From The New York Post
Written by Michael Goodwin
Across the land, the cry is heard: Throw the bums out! The people are prepared to do exactly that on Tuesday, but there’s a catch. There’s little to stop today’s insurgent from becoming tomorrow’s bum.
Or, as a pessimist once said, many reformers take office to do good and stay to do well.
Take heart, optimists, for there is an antidote to the corrupting disease of permanent poweritis. Term limits. They are a blunt instrument and they work.
They do it by forcing the turnover that the power of incumbency too often thwarts. By using gerrymandering, earmarks, favors for contributors and election laws to thwart challengers, too many incumbents get comfortable in office and make keeping it their mission.
Public service then become private service, which helps to explain how so many lifetime pols leave office filthy rich — emphasis on filthy.
Power corrupts, so prevention is the best medicine.
Presidents are limited to two terms by the Constituion’s 22nd Amendment, passed in 1951, to stop another FDR, who shattered the tradition of two terms by winning four.
Legal limits are popular in the states — about 35 have restrictions on governors and 15 have them on lawmakers. But members of Congress are free to serve as long as voters let them. That’s because the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot set limits for federal officers, meaning Congress would have to do it itself.
That’s not going to happen without overwhelming public demand and persistence. The 1994 Republican takeover of Congress included a pledge on term limits, but various bills all failed to get the required two-thirds majority.
But now, with the spirit of revolution sweeping America, the time and mood are right for congressional limits. The idea was popular among many of the founders, and it is returning as part of the public revolt against the growth and cost of government.
A recent Fox News poll found that 78 percent of Americans want term limits for Congress. Support was dramatic across the spectrum, with 84 percent of Republicans, and 74 percent of both Democrats and independents in favor.
New York City voters are in a position to help lead the movement. A ballot question on Tuesday gives voters the chance to limit elected city officials to two consecutive four-year terms.
That was the rule until last year, when Mayor Bloomberg convinced a pliant and greedy City Council to add a third term to the limits. Public anger over the end run around the referendums that established the limits did not stop Bloomberg’s re-election, and most council members also survived the backlash.
But the issue is back again, and Bloomberg promises he will vote for it. The only rub is that the change would allow anyone already in office to run for a third term.
That’s a small price to pay for this important measure, which is on the back of the ballot. It’s worth the effort to find it and vote “yes.”
Who knows? This could be the first shot heard round the nation and start a new push to prevent today’s reformers from becoming tomorrow’s bums.
Dems win the ‘race’ for irony
To appreciate the “holy s#!t” reaction to Bill Clinton’s bid to get a black candidate to quit the Florida Senate campaign, it helps to understand his cold race-and-ethnic calculation. Indeed, Clinton’s effort illustrates the stereotyping behind all group-identity politics, at which the Democratic Party is the master.
With the first black president now in the White House, Clinton has lost that honorary title and been demoted to doing the dirty work of dividing the racial pie. That meant telling black Rep. Kendrick Meek that he should get out of the Senate race so Dems could unite behind former Republican, and now independent, candidate Gov. Charlie Crist.
The aim of the 11th-hour maneuver wasn’t to boost Crist, who is white; it was to stop Marco Rubio, the GOP candidate who was cruising to victory in the three-way race.
Rubio is not just any Republican. He is Cuban-American, a charismatic rising star and, as a US senator, could be a national magnet for Latinos to vote Republican. That was the red flag that sent the White House and Clinton into action.
Their fear is that Rubio could break the Dem hold on Latinos, and might undo their pandering to illegal-immigration groups. After all, Rubio wants to secure the border and reduce government spending.
Can’t have that, so Meek was set up as the sacrificial lamb. Dems thought they could get away with strong-arming him because of Clinton’s standing among blacks, and because Barack Obama is in the White House. Nobody could accuse them of being anti-black.
True. But they are something else that is also reprehensible. They are slavish group-thinkers.
That’s the Dem way. You’re not you. You’re a member of a racial, ethnic or gender group and you are expected to behave in prescribed “authentic” ways, including buying into group-based appeals.
Fortunately, Meek said no deal. Good for him, and good for America. In some quarters, it’s still the land of individual opportunity.
Bold prince among peers
From Arabia, with wisdom. A billionaire Saudi prince who has supported the imam behind the Ground Zero mosque is joining opponents in calling for the mosque to move.
“People behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York,” Prince Alwaleed bin Talal told a Dubai magazine. “The wound is still there. We can’t just say, ‘Go to hell.’ ”
But “Go to hell” is pretty much what imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is saying, even after the prince’s sound advice.
Still, the door to compromise is now open. Alwaleed, who owns large chunks of Citibank and the Post’s parent company, News Corp., is a heavyweight in world Islamic affairs. His words could embolden other Muslims to break ranks with Rauf over the provocative location.
Pray it is so.
It’s ‘go time’ Charlie
With a GOP takeover of the House, Harlem voters have another reason to dump Charlie Rangel. The don of the New York congressional delegation will have far less clout under Republican control.
Voters shouldn’t need an excuse. Rangel’s name is synonymous with scandal, and his sense of entitlement in avoiding tax and ethical rules is a big strike against all incumbent Democrats.
Fortunately, a solid alternative is on the ballot. His name is Michel Faulkner, a Harlem pastor active in education, youth programs and police-community relations for nearly 20 years.
Faulkner is that rare bird — a black New York Republican. His time has come, if only voters will give him a chance.
A state official who knows Eliot Spitzer too well offers a scathing review of his CNN show. “Don’t he and Kathleen Parker sit uncomfortably close? I keep waiting for them to wheel him out strapped to a gurney wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask like in ‘Silence of the Lambs.’