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The Fall of Mr. Trump, the rise of Madam President.

No, it's not who you think!

August 2016

The Republicans need to renounce Mr. Trump and withdraw his nomination, replacing both candidates on the current ticket with a fresh slate. The winning ticket will feature not one but two women.
Mr. Donald Trump has managed, in the three weeks following the Republican Convention that nominated him, to show himself a perfect ass – even more perfect than we thought while he was seeking the nomination. The hopes of the party leaders that he might moderate his tone, might appear more "presidential" (or just grown-up) as the sun rose on the decisive days of his campaign, have evaporated like the morning dew. And the more sunlight falls on Mr. Trump, the deeper seem the shadows. He rails against Mrs. Clinton for not publishing her personal finances, and refuses to do so himself. His pronouncements about world affairs show him to be an ignorant buffoon in that field, frightening friendly nations and amusing the rest. His domestic strategy seems to include offending as many voter groups as he can. Could he actually be a mole in the Republican forces, planted by the Democrats?

The developments make us wonder again about the phone call that Bill Clinton placed to Donald Trump in May of last year, while Trump was still undecided about getting into the Republican race. According to the Washington Post (Aug 5, 2015), based on staff on both sides who heard the call, Trump "was candid about his political ambitions and his potential interest in seeking the White House" and "Clinton encouraged Trump's efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party". I must say – and I say this admiringly – that if Bill Clinton actually realized in the spring of 2015 what a disaster Donald Trump would be for the Republicans, counseling Trump to get in the race was a brilliant piece of political trickery. Getting the Republicans to run a candidate even less popular than Hillary Clinton was a stroke of genius. Bill and Hillary have known Trump well for many years, and Bill knew well the kind of destruction he might wreak in the enemy camp with his untrammeled tongue. But only in Bill's wildest dreams could he have guessed the full impact of a Trump candidacy, which now has the GOP in a downward death spiral – a bad place to be in an election year.

So, now the Republican leadership needs to take action to save the party from Mr. Trump's excesses. They have already tried talking sense to the candidate; clearly that hasn't worked – he seems rather to have become more rambunctious as a result. They may even have suggested to him that he withdraw from the race, but that would not comport with his self-image as a hero figure. It turns out, though, that a party rule allows the GOP National Committee to replace a nominee for almost any reason. This is the needed correction, but time is of the essence. The dates are fast approaching when the states need to receive confirmed candidate slates from the major political parties. (It's a key point that the slots allotted on the state ballots to the major parties are owned by the parties, not by the candidate.) Given that both time and options are both quickly running out, the RNC needs to quickly put together a replacement President/VP ticket, and inform Mssr. Trump and Pence that they are out. I see this course as the only way for the Republican Party to become relevant in this year's presidential election. It's very likely that this would result in a law suit by Mr. Trump, and even an injunction enjoining the RNC from certifying a new slate, but this could get a fast-track resolution, given the pressing calendar. (But there may not be a suit. Between you and me, I don't think Donald Trump really wants to be president. He knows he'll have no patience with the endless meetings and policy discussions in the White House. I think he really just wants to win. Since he has already won the nomination, being removed before losing the general election may be the rescue he's secretly yearning for.)

The question then is, WHO?   Whom does the GOP have that is well-known and respected, moderate in views, reasonable in negotiations, and who can look good on a campaign poster? (If the party's right wing wins and replaces Trump with a "tea party" Republican a la Ted Cruz, they'll just be digging their grave deeper.) We can ask, which voters do they need to attract? First, of course, they will need the mainstream and conservative Republicans. Second, as many as possible of the Trump devotees, many of whom may be irretrievably lost by this plan. Third, everyone who can't stomach the Clintons, including those who plan a protest vote for a third candidate. That's a lot of voters. Fourth, women generally, even Democrats – especially those who are reluctantly considering voting for Hillary mainly because she is female. Fifth, but by no means least, minorities – chiefly blacks and Hispanics.

Here is my suggestion: Take away the "first woman president" issue from Hillary by nominating a woman for president. Double down on this by nominating a woman for vice president. This would be an exciting ticket, and would be truly historic. I would say that only a stunning move like nominating an all-female ticket can carry the Republicans to the White House this year. So the question is still, Who?   The Republicans actually have a number of capable and experienced women in responsible political positions.

My recommendation for the presidential nomination is Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Senator Collins, 63, has demonstrated her ability to work with the opposition to forge bipartisan solutions. Her nearly twenty years in the Senate, with work on a variety of committees, has given her a good grasp of the full gamut of national and international affairs. Other candidates, preferably for the vice presidential nomination, could include the Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez (whose Mexican roots can't hurt), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Certainly, additional good candidates also exist; a requirement should be the ability to work toward bipartisan solutions to the problems in our society that have gotten short shrift during the current standoff between a deadbeat Congress and a feckless president.

Susan Collins

Susana Martinez

Condoleezza Rice

Shelley Capito

Kelly Ayotte

A few words about the "Grand Old Party" before I sign off. Why should I care? After all, I rarely vote Republican any longer. I did quite often back when the party was a centrist/conservative reasonable alternative, with much of value to contribute to public policy. In Chicago in the 1960s I was proud to vote for Republican Senator Everett Dirksen as well as for Democratic Senator Paul Douglas, who were both known for their willingness and ability to work through differences. For the hundred years up to the mid-60s, the Republican party was the party of civil rights. They freed the slaves and built the Reconstruction program in the South, which was later closed down by the Democrats leading to the era of segregation and Jim Crow. The Republicans proposed civil rights bills right up to the 1960s, which were invariably filibustered to death by the Democrats. In '64 President Lyndon Johnson finally got his fellow Democrats in the Senate to agree to a civil rights bill – much the same as the one proposed by the Republicans in 1958. The GOP was a grand old party before it was invaded by the "tea party" ideologues, a group of people constitutionally unable to see others' point of view as anything but evil. With the tea party, politics – the art of achieving progress despite differences – stops cold; their only way is their way. My hope is that moderate Republican leadership in the White House will show the party the way back to their tradition, which is that of constructive policy-making with concern for both individual and social good.

What we need in the White House at this time is a pragmatic, non-ideological leader who can work constructively with both sides in Congress, who can help the Senate get its house in order and return to the era of decision-making, and who is dedicated to ending the corruption that stains both our election process and the workings of Congress. The Democrats this year have not chosen a candidate who can achieve any of that. They could have nominated Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, or Martin O'Malley, any of whom could have succeeded, but chose instead a candidate best known for the systemic corruption of both her campaign and her own very being. A "President Hillary Clinton" would guarantee four years of a virtual clamp over White House relations with Congress, and further growth of corruption at the highest levels of government.

I call on the Republican National Committee to bite the bullet and do what it must to give us a chance at an acceptable choice for president this fall. The US government was not designed to fail, and the American people have a right to expect that their political leaders will make it work. The all-woman, fully capable ticket I've suggested can revitalize the party and give us again a functioning government.

© H. Paul Lillebo

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