Thursday, June 13, 2024

Ford Presidency Forebodes: Biden’s Exit Would Create Huge VP Problem for Dems

'Whenever there is a vacancy ... the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) For having served only two and a half years in one of the 20th century’s most forgettable spans (the mid- to late-1970s), former President Gerald Ford has been remarkably popular lately.

Because Ford presided over the 1975 withdrawal from Saigon, some in the leftist media have looked to his administration as a way to deflect blame from President Joe Biden over the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But, false Vietnam equivalencies aside, Biden’s foreign-policy bungling may well prove to be his political undoing.

In that event, Ford’s presidency might find itself the talk of Capitol Hill once again, as the most recent and relevant—if not only—guidance for determining vice-presidential succession under the 25th Amendment.

There is no question that—barring her own premature exit—current Vice President Kamala Harris would step into the top role if Biden were unable to complete his term.

However, Biden’s departure would have the added wrinkle of occurring under an evenly-divided Senate. That, in turn, could take constitutional wrangling into uncharted territory over how Harris’s vice president—and the Democrats’ crucial tie-breaking Senate vote—would be confirmed.


Ford died 15 years ago, the day after Christmas, on Dec. 26, 2006.

Not only overshadowed by the holidays, his passing also was eclipsed by the execution of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on Dec. 30—a major triumph in then-President George W. Bush’s War on Terror.

Ironically, the US defeat in that very same War on Terror has now thrust the 38th president back in the spotlight.

Having his funeral thusly jostled from the news cycle was a fitting end to the amiable but transitory president, whose main historical legacy was consigned to being Richard Nixon‘s placeholder and the man who launched Chevy Chase’s comedy career.

As an added curiosity, Ford was the only president, to date, never to have been elected to the White House, since the former House minority leader also had replaced the resigned Vice President Spiro Agnew in 1973.

Moreover, he was the only president ever to lose an election to Jimmy Carter, which seems equally apropos in the modern era.

Biden’s few remaining defenders have insisted that Ford was never blamed for the Vietnam War, which had been escalated a decade earlier by the Democratic Lyndon Johnson administration.

Yet, the public consequences Ford faced in the 1976 election are not likely to be ignored by Democrats already panicking over their 2022 standing.

The bicentennial-year contest between two vanilla-tinted candidates, Ford and Carter, was something like a battle of attrition, with the presidency becoming a sort of political hot-potato. Neither had the range of vision or charisma needed to rouse the country from the long, national hangover that followed the tumultuous ’60s and early ’70s.


There are clear parallels between the Ford/Carter era and the present. In both, the DC Establishment’s efforts to restore calm after a period of unrest and intense polarization made matters worse by installing, instead, an ineffectual replacement.

While the Left has hoped to gaslight its way through the current transitional span by attempting to normalize Biden’s bizarre behavior and keeping him under close wraps, the sudden, unexpected loss of the 20-year war in Afghanistan has proven to be an inflection point.

Biden’s approval ratings already facing freefall over an array of mismanaged domestic crises, the president now finds his popularity deep underwater. His current poll numbers mirror those of the prior Trump administration, despite having had much of the mainstream media (and polling industry) working to artificially bolster him.

Indeed, Biden’s toxicity may put Democrats in an uneasy situation going into the 2022 election season, but forcing his departure (or declaring him unfit for office) would do nothing to resolve their current plight.

Given her own lack of popularity, Kamala Harris’s elevation to the role could prove to be an even greater political liability. Making matters worse, it would leave Senate Democrats without their all-important tie-breaking vote.

Succession questions surrounding Biden and Harris initially arose during the election last year, when rumors and memes began circulating about the possibility of a Nancy Pelosi presidency. If the top two leaders both were forced out, the House speaker from San Francisco would find herself next in line.

Left-wing fact-checking sites missed the obvious point of the quasi-humorous posts and construed them literally to mean that Pelosi would ascend automatically to the role of vice president.

But their obtuse clarifications while attempting to highlight right-wing misinformation may come back to haunt them if Democrats ultimately seek to contest the protocols outlined for vice-presidential succession.


According to the 25th Amendment, “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress,” noted FactCheck.org.

The site then drew its own conclusions that “if Biden and Harris won the 2020 election and Biden stepped down after taking office, as the post hypothesizes, Harris would become president and then nominate a new vice president. And Congress would have the final say on confirming that nominee.”

The situation at that time failed to take into account the current 50–50 Senate, which has found Democrats brazenly leveraging their razor-thin advantage to float massive power-grabs. Proposals include eliminating the filibuster to push a radical overhaul of election laws, and passing a $3.5 trillion package of amnesty, welfare and Green-New-Deal spending by using the procedural backdoor of budget reconciliation.

Without Harris to break the Senate tie, Republicans could both forestall the confirmation of a new vice president and derail the passage of a leftist agenda, instead biding their time until the midterm election.

Democrats might argue that, in the absence of a vice president to break the tie, Harris should retain her former authority. But, fortunately, that’s unlikely to pass constitutional muster since Ford’s battle to confirm Nelson Rockefeller stands as precedent.

“Rockefeller’s confirmation hearings dragged on for months, and House and Senate leaders talked of delaying his confirmation until the new Congress convened in January,” noted Senate.gov.

“You just can’t do that to the country,” President Ford complained to House Speaker Carl Albert and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield. “You can’t do it to Nelson Rockefeller, and you can’t do it to me. It’s in the national interest that you confirm Rockefeller, and I’m asking you to move as soon as possible.”

The simple answer would be for Harris to nominate a vice president who was respected by her former Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle and could gain bipartisan consensus in a confirmation vote—perhaps someone like a Mitt Romney.

In all likelihood, though, the outcome will be that Democrats find themselves rallying behind Biden at all costs rather than sacrifice their one-vote Senate advantage.

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