Tag Archives: 22nd Amendment

Why not a maximum age for POTUS?

Garland, Texas, resident Cynthia Stock poses an interesting question today in a letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News.

She notes that we have a minimum age for U.S. senators (30 years); she doesn’t mention that you have to be at least 25 years of age to run for the U.S. House and 35 to run for president.

Stock wants to know why we don’t impose a maximum age for presidential candidates. Hmm. Let me think. Does she have a couple of senior citizens in mind, such as 77-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders (who’s running for the Democratic nomination) and former VP Joe Biden (who might run for POTUS in 2020)?

The nation needs fresh ideas, fresh vision, fresh leadership, she writes. I wonder if “fresh” is code for “young.”

That’s not a half-bad notion, the more I think about it.

I oppose term limits for members of Congress. I suppose you could take that argument even farther by repealing the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that limits presidents to two elected terms; perhaps we could replace it with another amendment that places upper-end age limits on presidential candidates. Or would that amount to “age discrimination”? I’ll have to think about that.

Stock, though, makes another good point. She notes how the presidency has aged so many of its officeholders. President Franklin Roosevelt was not even 65 years of age when he died in April 1945 of a cerebral hemorrhage; same for President Johnson when he died in January 1973. The presidency took savage tolls on both those wartime presidents.

They were not old men when they died. The office made them much older than their years on Earth.

I’m not endorsing what Ms. Stock has proposed. I just thought it to be worth noting.

Wondering if term limits will return to debate stage

With all the hoo-hah in Washington about the battle of ideologies — conservative vs. liberal — I am wondering about the fate of the debate over term limits.

In 1994, Republicans led by U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, campaigned successfully on the Contract With America platform that included a silly proposition: to limit the terms of members of Congress.

Voters seemed to buy into the notion that we ought to place mandatory limits on the time House members and senators can serve. After all, we limit the president to two elected terms, thanks to the 22nd Amendment. Why not demand the same thing of Congress members?

Well, the idea hasn’t gone anywhere. It requires an amendment to the Constitution. Referring an amendment to the states for their ratification requires a two-thirds vote in both congressional chambers. Term limits proposals haven’t made the grade.

Term limits is primarily a Republican-led initiative. Democrats have dug in against the idea, saying correctly that “we already have term limits. We call them ‘elections.'”

I don’t favor mandatory limits. Indeed, there has been a significant churn of House members and senators already without the mandated limits. The new Congress comprises roughly a membership that includes roughly 25 percent of first-time officeholders. That ain’t bad, man!

Sure, there are deep-rooted incumbents from both parties who make legislating their life’s calling. However, I only can refer back to their constituents: If these lawmakers are doing a poor job, their constituents have it within their power to boot them out; if the constituents are happy with their lawmakers’ performance, they are entitled to keep them on the job.

Of course, we don’t hear much from the nation’s Republican in Chief, the president of the United States, about term limits. He’s too busy “making America great again” and fighting for The Wall. He can’t be bothered with anything as mundane and pedestrian as establishing limits for the amount of time lawmakers can serve.

But where are the GOP fire starters? Have they lost their interest? Or their nerve?

I’m fine with the idea remaining dormant. Just wondering whether it’s died a much-needed death.

Get ready for the thundering herd . . . of candidates

Lawrence O’Donnell, a noted MSNBC commentator, believes the upcoming campaign for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination is going to be a very crowded affair.

He believes the number of candidates will “start with the number two,” meaning that he expects more than 20 politicians to seek the nomination in hopes of running against Donald J. Trump.

On almost any level, this is an astounding story if it develops as O’Donnell believes it will. We might have an incumbent seeking re-election. Incumbency is supposed to build in a lot of advantages: platform, visibility, name ID, the perks of power.

Incumbent presidents often seek re-election miles ahead of any challenger.

Not this time. Not this president.

In 2016, we had 17 Republicans declare for their party’s nomination at the start of the primary season. Trump knocked them one by one over the course of the GOP primary campaign. He won the nomination on the first ballot and then, well, the rest is history. Meanwhile, Democrats fielded four candidates at the start of their season. Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged as the nominee. Again, you know it turned out for her.

That number seemed high at the time, although we had no incumbent running in 2016. President Obama had to bow out, according to the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The expected massive field of Democrats well might not even be the biggest story of the 2020 campaign. I am wondering — although not predicting — whether the president is going to receive a primary challenge from, oh, as many as two or three Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee might be in the mix. Same for Ohio Gov. John Kasich — my favorite Republican from the 2016 campaign. Then there might be Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

History shows that incumbents who receive primary challenges often do not fare well when the smoke clears and they have to run against the other party’s nominee in the fall. Just consider what happened to President Gerald Ford, President Jimmy Carter and President George H.W. Bush when they ran and lost in 1976, 1980 and 1992 respectively.

So, the new year begins with two Democrats already getting set to launch their campaigns. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro are planning to form exploratory committees as precursors to their candidacies. There will be many more to come.

Oh, and then we have the Robert Mueller investigation and whether his final report might inflict more political damage to an already wounded incumbent.

I am so looking forward to this new year.

Tough talk rises from GOP debate

chrischristie_0

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the following at the latest Republican Party presidential debate Thursday night.

Frankly, it’s a hoot.

“Mr. President, we’re not against you. We’re against your policies,” Christie said. “The American people have rejected your agenda and now you’re trying to go around it. That’s not right. It’s not constitutional. And we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.”

This is the guy who told a constituent to “sit down and shut up!” when the constituent — for whom Christie works in New Jersey — had the temerity to issue a critical statement at a public event. I’m trying to imagine myself telling any of the bosses for whom I worked to “sit down and shut up!”

It’s the kind of rhetoric that seems to endear him to many within the GOP.

But the idea that the Republican presidential nominee, whoever he or she is, will kick the president’s “rear end out of the White House come this fall” misses a fundamental point.

Barack Obama isn’t on the ballot. The U.S. Constitution places term limits on him. The 22nd Amendment says a president can be elected twice to the office. That’s it. Two and out, man.

Barack Obama was elected in 2008, winning 365 electoral votes while capturing more than 10 million more popular votes than Republican nominee Sen. John McCain; he was re-elected in 2012 with 332 electoral votes, while defeating GOP nominee Mitt Romney by nearly 5 million popular votes. He needed 270 electoral votes to win both times. His Electoral College majorities in both elections were substantial.

So, have “the American people rejected” the president’s agenda?

Seems to me — and I’m just tossing this out from the Flyover Country peanut gallery — that the president’s agenda played pretty well in the past two presidential elections.

The president is going to leave the White House a year from now on his own terms. He isn’t going to get his rear end “kicked out” of the place.

However, the tough talk that Christie — not to mention the other GOP hopefuls who debated the other night — sounds good to those who want to hear it.

If only it were true.

 

“Four more years!” for Obama?

There can be no doubt about this: Barack Obama’s critics went ballistic when the president said he could win a third term in the White House if he had the chance to seek it.

He reminded his hosts in Ethiopia today that the U.S. Constitution prohibits him from seeking another term. But then he said he’s been a “good president” and well might win in 2016.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/28/politics/obama-third-term-win-ethiopia/

Ah, yes. And he’d say anything about it if he thought he’d lose? Hardly.

The 22nd Amendment was enacted in 1947, spearheaded by a Republican congressional majority that was alarmed by the four elections won by Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They feared an “imperial presidency.” An earlier Democrat, Grover Cleveland, sought the office over the course of three consecutive elections, but lost his bid for re-election to a second consecutive term in 1888; he would come back four years later and be elected to a second term.

I am not at all thrilled about the term-limits provision for presidents, although I understand that the stress of the office has persuaded almost all the men who’ve held the office to bow out after a second term.

Still, Barack Obama isn’t the only recent president to look wistfully at the possibility of a third term.

Republican President Ronald Reagan said as much as his second term came to an end in January 1989. Twelve years after that, Democratic President Bill Clinton also mused aloud over whether he could win a third term.

I don’t recall President George W. Bush ever broaching the subject in public, given that the economy was collapsing when he left office in January 2009.

Whatever the motive for bringing it up this time, President Obama well might have been talking way past his audience in Africa and sticking it in the ear of his foes back home.

I’m quite sure they heard him … loud and clear.