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Life after Trump

Amid all the reports of chaos, the endless Twitter storms and the unseemly merchandise branding, President Donald Trump insists his administration is running like a “fine-tuned machine” after its first few weeks.

Right. And I claim to be a combination of James Bond and Boo Radley (suave yet sensitive), but nobody buys that either.

When Mr. Trump is forced from office in the next few months, which is inevitable given his temperament, his business entanglements and the media’s seething contempt for him, it will mainly benefit the Republican Party, not the Democrats, although it will certainly help every American’s peace of mind regardless of party affiliation.

The more rabid Trump partisans can comfort themselves after his downfall with the realization that his constitutional replacement, Vice President Mike Pence, will be a much better standard bearer for the GOP going into the 2018 and 2020 elections than Trump ever would.

Pence is not a ratings magnet like Trump, but he is not clinically insane either. He is normal and predictable, which is all you really want in a president. He would carry out a Republican agenda at least as well as Trump, and put the party in a much better position to hold Congress and the White House.

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As for the press — “the enemy of the American people,” as Trump likes to say — they will still attack all things Republican as they did with George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, et.al., but they will no longer have the specter of a madman with nuclear codes and an itchy Twitter finger to pummel the party with.

There is no guarantee, of course, that a President Pence would win election on his own in 2020, assuming he did run. When Vice President Gerald Ford replaced Richard Nixon after the president resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal in 1974, Ford did not win the presidency when he ran in 1976. He was as uninspiring as Pence, and his pardoning of Nixon sealed his fate. He lost to Jimmy Carter.

A quarter-century later, if the Democrats had pressured Bill Clinton into resigning after his impeachment in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice in the Monica Lewinsky affair, more or less as Republicans had advised Nixon to leave before he could be impeached, then Vice President Al Gore would have finished Clinton’s second term. As the sitting president, Gore would have been much better positioned for a victory on his own against Bush in 2000.

As it was, Democrats fought to keep Clinton in office, and he was acquitted in 1999. Gore remained vice president and went on to lose to Bush in a deeply divisive election, just like some others that come to mind.

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Ironically, had Gore replaced a deposed Clinton and then won in 2000 and again in 2004 (providing the Constitution would have allowed two full elected terms after serving part of a third), he would have ended up serving about 10 years overall as commander-in-chief, more than any other chief executive in American history except Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was in his fourth term and 13th year in office when he died in April 1945. Instead, Gore ended up serving no time in the big house.

There’s a lesson there for Democrats, Republicans, corporations, professional sports and everyone else: Namely, don’t protect your miscreants — throw them out.

Of course, Gore could still run again, and could even win this time, which is probably as likely as my appearing in remakes of “Goldfinger” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In other words, he’s got a real shot at it.

 

Mark Godburn is an antiquarian bookseller and writer in North Canaan. His book, “Nineteenth-Century Dust-Jackets,” was published last year.