Sunday, October 30, 2005

Second Term Woes Commonplace

The troubles facing President Bush a year into his second term are nothing new. Every president elected for more than one term in the last century has had to deal with scandals at high levels throughout their administrations. (New York Times: The Latest in Second-Term Scandals). Even FDR was confronted with extreme opposition when he attempted to expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 15 members, a move that almost cost him reelection in 1940.

Other more serious scandals have plagued subsequent multi-term presidents. Eisenhower lost his Chief of Staff to resignation thanks to accusations of corruption. Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to resign after he was indicted on bribery charges in his home state. President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment over the Watergate cover-up. President Reagan's second term played host to the Iran-Contra scandal that also involved his VP and successor George H. W. Bush. President Clinton's second term was marred by impeachment on charges of perjury. Now, President George W. Bush is facing scandals of his own involving his Chief of Staff Karl Rove and his Vice President's former Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby.

No president, regardless of how popular, is immune to second term blues. The reasons for it are already being discussed ad nauseum all over the web and I won't bother to repeat them here. What I haven't seen discussed, however, is a reexamination of the presidential term limits. Given the track record of virtually every two-term president we've had, it seems to me that it makes sense to restrict the office to a single term, be that a four-year term or a six-year term. I favor the latter as it is already a term length for the governorship in many states.

There are many on both sides of the aisle that strongly oppose term limits of any sort. Their argument is a valid one. In a democratic society, people have the right to vote for whomever they wish and term limits would infringe on that right. That is a true statement. Yet, we already place limits on who can fun for President. The candidate must be 35 years old and be a natural born citizen of the US. That candidate must also not have been elected twice, nor may the candidate's total service exceed 10 years. The candidate may not be a convicted felon. So we do have restrictions on the office. Why not amend the term limits to prevent the second term scandals that have plagued even our best presidents? Doing so is not an infringement on our rights, it is pure common sense.

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1 comment :

Alan Fraser said...

Adding FDR to that list was weak as the class of crime is high-level corruption and abuse of power and the GOP appears to have a virtual monopoly on it.

While Clinton's crime was a type of abuse of power in using his position to manipulate a young woman, it's not at all the same thing as the abuses committed by the GOP. (Yes, I understand that was not the charge on which he was impeached but that aspect is trivial. It's his personal rather than Presidential behavior that took him down.)

I don't really have anything to say on Republican corruption. It's so widespread that, once again, virtually every paper in the world is writing on it.