WASHINGTON — When John Keats said that autumn is the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness,” he did not anticipate this American autumn. It resembles the gorier Shakespearean plays in which swords are brandished, people are poisoned and stabbed, almost everyone behaves badly and those who do not are thinking: Things cannot continue like this. Actually, they probably will because this is the first law of contemporary politics: There is no such thing as rock bottom.
On Monday, some hysterics in hot pursuit of the often heralded but never reached “constitutional crisis,” galloped off on the basis of rumors about speculations concerning hypotheses, all because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went to the White House, perhaps — there was a frisson of anticipation — to be fired. He was not. Next week, Rosenstein is expected to speak with the president, presumably because of last week’s report that in May 2017, Rosenstein spoke, in the presence of other senior Justice Department officials, about possibly wearing a wire to surreptitiously record the president, presumably to facilitate invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him.
Well. It is fanciful to believe that senior Justice officials — all veteran lawyers, none political naifs — seriously contemplated resorting to the amendment in order to overturn a presidential election because the winner is, as he already had made abundantly clear to voters, dreadful. The amendment requires the vice president and a majority of the president’s Cabinet to notify Congress that they consider the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Were the turmoil in the Justice Department, which is headed by the precariously placed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, exacerbated by the firing of Rosenstein, this would provide yet another occasion, this one fewer than 41 days before 435 House and 35 Senate elections, for congressional Republicans to remind voters of the…