The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Obama in 2016!

Yesterday I concluded a Google+ post with the above slogan.  I did not mean anything serious by doing so.  It was angry throwaway line to conclude an angry throwaway post.  

A month or two ago a commenter on a blog I frequent claimed that Obama would be reelected in 2016.  I thought this was paranoid nonsense, snorted, and moved on.  After all, we have a Constitution, the 22nd amendment of which states:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

That sounds pretty unequivocal to me.  I mean, two terms is two terms, right?  I am as cynical as anyone about the propensity of the media to cover for Obama, or the tendency of the judiciary to expand the reach of government -- and the Democrat party is the government party.  Still, I could not believe that a newscaster or a judge could say that 3 = 2 with a straight face.

But then I thought about it some more.

Let’s be clear:  As of February 2013 there no support whatsoever for electing Obama again.  If you Google "Obama 2016", you get nothing.  (Well, you get results, but they are the results that come from two random words in the same query).  

Obama has work to do, citizen -- (official) unemployment hovers around 8%, and the economy has unexpectedly stalled.  Talk of a third term is a distraction.  Probably with malicious intent.  Worse, it's mockery.  Mocking democracy -- why, it’s like mocking America itself.

But … in the year 2015 … I mean, 2015 is practically an eternity from now!  And in that distant future, when you first read someone advocate the rereelection of our sainted Nobel Prize winner -- you’ll be skeptical.  Because that’s who you are!  Intelligent and skeptical!  Mind you, things are pretty bad.  Unemployment  (of the official variety) is flirting with 9%, and something seems to be wrong with the "recovery."  People are putting scare quotes around it.  But a third term for Obama … well, it’s going too far.  You admire the people advocating it.  Their hearts are in the right place.

At this point, we're 90% done.  Aren't we?  When 2016 rolls around, and our President is making heroic efforts to keep (official) unemployment below 10%, and when you consider that Joe Biden has a propensity to fall asleep, and say ridiculous things when awake, and you see the news article touting Paul Ryan's newfound gravitas, and you consider the consequences of electing a (shudder) Republican …

A third term doesn't seem so outrageous.  It seems patriotic.

Oh, that 22nd amendment thing?

A loophole:  It is possible for Barack Obama, or Bush the Younger, or Bill Clinton, to serve a term as president.  They need to be in line for the presidential succession -- president pro tem of the Senate will do.  And then something needs to happen to the president and vice president.  Resignation will do.  Citizen, we're not bloodthirsty.

Will this happen?  No, of course not.  But it could happen.  And once you admit that it could happen … well, is this fair?  I mean, people who want to vote for Paul Ryan can just tick a box.  People who want to vote for Barack Obama have to find not one, but two politicians who will agree to run as placeholders -- and even more unlikely, who are trustworthy enough to give up power.

Isn't this inequitable?   Citizen, you're not going to privilege a bunch of dead white males over the right of every voter to cast a ballot, are you?

Does this strike you as sophistry?  Citizen, let me show you sophistry.  The talk of the chattering classes for the last year or two has been how the federal executive can evade the legislature-imposed debt limit by coining a gigantic platinum trillion-dollar piece.  (So help me God, perfectly sane and intelligent people of my acquaintance were touting opinion pieces which stated that such coinage was mandatory.)

Now let's do an exercise.  I want you to match one phrase from column A with one source from column B:

Column A
Nullification of the 22nd amendment
$1,000,000,000,000 platinum coin

Column BSober, responsible adult who is on the cutting edge of the political zeitgeist
Internet cartoon character who wears Mexican wrestling mask

That wasn't so hard, was it?  But if you still find this too specious (after all, a trillion dollar coin has not yet been minted), consider the case of Frank Lautenberg.  In 2002 Mr. Lautenberg was doing whatever it is newly retired senators do, when he was suddenly pressed into service.  New Jersey senator Frank Torricelli was running for reelection, but developed an inflammation of his ethical organs.  The Democratic party pressed Lautenberg into service as a replacement.

Nothing wrong with that … except that by law, it was too late for Lautenberg to be placed on the ballot.  And the opposition party filed suit.  What was the result?  

Citizen, there is Power, and Power does what it wants.  Power does not need to be lectured to by bitter clingers.  And Power is not detail-oriented!  It looks at the big picture.  Here is what Power, in the shape of the New Jersey Supreme Court, decided -- I quote Wikipedia:

the law did not provide for a situation like Torricelli's and [...] leaving Torricelli on the ballot would be an unfair advantage for Forrester

Mr. Lautenberg has been serving happily in the Senate ever since.

So please don't waste your time and mine prattling about how a court cannot nullify the text of a Constitutional amendment.  If an American court can implement the plot device of Harrison Bergeron, an American court can do anything.

Obama in 2016!  And citizen, please do not be worried that your vote for Obama is mandatory.  We can wait till 2020 for that.

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I think Obama is a great president

By Anonymous Marleen, at 7:40 AM  

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