermonuclear holocaust. This was the entire point of France's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, and I hardly think that a nation willing to send commandos to sink Greenpeace's ship when Greenpeace dared protest their nuclear tests can be accused of being unserious about their nuclear arsenal.

I say foreigners, of course, because as recently as 1958, the French army went rogue, dispatched paratroopers to secure Corsica, and drew up plans to conquer Paris and eliminate the government if Charles de Gaulle were not installed as President. I doubt the French would launch their "Force de Frappe" if they were just fighting amongst themselves.

In any event, I think the French nuclear deterrent is, if anything, more credible than pretty much any other country (certainly than the United States). Easy to imagine an American President hesitating, at the last moment, to plunge the world into a sea of nuclear flame; not hard at all to imagine any French President of the last fifty years, Left or Right, doing exactly that. Indeed, the French have an explicit nuclear first strike policy in place -- in 2006, Chirac indicated that France would be willing to retaliate against terrorist attacks with nuclear strikes. France has also continued to modernise the capabilities of their nuclear arsenal.

They mean it.

Revenant said...

a nation willing to send commandos to sink Greenpeace's ship when Greenpeace dared protest their nuclear tests

This is one of many reasons why I can't bring myself to really dislike the French. :)

Kirk Parker said...

Original Mike has a great idea, but Laura(southernxyl) has an even better one.

(BTW, Laura, are you a ham or something?)