Heather Mallick: Trump’s nuclear tweet means only Pence can save us

The only way Trump could surpass this is if he actually called a nuclear strike, Heather Mallick writes.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence addresses troops in a hangar at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan in December. As Donald Trump tweets about his nuclear button, only Pence can save us, Heather Mallick writes.


U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence addresses troops in a hangar at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan in December. As Donald Trump tweets about his nuclear button, only Pence can save us, Heather Mallick writes.

Writing about President Donald Trump’s latest eruption is like skating out onto a frozen lake and wondering when the ice will break. It’s thick as a brick, it’s bone china, still fat and flat, steady now, looking a bit bluish, is that a cracking noise, wobble, ice the texture of cold toast, snap, crackle, wet ankles, throw me a rope.

This was Trump’s tweet on Jan. 2: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

And the point was reached. The only way Trump could surpass this is if he actually called a nuclear strike. I began mentally filling a plastic storage crate with water, bleach, batteries, and a utility knife and bagging up my passport and cash in small denominations. All I lack is a local map (paper, not digital.)

On the other hand, no. The house has a working fireplace, the one thing you don’t abandon to head north where it might be slightly less nuclear. Here my loving family will gather to die, bickering over blankets and the last can of beans. Awww.

If Trump’s minions were to obey his orders to start a nuclear war, there is nothing anyone in the target zone could do. Ruined by Stephen King novels as I am, I suspect a terrible passivity would overcome anyone without small children to care for. This winter freeze would be a kindness, as would a chair on the porch as night falls, one’s last night on Earth.

Is this breaking point? No. Breaking point already happened for me. I no longer blame Trump for the mess he created. I blame the people who serve him, the nation that created the kind of voters who destroyed democracy’s good name by choosing him, the hunger for money that handed world-destroying power to a billionaire piece of trash. You broke it, you bought it, Americans.

I find I can no longer joke about Trump although of course I will still try. Sure, he’s an infantile, ignorant, foul-mouthed, incoherent brute. Yes, he’s bad at business, at fathering, at conversation, setting his own hair, wearing pants and eating. He lavishes American taxpayer money on himself like frosting from a spatula, he profits from the presidency while he’s still in it, his older sons are thugs, his wife is rooted to the spot like a grim statue — someone bring her a horse to sit on — his older daughter a mannequin in the Azerbaijani hotel industry married to a second-generation slum landlord, his younger daughter a broken doll.

At some point, Trump will cease bathing. He will stay in bed all day in a locked room yelling at the TV and tweeting. The White House is a bunker now. The rest of us should be grateful to Twitter for providing an alert system for this man’s gradual collapse.

In Canada, we judge prime ministers by how well they’d cope with Trump. Justin Trudeau can manage him, but there is nothing that will soothe the hyperactive Republicans who negotiate trade deals. The Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer, a sort of low-grade Mike Huckabee, is not bright enough. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is too candid to be let anywhere near Trump.

Is Trump mentally ill or just senile? Think of his slurred speech, repeated anecdotes, inability to recognize people or pronounce proper names, his “huge” and “unbelievable” go-to words, strange diet, indoor overcoats and peculiar hats, nonstop golfing, personal eccentricities, easily triggered rages and so on.

Although members of Congress have actually been briefed by psychiatrists on this question, it no longer matters. What matters are the people who surround him. My ears suddenly perk up like a pet hearing the rattle of kibble in the dish. This is something worth chewing on.

Trump’s staff — those who have survived — are more deplorable than he is, if only because they know better. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is officially unable to confirm that Trump is sane. She lies happily but when asked about Trump’s “mental fitness,” she refused to lie, instead saying Kim Jong Un’s sanity was the only concern. Imagine that.

I have ordered an emergency copy of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by unreliable American journalist Michael Wolff — the book that set Trump off — on these damaged people, if only to mark the new year by taking action, pointless pathetic action.

But again, it doesn’t matter whether his staff is fish, fowl or just plain unemployable. What matters is whether the majority of his toadying cabinet, including Michael Pence, would even confront him under Section 4 of the 25th amendment as being “unable.” Trump would deny it, and if Pence & Co. didn’t insist, that would give Pence only four days in power.

If they did insist, a Republican Congress would have to muster a two-thirds vote to dump President Trump. I doubt they will.

It’s like the journalist Dorothy Thompson’s question in 1941: Who goes Nazi? Who’d go along to get along? Look around you. You know perfectly well who’d find the bright side of tyranny if it meant personal security: most people. Is this Congress courageous or craven? I rest my case.

And so I must write the dreadful thing: Vice-President Michael Pence is mankind’s only hope for salvation, assuming that he opposes nuclear destruction. He’s an evangelical planning for End Times; he well may not.

Pence needs to campaign for the job, if only to lure Trump into firing him and forcing Congress to deal with the matter. Trump would presumably appear before Congress to defend himself. Low comedy would ensue, a pitiful Lear-like howl, but Trump would be out.

In the meantime, I’m out looking for a metal skewer for the fireplace to roast stray cats, and of course, a map.

More on