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You could highlight international praise for your permissive foreign policy, and downplay the enormous public safety, health care and national security risks engendered in your approach. Then, having sowed the seeds of a crisis, you could explore the value of removing the two-term limit.

All this is far too cynical, though. No president would ever start America down such a destructive path, even for political, personal or transformational reasons. No president would ever put innocent American families through such an act of collective tragedy, public deception, political indifference or autocratic assertion (and concession) of federal powers. This is just an imaginary sequence — impossible from start to finish. Right?

Robert B. Charles is former assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement in the George W. Bush administration.