Three words define for me the reason I remain optimistic about how the current tumult surrounding the president of the United States is going to end.
President Gerald Rudolph Ford took the oath of office on Aug. 9, 1974 and declared the following: Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men.
The 38th president took office under the most unusual circumstance this nation ever has experienced. His predecessor, President Richard Nixon, quit the office, giving the nation roughly 15 hours notice from the time he told us on national TV to the moment his resignation took effect the next day at noon.
We had just endured the most rigorous constitutional crisis in our nation’s history. Nixon resigned to avoid certain impeachment and virtually certain conviction of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Yes, our Constitution worked then. It will work now, matter where Donald John Trump’s troubles take him . . . and us.
Even out here in Trump Country where I live, there are rumblings of serious danger in store for the president. A special counsel, Robert Mueller. appears to be closing in on some matters that could produce actual indictments of the president’s closest advisers, even members of his family — and, yes, quite possibly the president himself.
Much of what transpires over time well might depend on how Trump responds to what could occur. Does he do something foolish? Does he issue pardons to indicted conspirators and then open himself up to demonstrable evidence of obstruction of justice?
The nation’s founders knew what they were doing when they drafted the Constitution. They built in a system of government that limits presidential power; they gave additional power to Congress; they also gave the federal courts power to rule on the constitutionality of laws and presidential actions.
Divided government is about to descend on Congress, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives. The White House and the Senate will remain in Republican control.
One of the many beauties of the government the founders created lies in the ability of Congress and, when needed, the courts to rein in an overzealous executive branch.
So, when the president makes noises about what might occur within the White House, he sends alarm bells clanging all over Capitol Hill and throughout the federal judiciary.
Yes, indeed, the Constitution works. President Ford spoke a fundamental truth to us in our moment of dire constitutional peril. It worked then. It works today.