October 13, 2017

Michael Gerson's recent op-ed for the Washington Post questions Trump's sanity and character, while calling for Republicans to do something about it. The "something" appears to be a 25th Amendment solution of some sort, because Gerson made the argument that Trump is incapable of holding the office and carrying out the duties of that office.

Nicolle Wallace brought Steve Schmidt on ahead of her panel today to discuss the op-ed, Trump's fitness for office, and Paul Ryan's cowardice. It was quite the rant, worth the time to watch, but for those of you for whom reading is more fun than watching, a mostly edited transcript follows.

SCHMIDT: It's a really extraordinary week when you think back and we see what happened. And I think there are three big things that happened this week, then 100 smaller things that any other time would be a big thing.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Policy Committee openly and publicly saying that the White House is essentially adult day care, that the President of the United States mentally is incapacitated at some level, and how profoundly worried he is about it.

This is an office that has immense power. The President of the United States has the power should he choose to exercise it, to extinguish life on this planet. We think about the Korean peninsula and the hundreds and thousands of civilians there, it is not a joke, but in the context of this, tax reform doesn't matter. A form of government programs that doesn't matter.

WALLACE: Repealing Obamacare.

SCHMIDT: We go later this week that we have seen smallness, we have seen the moral obtusity after Charlottesville, the collapse of his moral authority for all time the time talking about the good Nazis that are marching, but now we see American citizens, our countrymen dying in Puerto Rico because of the malfeasance and incompetence of this administration and the serial dishonesty.

The total lack of credibility in talking about it (we're seeing that play out) and it's not for nothing that they call it the first amendment. In a free society, we cannot maintain liberty without the free of expression, speech, religion.

There has never been an American president that has openly attacked the first amendment the way that Donald Trump did, talking about how disgusting it is. These are attacks that are at a foundational level on some of the most important pillars of American society.

We're not a great country because it is an entitlement. It is an inheritance. Each generation of Americans has a moral obligation to our children and grandchildren to be trustees of the great inheritance that we have been given to pass on a stronger country. The sacrifices made by those that have come before us beggar the imagination, and to see a president so fundamentally unsuited for this line of work.

WALLACE: It is startling, right?

SCHMIDT: It is shocking.

WALLACE: Let me ask you what you think gets in the way of Paul Ryan, who is a smart guy, and must see some of what you just described, and the microphones. Why can't he speak out -- why isn't there one person among the 16 republican opponents who were willing to say it might cost me my spot in this race, but i'm going to go down having said what you just said. That he is dangerous. That he doesn't understand what makes us great. Why won't Paul Ryan do that now? Saying it may cost me my speakership, but I cannot continue to keep holding out because I might get a tax reform bill. I mean and I want to carve out Ben Sasse and say he is the rare example, but why don't they see it as part of their jobs to be willing to lose their jobs to save the country?

SCHMIDT: I think a great hero of this country, Teddy Roosevelt Jr., the son of the president, one of the first ten men ashore as brigadier general leading the troops ashore on D-Day,

Leading troops ashore with a cane and a walking stick. Where are those leaders today that will put the country first? I think Paul Ryan is a good man, a good guy, but I think he lives a very sheltered and constricted life inside what has become a hermetically sealed bubble. A chairman of congress, chairman of some of the tax writing committees to speaker of the house.

WALLACE: It's like he stared at too many bar graphs.

SCHMIDT: He has a restricted view of what is going on in the country right now and what he is called to do. We talk about the hacking that took place in the election. It boggles my mind that so many Republicans seem incapable of understanding that this was not an attack on the Democratic party, it was an attack on the United States of America and the election process.

If you stand in the American cemetery in Normandy France, they are marked by American patriots. We're all in this together. We're one people, one country, and when you see Trump's further erosion of trust, trust and institutions, our very system, the cynicism he is injecting into it, the degree to which he is coarsening our culture, making it worse, endangering the lives of millions of Americans with his recklessness and national security policy, it is quite extraordinary to behold.

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