EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 8, 2013

Column: Option of a third term could produce second-term results

I’m not so sure the nation is well served these days or perhaps ever was by limiting the terms of its chief executive. It seemed like a good idea at the time following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four elections to the presidency, but the negatives, I believe, have come to outweigh the positives.

That doesn’t mean that I am in favor of extending the current president’s tenure in the Oval Office or for that matter any particular future occupant. It merely says that after so many years of watching the second term become far less productive than it might, I’m convinced lame ducks should be limited to the dinner table.

The reasons are relatively simple. The mere possibility that a president has the option of running for a third term relieves his operational impotency in the second when both his opponents and his allies regard him with far less respect politically, especially during the final two years. The muscle needed to bring about results has atrophied even if the master of the White House is considered a strong caretaker.

Barack Obama is a perfect example. His chances of accomplishing much more than straightening out the mess in his one domestic initiative, the Affordable Care Act if that is even possible, already are slim with such issues as tax and immigration reform and controlling runaway entitlements probably not likely.

So in his case, the deficiencies in his ability to govern have begun a year early and it would take an election miracle a year from now to give him the majorities needed in Congress, including recapturing the House and preserving, if not expanding control of the Senate, to change the outlook. Under the current circumstance that seems not only remote but slipping away with each new kerfuffle on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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