WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- Too bad Hollywood has not made a movie lampooning the current presidential election.
But it would not be a Jimmy Stewart/Mr. Smith Goes to Washington flick. More appropriate is Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, a brilliant, dark satire that concluded with the detonation of the Soviet Union's "doomsday machine" destroying human kind. The great late British comedian Peter Sellers played three roles—the American president Merkin Muffley; Dr. Strangelove; and RAF Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake.
In our blockbuster, it is the absurdity of the political process and not nuclear war that condemns the American public to the 2016 presidential campaign. Unfortunately, while the prospect of nuclear war could be satirized, making jest of how America selects its leader is less a laughing matter than a Shakespearean tragedy.
Republicans nominate a candidate who is neither a Republican nor a conservative. Deceitful, destructive Donnie Trump literally vulgarized his way to his party's candidacy. Bernie Sanders persists believing that Hillary Clinton will be mortally wounded by emails or other scandals -- that could propel a non-Democrat, independent socialist to the top of that ticket. The only questions are which actors would be best suited for leading roles, although Larry David is arguably a better Bernie Sanders than Sanders is.
Here is how this Strangelovian plot unfolds. Weeks before the election, Trump, played by Woody Allen (who like Sellers will have three roles --Trump, Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden), finds himself forced to testify in court over allegations and evidence of massive fraud at Trump University. Meanwhile, Clinton barely wins the nomination. However, after a fitful convention that is a parody of Animal House, Sanders/David bolts and runs as an Independent. Then, as Clinton was gloating over Trump's legal travail, the FBI recommends she face criminal charges over her email accounts.
The result is that both party nominees face huge legal problems. Sanders demands that his opponents stand down. Facing strong evidence of fraud, Trump attempts to defer his testimony until after the election. Party elders demand that Clinton withdraw and offer Biden as her replacement. However, it is too late for Biden to be placed on the ballots of a majority of states.
The solution, raised by Bill Clinton playing himself, is to put Biden on the bottom of the ticket as insurance in the event Hillary Clinton is forced to quit. The election turns into an ongoing TV reality show/parody, part Survivor and part Saturday Night Live. Meanwhile, Trump's attorneys petition the Supreme Court to stay his testimony and Sanders sues the Democratic Party claiming that Biden cannot be inserted onto the ticket at such a late date.
On Nov. 9, the day after the election, the country is suffering from a massive political hangover. No candidate has won the necessary 270 electoral votes for the presidency. While awaiting the Electoral College's formal vote in late December, each of the candidates uses all means fair and foul to cajole, convince or corrupt electors to change their votes.
The divided Supreme Court remains divided 4-4 over granting Trump's request, leaving unresolved the opposing decisions of the lowers courts to approve and deny deferral. Trump then purposely misses his court date on the grounds of the case being unsettled and is charged with contempt. With the Electoral College deadlocked on Jan. 20, 2017, the Constitution directs that the House of Representatives elect the president and the Senate the vice president.
Because the House must vote for president by states and not individual members, a majority of 26 votes is required. The Republicans maintain a small majority in total House members but not by states. So none of the three wins the vital 26. With the term of the last president (and vice president) expired and no replacement elected, the Constitution tasks Congress to choose an interim president but does not specify how. In the movie, the Democrats win the Senate. Thus, a Republican House and Democratic Senate are unable to choose an interim president. And a divided court cannot act either.
According to the Constitution, with no president or vice president, the Speaker of the House assumes the presidency. However the speaker need not be a member of the House. So, Trump is nominated to run against Speaker Paul Ryan, played by Matt Damon. That is where this flick ends -- with the nation in political chaos.
And Hollywood producers are vying for the sequel.
Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist and serves as senior adviser for Supreme Allied Commander Europe, at the Atlantic Council and Business Executives for National Security and chairs two private companies. His last book is "A Handful of Bullets: How the Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Still Menaces the Peace." His next book due out next year is "Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Wars It Starts."