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ashara76
10-05-2009, 10:11 PM
After the president, who comes next? I was able to find 18 but looking for a list of 25. Can anyone think of any I've missed? Or who would be a plausible choice?

1. Vice President
2. Speaker of House of Representatives
3. President pro tempore of the Senate
4. Secretary of State
5. Secretary of the Treasury
6. Secretary of Defense
7. Attorney General
8. Secretary of the Interior
9. Secretary of Agriculture
10. Secretary of Commerce
11. Secretary of Labor
12. Secretary of Health and Human Services
13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
14. Secretary of Transportation
15. Secretary of Energy
16. Secretary of Education
17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
18. Secretary of Homeland Security

Say something happened to the Secretary of the Interior. Would everyone move up a step, and then we'd get a new Secretary of Homeland Security, or would we find someone new to replace the Secretary of the Interior?

Sarpedon
10-05-2009, 10:33 PM
Cabinet positions (secretaries of interior, etc) are appointed by the President and approved by congress. It makes no sense to transfer everyone around if one of the Secretaries dies. Most likely his deputy would take over until a successor is appointed.

No one takes the presidential succession too seriously past the 2nd step or so.

PeterL
10-05-2009, 11:06 PM
I agree with Sarpedon. After the VP took office, he (or she) would appoint various people to replace some of the cabinet. Remember that the VP can be replaced by appointment, if he dies or leaves office. Spiro Agnew resigned as VP under Nixon, Nixon appointed Ford, Nixon resigned in shame, and Ford became President.

ashara76
10-05-2009, 11:14 PM
I'm not actually looking at taking the president out at the beginning, but rather getting some lesser cabinet members out of the way so that my man X is lined up for taking over the presidency. I was looking at accidents, natural deaths, that sort of thing to limit the competition, so to speak.

Although, if that won't work, I can always go with a crooked VP. =/

Which seems more plausible in your opinion?

DavidZahir
10-05-2009, 11:41 PM
According to the US Presidential Succession Acts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Succession_Act) (the most recent in 1947, but amended several times since then) here is the order as it stands now...


President
Vice President
Speaker of the House of Representatives
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
The officers of the Cabinet in the order of their department's creation, with the exception of the Secretary of Defense (taking the Secretary of War's place) thus:



Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Homeland Security (there was a failed effort to place this Cabinet member higher up, after Attorney General).

Keep in mind that all Cabinet appointments require the Advise and Consent of the US Senate, whereas a new Vice President must have the approval of both Houses of Congress. There've been two such "appointed" VPs, i.e. Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller. All of the above is an anything-but-instant process.

One scenario that immediately comes to mind is if the Cabinet had resigned en masse for some reason. Perhaps at the end of a one Presidential term following a truly bitter election, with few if anyone willing to stay on until their post is filled. This might even be SOP. President Carter asked for his entire Cabinet's resignation at one point, as a symbolic gesture for "rebooting" his administration. It is even possible some policy change might have motivated several resignations. Were this to happen while some Cabinet Positions were still up for confirmation, in theory this would open things up for someone lower on the list.

It seems like a big coincidence for the Vice Presidency to be empty at that moment, unless it were so related. For example, let us say President MacGregor barely won election in a divisive campaign, and did it by choosing Governor Paulson as running mate--someone individually popular with the extreme wing of their party but clearly incompetent and unsuited for the job. Then MacGregor suddenly dies of a stroke. Paulson might do something hair-brained like fire most of the Cabinet while taking his own sweet time in nominating replacements not only for the Cabinet but the Vice Presidency.

This would put three bodies between your hypothetical Secretary and the Oval Office -- President Paulson, the Speaker and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. This last is often an honorary position for one of the most senior-most Senators. Were that Senator to be very ill from advanced age or some such, then the period between his death and the election of a new President Pro Tempore would be the perfect window of opportunity.

PeterL
10-05-2009, 11:46 PM
If Agnew was thrown out, then another VP could be. You could have your guy on the sidelines, then the Vice Presidency could become vacant. Your guy could be appointed, then you can bump off the President. The 25th Amendment provides for the replacement of the VP.

For example, Joe Biden might get caught selling heroin to third graders and get thrown out. It would make a certain sense for Hillary to be the replacement. Then Obama could die in a plane crash over Arkansas. Hillary would be President with a minimum of fuss, and it could turn out to be a misidentification of Biden.

I think that this method would be more reliable than having your guy as secretary of Labor and bumping off everyone high up the list.

Sarpedon
10-05-2009, 11:48 PM
If Cabinet members started dropping like flies, I'd expect the Senate to speed up its approval process. Not to mention the Secret Service would probably take an interest.

ashara76
10-06-2009, 12:33 AM
I've actually planned it to be a rather slow process with about six or seven dying or becoming incapacitated over a two-year period. Three of which will occur in the third term year leaving my character to step in on year four.

StephanieFox
10-06-2009, 12:37 AM
Some historical background;

Nixon's V.P. Agnew resigned because he was accused and pleaded no contest for tax fraud. Nixon appointed Gerald Ford, the popular Speaker of the House became vice president, once he was confirmed by the congress. He was appointed NOT because her was Speaker of the House, but because Nixon knew he'd be confirmed since he could get along with members of both parties.

When Nixon resigned and Ford became president, he appointed J.D. Rockefeller as his V.P. He was the only V.P. never elected (since he hadn't been anyone's running mate in any election.)

Sarpedon
10-06-2009, 12:37 AM
They'd be replaced, unless the senate were controlled by the opposing political party, and they were feeling particularly obstructive. Remember how people were complaining about how slow Obama was in putting together his Cabinet? That only took 9 months or so to do them all.

The day to day functioning of the government would be impaired if so many cabinet positions were vacant for so long.

StephanieFox
10-06-2009, 12:38 AM
I've actually planned it to be a rather slow process with about six or seven dying or becoming incapacitated over a two-year period. Three of which will occur in the third term year leaving my character to step in on year four.


There better be a good excuse for all these people dying. Sound's suspicious to me.

Sarpedon
10-06-2009, 12:39 AM
I knew I should have installed that Carbon Monoxide detector in the Cabinet Chambers.

StephanieFox
10-06-2009, 12:46 AM
I knew I should have installed that Carbon Monoxide detector in the Cabinet Chambers.

It was a terrible accident. The bus carrying everyone to the Cabinet picnic skidded in the rain and drove off a proverbial 1,000 foot cliff.

Luckily, the Supreme Court bus missed the rain storm when Justice Thomas had the driver stop at a local truck stop so he could go to the men's room and everyone was distracted by the video games.

DavidZahir
10-06-2009, 02:35 AM
I have to join in with seeing problems with leaving any cabinet position unfilled for long.

hammerklavier
10-06-2009, 05:21 AM
If more than a few died at once, then I suspect we'd have martial law for awhile, hopefully terminating with a special election.

ashara76
10-06-2009, 05:58 AM
Hmm, I don't think I explained myself very well. Here goes.

The positions would not remain empty. They would be filled, I was only curious whether the original order of cabinet members would be rearranged during the filling, thereby shuffling around who might actually reach the presidency.

If the cabinet members do get bumped up to the next level, my problem is solved.

If not, I'll have to be a bit more (or maybe less) creative in my plot line. IE I can just have the VP with a hidden dark agenda unbeknownst to the world at large. Or, alternatively, I can stretch the truth a bit and say that the newly sworn in cabinet members are ineligible for presidential succession for some reason or another, once again leaving an opening for my MC to swoop in at the proper time.

Hope this is more clear. I love the amount of feedback and quick responses I get on this site. Very informative.

poetinahat
10-06-2009, 06:07 AM
When Nixon resigned and Ford became president, he appointed J.D. Rockefeller as his V.P. He was the only V.P. never elected (since he hadn't been anyone's running mate in any election.)

Correction: that was Nelson Rockefeller. J.D. was a little past his prime at this point.

MaryMumsy
10-06-2009, 07:09 AM
Hmm, I don't think I explained myself very well. Here goes.

The positions would not remain empty. They would be filled, I was only curious whether the original order of cabinet members would be rearranged during the filling, thereby shuffling around who might actually reach the presidency.

No, they would not be shuffled.

If the cabinet members do get bumped up to the next level, my problem is solved.

They are chosen for a specific post, and would not get 'bumped up'.

If not, I'll have to be a bit more (or maybe less) creative in my plot line. IE I can just have the VP with a hidden dark agenda unbeknownst to the world at large. Or, alternatively, I can stretch the truth a bit and say that the newly sworn in cabinet members are ineligible for presidential succession for some reason or another, once again leaving an opening for my MC to swoop in at the proper time.

Two reasons they might not be eligible: not born a US citizen, or not old enough. IMO, someone who didn't meet both those requirements would not be chosen for a cabinet post high up the list.

Hope this is more clear. I love the amount of feedback and quick responses I get on this site. Very informative.

MM

DavidZahir
10-06-2009, 11:21 AM
No, Cabinet positions in the US government don't get shuffled. That just isn't how it works, not in the United States.

Being born outside US borders would not necessarily disqualify anyone. John McCain was born in Panama, of US citizen parents, and there's little real doubt that if elected he would have served. "Natural Born Citizen" has never been legally defined, although it is pretty universally acknowledged that such is distinct from "Naturalized Citizen."

There are only two certain things that will bar someone from the Presidency: If they are a naturalized citizen (like Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State), or if they are under 35 years of age (cannot think of a single Cabinet member who fits that). There is an even less likely third possibility--namely, if a person has already served ten years as President. One person may only be elected twice, and serve as President for up to ten years (if taking office upon the death of the president, for example).

It is barely possible that Congress might shift the order of Cabinet seniority in terms of Presidential succession. But such has been proposed before and never really come close to passage.

The scenario I described earlier might work, especially if the Speaker of the House were a naturalized citizen and thus barred from the Presidency.

Sarpedon
10-06-2009, 05:03 PM
Madeline Albright was also a naturalized citizen. There's no rule saying that Cabinet members must qualify to be president. Like I said, no one really takes the Cabinet position succession seriously, because four people have to die or be arrested at once with no time for a congress session to appoint successors. The only feasible way that could happen is if Washington got nuked, or someone flew a plane into the Capitol during the State of the Union Address.

PeterL
10-06-2009, 05:09 PM
It appears that there is a confusion between the cabinet in a parliatmentary prime minister goverrnment, like the UK and the presidential government in th U.S. In a parliamentary government, the cabinet is chosen from the parliament. In the U.S. the cabinet is a collection of appointed advisors, who can come from anywhere; they just need to have their appointments confirmed by the Senate.

ashara76
10-06-2009, 08:11 PM
Thank you all for your advice.

Reading your comments, I took a step back and reevaluated my scenario. As several of you have pointed out, having several cabinet members perish while in office comes across as hard to believe. That's not how I want it to come across to a reader. They need to be able to believe what they're reading could happen or else they'll lose interest and put the book down.

It occurs to me the most plausible plot would have the VP as the villain. I think I will still have two or three cabinet members perish or become involved in scandal over a two year stretch. It is key to have these people removed before the VP takes office. One will be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, one will be the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the last (maybe) will be the Secretary of Homeland Security.

PeterL
10-06-2009, 09:27 PM
I wonder where you will go with it. The games that Cheney played were more intricate than any writer of fiction would have bothered with.

DavidZahir
10-06-2009, 09:46 PM
Thank you all for your advice.

Reading your comments, I took a step back and reevaluated my scenario. As several of you have pointed out, having several cabinet members perish while in office comes across as hard to believe. That's not how I want it to come across to a reader. They need to be able to believe what they're reading could happen or else they'll lose interest and put the book down.

It occurs to me the most plausible plot would have the VP as the villain. I think I will still have two or three cabinet members perish or become involved in scandal over a two year stretch. It is key to have these people removed before the VP takes office. One will be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, one will be the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the last (maybe) will be the Secretary of Homeland Security.
I'm not real clear on the purpose of this chicanery, at least as regards the line of succession. Should the VP be a devious villain of the kind you mention, why aim his/her machinations against the Speaker or President Pro Tempore, much less any members of the Cabinet? The VP is first in line to succeed, no matter what.

IceCreamEmpress
10-06-2009, 09:58 PM
I'm not actually looking at taking the president out at the beginning, but rather getting some lesser cabinet members out of the way so that my man X is lined up for taking over the presidency.

In one of Philip K. Dick's books, there is some kind of disaster (aliens? terrorists? can't remember) where the Pres, VP, Speaker, President Pro Tem of the Senate, etc. are all killed when Washington is destroyed, so the Secretary of Labor becomes a rather ineffectual President (she was in Iowa or somewhere when the disaster happened).

Dicentra P
10-06-2009, 10:12 PM
FWIW West Wing had a plausible scenario where the Speaker of the House took over. The VP resigned in disgrace and the president voluntarily stepped down until a terrorist kidnapping of his daughter was resolved. The Speaker would have less scrutiny than the VP. If he engineered the disgrace of the VP that forced resignation and then took out the president. I think I would go one step further. I'd disgrace the VP and then take out the president and the speaker in one blow.

DavidZahir
10-07-2009, 12:11 AM
Or (again, expanding on an earlier scenario)...

The President has cancer (a fact kept secret to all but a few). The Speaker is a naturalized citizen so cannot become President. The President pro tempore is a very old man of 95 or something, expected to die any moment.

The President dies, and the Vice President takes the oath of office. One of the cabinet officials is a close ally of the new POTUS, and persuades him to fire several key cabinet officials--let us say the Secretaries of State, the Treasury and Defense. This leaves the Attorney General clearly the next in line until those new cabinet positions are filled. If in fact Congress is not in session right this moment, our nefarious Attorney General has a window of opportunity if he can somehow get rid of the new President.

Don't know if that meets your needs, but it is at least a fun scenario in an evil scheming kinda way.

ashara76
10-07-2009, 08:26 PM
Thank you very much, DavidZahir. That does sound very interesting and could be very helpful. Evil scheming is exactly what I'm aiming for.

Truth be told, it's not pertinent to my plot what will happen after the villain attains the presidency beyond some vague details. It was more of a "What if" scenario. But to clear matters up, I'll give some additional details.

The VC is having his strings pulled by a secret organization attempting to orchestrate a worldwide disaster. Due to their operations in various countries, they are lining up the U.S. to become a Supreme World Power. They need to remove key people who would oppose any radical move the new President would propose. They need to be able to strike fast, while the American people are still reeling from the loss, and furious.

It is my MC's job to ensure that the VC's plot fails. If he succeeds, the world will be none the wiser.

The point of the query was therefore to make my VC's plot feasible, and to give my MC a reason for doing what he's doing. More of a background plot, if you will.

Sarpedon
10-07-2009, 08:32 PM
So kinda like "the Manchurian Candidate?"

Haggis
10-07-2009, 09:06 PM
Some historical background;

Nixon's V.P. Agnew resigned because he was accused and pleaded no contest for tax fraud. Nixon appointed Gerald Ford, the popular Speaker of the House became vice president, once he was confirmed by the congress. He was appointed NOT because her was Speaker of the House, but because Nixon knew he'd be confirmed since he could get along with members of both parties.

Though Ford wanted to be Speaker, his party didn't have control of the House. He was Minority Leader when appointed VP.


When Nixon resigned and Ford became president, he appointed J.D. Rockefeller as his V.P. He was the only V.P. never elected (since he hadn't been anyone's running mate in any election.)

Strictly speaking, Nelson Rockefeller was the second, Ford being the first.

mscelina
10-07-2009, 09:20 PM
There is a precedent, by the way, for NOT having a vice president. Andrew Johnson didn't appoint a vice president when he succeeded Abraham Lincoln.

ashara76
10-07-2009, 10:23 PM
So kinda like "the Manchurian Candidate?"

The comparison to "The Manchurian Candidate" falls short when taking in the context of the entire novel. As I have tried to point out, this is a small part of the novel, a way to tie up loose ends at the end.

It is a struggle between two organizations and the people who work for them. One is a well-known peace promoter, currently dealing drugs and arms on the side. The other is a militaristic organization that is not publicly known.

The main focus is on two agents from each organization as they carry out their missions, and the moral dilemmas they face.

Haggis
10-07-2009, 11:08 PM
There is a precedent, by the way, for NOT having a vice president. Andrew Johnson didn't appoint a vice president when he succeeded Abraham Lincoln.

I'm fairly certain they couldn't do that until the passing of the Twenty Fifth Amendment sometime after Kennedy was assassinated.

mscelina
10-07-2009, 11:14 PM
The twenty-fifth amendment provides for the nomination and appointment of a Vice-President, but doesn't mandate the required filling of the office.

Twenty-fifth amendment, section 2:


Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.



So my point was that there is a precedent for leaving the office of Vice President empty and no legal requirement otherwise.

blacbird
10-07-2009, 11:22 PM
When Nixon resigned and Ford became president, he appointed J.D. Rockefeller as his V.P. He was the only V.P. never elected (since he hadn't been anyone's running mate in any election.)

Nelson Rockefeller.

caw

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-07-2009, 11:33 PM
I've actually planned it to be a rather slow process with about six or seven dying or becoming incapacitated over a two-year period. Three of which will occur in the third term year leaving my character to step in on year four.

This is not like taking out the heirs to a throne. If Cabinet members die or are unable to serve, they get replaced. By the time you bump off the last one, there will be more in place.

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-07-2009, 11:35 PM
The twenty-fifth amendment provides for the nomination and appointment of a Vice-President, but doesn't mandate the required filling of the office.

Twenty-fifth amendment, section 2:

Quote:
Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.



Shall means he MUST do it.

Sarpedon
10-07-2009, 11:47 PM
This is not like taking out the heirs to a throne. If Cabinet members die or are unable to serve, they get replaced. By the time you bump off the last one, there will be more in place.

If there's one thing this country has no shortage of, its politicians.

blacbird
10-07-2009, 11:51 PM
The entire purpose of the Presidential line of succession is to prevent the kind of scenario you're postulating, to guard against a governmental takeover by such means.

caw

blacbird
10-08-2009, 02:38 AM
Nixon's V.P. Agnew resigned because he was accused and pleaded no contest for tax fraud. Nixon appointed Gerald Ford, the popular Speaker of the House became vice president, once he was confirmed by the congress. He was appointed NOT because her was Speaker of the House, but because Nixon knew he'd be confirmed since he could get along with members of both parties.

Actually Ford was never Speaker of the House, and therefore never in the Presidential line of succession. Ford was the House Minority Leader at the time Nixon nominated him for the Veepship.

caw

mscelina
10-08-2009, 02:42 AM
Shall means he MUST do it.

But not when. That's my whole point. The Constitution and the amendments do not stipulate a time period for this procedure to take place. As I just mentioned in a PM to someone, the President can conceivably claim to have not made a decision throughout the rest of his term and Constitutionally no one can do anything about it. *shrug*