From The "Would You Believe This" File: ‘Caretaker Clinton’ may be asked to remain in White House after Jan. 20greenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Wild Wild West : One Thread
Caretaker' Clinton may have to stay on
BY TIM SHIPMAN
BILL Clinton may be asked to stay on in power while America's worst constitutional crisis in its history is resolved.
As election officials last night began recounting disputed votes that are expected to catapult Al Gore ahead of George W. Bush, constitutional experts claimed Mr Clinton could provide a way out of the impasse.
The bombshell court ruling that has saved Mr Gore from political oblivion has left it doubtful that the White House winner can be finalised by the time the president is due to hand over power on January 20.
Under the 20th amendment to the constitution, the US Congress could appoint an acting president to serve if the ballot dispute is not resolved by inauguration day.
Professor James Fleming, of Fordham University, said: "I don't think Bill Clinton has explicitly applied for the job, but he is the most obvious choice for it."
The president last week indicated that he would have run again this year had he been allowed to, and is confident he would have won.
Bush allies, who expected their man to be crowned leader of the free world, awoke yesterday still shellshocked by the stunning reverse dealt by Florida's Supreme Court.
By a majority of 4-3 the judges slashed Mr Bush's lead to a slender 154 votes and ordered the recounting of up to 45,000 ballots that seem certain to hand Mr Gore a handsome lead. The ballots are those in which a presidential choice was not picked up by the counting machines.
Republicans reacted with incandescent rage. Leading Republican Congressman Tom DeLay thundered: "This judicial aggression must not stand." Tom Cole, chief of staff for the Republican National Committee, said: "It was a breathtaking reversal and we're going to fight it tooth and nail. We're moving out of a political crisis to a constitutional crisis."
Bush was last night pinning his hopes of becoming 43rd president on getting the US Supreme Court to stop the recounts. Meanwhile, jittery Democrats who had urged Gore to stand down leapt swiftly back on to the bandwagon. Describing the moment Gore knew he had won the ruling, his spokesman Doug Hattaway said: "The entire room erupted into cheers and everyone exchanged high fives."
The race was yesterday on to complete the counting before Tuesday, when Florida must select its delegates to the electoral college that elects the president. But Florida's Republican-dominated legislature has already said it will send 25 Bush-backers to the electoral college on December 18 to circumvent a process it believes has been "hijacked by the courts". Mr Bush's younger brother Jeb, the Florida governor, will sign the document that makes the move official. However, the Florida courts may back electors for Gore, leaving it for Congress to decide between the two slates for the first time since 1876. Republicans control the House of Representatives. As vice president, Mr Gore himself enjoys the deciding vote in the Senate.
The likely stalemate might open the way for Mr Clinton, or failing that House Speaker Dennis Hastert or the longest serving senator, 97-year-old Strom Thurmond, to step in as a caretaker. Even Florida's chief justice denounced his fellow judges' decision, saying it propelled America "into an unprecedented and unnecessary constitutional crisis". Commentator Michael Kramer spoke for the nation when he said: "What has so far been merely messy is about to become ugly.
"Only the nation's patience will stand against the turmoil to come - and that patience has already been sorely tested."
But amid the doom-mongering, Congressman J.C. Watts put it best. "This is starting to resemble the movie Groundhog Day," he said.
Bush was yesterday returning to his Texas ranch. Gore was expected to remain inside the vice presidential residence in Washington.
‘Caretaker Clinton’ may be asked to remain in White House after Jan. 20
-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here Not@ever.com), December 11, 2000