Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville has an idea about how to make next week’s inauguration as safe as possible: Just move it to a few weeks later!
“We probably could have had a swearing-in and inauguration later after we got this virus behind us a little bit,” Tuberville suggested in an interview with a local TV station. “Again, we’re talking about Washington, DC.”
Er, so, this is awkward, senator, but the whole Inauguration Day thing isn’t, um, movable?
See, there’s this document called the Constitution — it’s kind of a big deal — which makes very, very clear that the transfer of presidential power has to happen on January 20 at noon. It’s all right there in section I of the 20th Amendment; “The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.” It was ratified by the states in 1933. Which was 88 years ago.
This isn’t the first time that Tuberville, who beat Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in November, has shown a, um, lack of familiarity with the Constitution.
In an interview with the Alabama Daily News conducted shortly after his victory, Tuberville expounded on how he thinks the government operates.
“Our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three branches of government — wasn’t set up that way,” Tuberville said, adding: “You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive.”
So, a few things. First, the three branches of government are the executive, the legislative and the judicial. Second, the judicial branch isn’t a partisan body where Republicans and Democrats fight for control.
(In that same interview, Tuberville said his father fought in World War II “to free Europe of socialism,” which [checks history book] was not what World War II was a fight against.)
Now, there’s no requirement that you have to know the ins and outs (or even the basics) of the Constitution in order to hold an office. But one might also reasonably conclude that if you did happen to be elected to the United States Senate, you would want to buff up any weak(er) spots in your knowledge about the country’s fundamental governing document.
Not so apparently with Tuberville, who came to the Senate having never run for any elected office before — his formative professional experience was as the head coach of the Auburn football team — and whose first two votes in Congress were to object to the Electoral College counts in Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Tuberville regularly touted his lack of political experience on the campaign trail as evidence he wasn’t beholden to the permanent political class in Washington. “I’m tired of seeing the kickbacks and the swamp,” he told an audience in 2019. “This is not an ego trip. I have money in the bank. I want this job.”
An editorial published in in the Anniston Star published shortly after Tuberville’s win seems prophetic now as he struggles to grasp the basics of how the government works.
“Good luck in Washington, coach,” read the piece. “Getting acclimated to the issues will be tougher than going 7-3 against the Alabama Crimson Tide, as you did in your tenure at Auburn. And we know how hard that was.”
Analysis: Sen. Tommy Tuberville, meet the Constitution. Constitution, Sen. Tuberville. The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ CNN.