Posted by: Bill | February 16, 2010

Does Obama not care if he only serves one term?

If this is true, I would grant the President a great deal of respect. Peggy Noonan kind of makes the argument in a recent WSJ editorial. This is gated so I will quote a few paragraphs:

There is, I think, an amazing political fact right now that is hiding in plain sight and is rich with implications. It was there in President Obama’s Jan. 25, pre-State of the Union interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, who was pressing him about his political predicaments. “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” he said. “And I—and I believe that.”

Now this is the sort of thing presidents say, and often believe they believe, but at the end of the day they all want two terms. Except that Mr. Obama shows every sign of meaning it, and if he does, it explains a lot about his recent decisions and actions.

A week after the Sawyer interview, the president had a stunning and revealing exchange with Sen. Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat likely to lose her 2010 re-election campaign. He was meeting with Senate Democrats to urge them to continue with his legislative agenda. Mrs. Lincoln took the opportunity to beseech him to change it. She urged him to distance his administration from “people who want extremes,” and to find “common ground” with Republicans in producing legislation that would give those in business the “certainty” they need to create jobs.

While answering, Mr. Obama raised his voice slightly and quickened his cadence. “If the price of certainty is essentially for us to adopt the exact same proposals that were in place leading up to the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression . . . the result is going to be the same. I don’t know why we would expect a different outcome pursuing the exact same policy that got us in this fix in the first place.” He continued: “If our response ends up being, you know . . . we don’t want to stir things up here,” then “I don’t know why people would say, ‘Boy, we really want to make sure those Democrats are in Washington fighting for us.'”

I don’t agree with everything Obama has done, but it’s difficult not to respect something like this. Sadly, I am….what’s the word I’m looking for here…a bit cynical. This could be nothing more than rhetoric, but I will watch a little closer to what he says along these lines.

The idea of term limits in all of Congress is attractive at many levels, but there are definitely drawbacks in a system as complex as the United States. It’s still nice to think about though. When the Republicans staged their “revolution” in 1994, they campaigned on arriving in Washington and leaving within 12 years. Some of them even held to this pledge. This sounds to me like a reasonable number of terms (2 for senators and 6 for representatives). You should be able to do a lot during 12 yeara, go home for awhile and then, if your people still want you, come back and run again.


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