Presidential term limits: Should they stay, or should they go?
In his Dec. 27 Opinion piece, "Abolish presidential term limits," Jonathan Zimmerman suggests overturning the 22nd Amendment, which established the presidential term limits. I applaud the suggestion but don't think an incumbent president should be allowed to emulate Franklin Roosevelt.
Term limits are good. They bring new style, new leadership, and new ideas to American politics. We should keep the current presidential term limit and also limit US senators to no more than three six-year terms and members of the US House of Representatives to no more than eight two-year terms.
Eight years may be too short a time for a chief executive to lead a nation during a time of war. But unlimited terms for any elected offices limit progress and produce leaders who become increasingly out of touch with their constituencies and more and more in league with lobby groups and special interests.
Amend the 22nd Amendment and make term limits mandatory for all federal elected offices (not just the office of the president). (It might be a good idea to require Supreme Court justices to retire at age 80, too.)
In his Dec. 27 Opinion piece on abolishing presidential term limits, Jonathan Zimmerman argues that removing term limits would prevent presidents, such as President Bush (whom he cites as an example), from refusing to listen to the American people.
Mr. Zimmerman argues that incumbent presidents might continue to run for reelection indefinitely, and so public opinion would matter more to them.
First of all, Mr. Bush has not made any decisions about how to change the course in Iraq, as he promised after the November elections that he would do.
Second, anyone who has closely studied Bush knows that if there is one thing he does not do – even if an election is at stake – it is pander to polls.
A third term might have helped someone such as President Clinton, who was young and charismatic enough to win a third term in 2000.
However, Mr. Clinton might have had four terms in mind, or perhaps even five (so as to eclipse even Franklin Roosevelt's reign). And unlike Bush, Clinton was a classic polls-panderer.
Faced with a president who sweeps challenging issues under the rug or someone who sacrifices popularity to stick by what he thinks is right, I'll take the latter any time.
There are many good reasons for supporting the abolition of term limits. Encouraging poll-pandering isn't one of them.
Constantinos E. Scaros
Cliffside Park, N.J.
Professor, presidential history, New York University
Regarding the Dec. 22 article, "Clint's tale of sand and fury' ": It's nice to see that our US perspective on the horrors of war and the sacrifices made in wartime has broadened to include our former World War II enemies, the Japanese (and Germans).
It would be better if this perspective were even more inclusive. Let us acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of our African-American soldiers and sailors (at a time when they and other blacks were being treated as second-class citizens).
Despite their heroic contributions in every theater of combat (even Iwo Jima), these African-Americans continue to remain nearly invisible in these Hollywood World War II epics.
Eric V. Tait Jr.
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