Curmudgeon's Corner

Survival: Biden, Trump ... ‘Republic’?

By John Kubal

The Brookings Register

Posted 6/12/24

“A republic, if you can keep it.” Such was the response Benjamin Franklin gave to Elizabeth Willing Powel’s question about what the U.S. Constitution had brought into being: …

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Curmudgeon's Corner

Survival: Biden, Trump ... ‘Republic’?


“A republic, if you can keep it.” Such was the response Benjamin Franklin gave to Elizabeth Willing Powel’s question about what the U.S. Constitution had brought into being: “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”

I do believe that the American Republic Franklin addressed will continue to survive. We can keep it. But what it will be like depends on which present presidential candidate’s political campaign survives — or if the Dems and GOP come up with some different candidates. Very unlikely; but I’d be happy to see that happen.

Right now it looks like the electorate will have a choice between incumbent octogenarian President Joe Biden and former septuagenarian president Donald Trump. I don’t see either man having all the qualities needed to be the de facto leader of the Western free world.

Joe Biden’s powers of ambulation, as I saw them demonstrated during his recent visit to Normandy, France, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, looked pretty shaky. He moves slower than I do and at 81 he’s a year younger than I am. I suspect four more years in the Oval Office would take away what very little spring he still has in his step.

At 77, Donald Trump does appear to be healthier and more energetic than Joe Biden. His ability to speak repetitiously for up to two hours certainly requires some stamina. And he golfs a lot, which also requires some stamina; but a lot of time is spent riding in a golf cart. But does Trump’s portliness suggest the potential for cardiovascular and circulatory issues should he regain the Oval Office for four more years?

Bottom line: The physical health of both men is shaky at best. It wouldn’t get better over four more years. But what about their mental fitness?

Add to Biden’s somewhat visible frailty questions about his cognitive health. His speech seems slow, shaky and brief when he responds to questions about most issues. Even his prepared comments seem to be laborious for him. The demanding quick-on-your-feet give-and-take that go with political discourse seem beyond him. Should he undergo testing by experts in the field, as has been suggested by some of his political enemies?

Trump’s cognitive health isn’t being scrutinized as closely as Biden’s. However, his mental health — sometimes tied to his morals and ethics — has been questioned by some experts in that field. I suggest some psychiatrists would have a field day here. However, for them to judge Trump without having done an actual in-person mental evaluation would not be fair.

The above being said, let me suggest that both candidates — assuming, of course, that they would be amenable to it — undergo a battery of mental and physical exams by politically neutral health care professionals.

Unusual? Of course; but we live in unusual times and these men are in some respects the most unusual men to ever seek reelection to the presidency of the United States.

Finally, I think the morals and ethics of both candidates must be considered. Neither candidate is a saint; and we don’t expect them to be. But I don’t think our nation has ever seen a candidate for its chief executive job have the alley-cat morality that Trump has shown us. Yet he has plenty of followers willing to overlook or put aside the 34 guilty verdicts handed down in his most recent trial. Trump especially loves his followers who have no-questions-asked loyalty.

I got to thinking about that when I re-read the following, which opens “Chapter 34: Obedience and Conformity,” in “Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century,” by Jonathan Glover: “The National Socialism of all of us is anchored in uncritical loyalty, in the surrender to the Fuhrer that does not ask for the why in individual cases, in the silent execution of his orders. We believe that the Fuhrer is obeying a higher call to fashion German history. There can be no criticism of this belief.”  Rudolf Hess, in a speech, June 1934

Those scary words were spoken by the man who from 1933 to 1941 was Deputy Fuhrer to Adolf Hitler. On page 1 of a 25-page article, Wikipedia tells us: “Hess held that position until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate the United Kingdom’s exit from the Second World War. He was taken prisoner and eventually convicted of crimes against peace. He was still serving his life sentence at the time of his suicide in 1987.”

Do you see a hint of Donald Trump in some of Hess’s words? Does Trump hint at “uncritical loyalty” in his followers?

Bottom line for me at the moment is the survival of the Republic. And whose political survival — Trump’s or Biden’s — least threatens the survival of the Republic?

For myself, I’ll be watching the two contenders when they do debate-battle on June 27. GOP pollster Frank Luntz calls the face-off “ … the most important debate since JFK-Richard Nixon. … we’ll get a chance to see whether Joe Biden is as feeble as Trump says he is … and a chance to see whether Donald Trump is as unhinged as Joe Biden says he is. … ”

Have a nice day.