June 09, 2003
Picking Up The Pieces
So, imagine for a moment, that Todd Beamer & Co. had failed in their bid to crash United Airlines Flight 93 into a deserted field on the morning of September 11, 2001. Reports differ on whether the intended target was the White House or The Capitol Building.
Well, my well-known bias against the current Chief Executive aside, crashing into the Capitol would be far, far more damaging to this country. Consider this: Assuming the President & Vice President were cooling their heels, kicking back a few pretzels in the Oval Office mere seconds before being vaporized by a divebombing jumbo jet, the Constitution is designed so that a new Commander-in-Chief can be quickly sworn in and put in charge ("welcome to the White House, President Hastert."). Quick and easy.
If, however, fire from the sky reduced the Senate & the House of Representatives to a pile of ashes, who replaces them? The Senate seats can be filled by an appointment from the governors of their respective states, but there is no such provision for the House. Special elections will take months to establish, and the Constitution, while vague on what actually constitutes a quorum, requires that one exist before the House can act. Did I mention that Congress is the only Federal body that can declare war, let alone appropriate money and pass laws?
Chaos, my friends. And heaven forbid somebody nukes an inauguration, decapitating the entire Federal government.
Here's an essay from The Atlantic Monthly on some folks who are trying to cover our collective rear ends in the event of a Congressional slaughter.