April 14, 2006
Term limits, schmerm limits

Anna is giving us all a blast from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's past, in the form of various news accounts circa 1993 and 1994, when KBH was first campaigning to be a Senator. All stories contain some variation on the following quote:

"I've always said that I would serve no more than two full terms. This may be my last term or I could run for one more. But no more after that. I firmly believe in term limitations and I plan to adhere to that," Hutchison said.

So much for that, obviously. This subject actually came up last year, when KBH was doing her should-I-run-for-Governor tango. What I wrote then is more or less how I feel about the subject now, and since I'm feeling a bit lazy, I'm going to quote myself:

One-time support for term limits among current (almost exclusively Republican) incumbents is to the Nineties what pot smoking was to the Sixties: everyone who was anyone did it, nobody wants to talk about it now, and when forced to confront it, the accused chuckles nervously, shrugs his or her shoulders, makes vague references to the prevailing culture of the time, and changes the subject as quickly as possible.

This was always a sham and a gimmick; as I predicted at the time (sorry, my blog archives only go back so far), once a bunch of incumbent Democrats had been term-limited the old-fashioned way, the idea quickly vanished into the ether among those Republicans who ran for office promising to limit themselves. As this MyDD diary shows, there's quite of few of those folks still in Congress, gearing up to run for a term they once swore they wouldn't ever serve.

Since the upcoming 2006 election is often compared in the news to the 1994 campaign, I think it would make for an interesting story for someone to ask all of these people why they're not holding themselves to that promise they made back in those heady days of yore. I don't support term limits, so I'm not exactly unhappy that they've fallen from favor, but hey, a promise is a promise, and as one challenger to a term-limits supporter put it:

[Zach] Wamp’s Democratic foe in Tennessee’s 3rd District, Terry Stulce, says he is running to “help Zach keep his word on at least one promise he made in 1994.”

Stulce - an Army veteran, social worker and first-time candidate - concedes that many voters are willing to overlook a broken term limit pledge, but he says the issue is a moral barometer. “You can’t say, ‘Okay, that was 12 years ago and things have changed and now I can’t leave even though I promised.’ I think it’s more about character,” Stulce said.

So, Kay Bailey. Why have you broken your promise on term limits?

UPDATE: USA Today is on the case (via The Stakeholder), while Vince points out that KBH actually sponsored a term-limits constitutional amendment.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 14, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

You're making quite an assumption about a politician's inability to keep a promise. Maybe they have indeed stop serving the public just about when they promised they would.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on April 14, 2006 6:18 PM