I’m going to write once again about the TV show 24, so if your not interested please skip ahead. Now, the latest plot twist is that the show’s President of the US has been challenged by his vice president under the pretext of the 25th Amendment. That amendment says, in part, that if the president is unable to discharge the duties of his office, as judged by the VP and a majority of the cabinet, they will let the two houses of Congess know and the VP will become President. And that’s where the show gets its drama.
But it’s not that simple. The President doesn’t have to sit back and let it happen. All he has to do is inform Congress that he does not indeed have a disability. If the VP and cabinet persist in their belief, Congress then debates the issue and votes within 21 days. But then, of course, that would be long after the 24 hours is over, and the fictional nuclear bombers are recalled to base, etc., etc. It is not the case that the President is relieved of his office until he appeals to Congress in four days. In fact, it is the VP who has to appeal the President’s refusal. And nothing happens until the written notification is sent to the Speaker and Senate president pro-tempore.
Yes, I know it’s just a TV show, but this plot element is a lynchpin to the whole season and to see constitutional issues so badly handled makes me wonder at the state of civic education in this coutry. How many people even know that there are 27 Amendments to the Constitution, never mind what they say? The fact is that there are probably a lot of people out there who think it’s that easy to remove a sitting President because they saw it on TV. There are probably a lot of people who think that the government is run like “West Wing,” who think hospitals are run like “ER”, that crimes are investigated like “CSI,” and that trials are run like “The Practice.” For some, it’s probably difficult to distinguish reality from TV. Perhaps “Survivor” really is the most real “reality TV” out there.
Unfortunately, the education system has failed most of us (I know I didn’t learn much about the Constitution when I was in school) and now we rely on the faulty information that the entertainment industry feeds us. Is it any wonder we get so mad at celebrities who spout off on their inane political beliefs? They’ve become the information source for a society.