Sunday, December 9, 2007

The 22nd Amendment and Hillary Clinton

"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, less the sections concerning the sitting president at the time of ratification, is the 22nd amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It's most obvious effect is to prevent America from becoming a dictatorship, with one stagnant administration permanently entrenched in power. While it may violate the purity of democratic principles, I believe it is one of the many justifiable limits on those principles. I also believe it should apply to spouses.

It may not fit the letter of the law, but I believe it fits the spirit of it. To understand that, one must first consider the environment in which the 22nd amendment was created. It was 1947 when it was proposed, and 1951 when it was ratified. Much has changed in society in the last 50 years, and circumstances have arisen that those who passed Amd. 22 no doubt never envisioned. A woman president was one. This was 15 years prior to Gene Roddenberry being told he could not have a female first officer on his mythical star ship because it simply was not believable to Americans of that era. For surprisingly many, it still isn't. So it should not seem outlandish to assume those who proposed Amend. 22 never envisioned the spouse of a former president herself becoming president, or that said former president would once again occupy the White House, merely sleeping on the other side of the bed.

Married couples are legally one entity in many respects, and there are many good reasons for that, not the least being that their decisions are often made in a joint fashion which blurs the individual desires. How could this not be the case with presidential decisions? Who doubts the influence of Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, and yes, Hillary Clinton, on the decisions made by their husbands. In the cases of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan, they were able to pursue high-profile campaigns (Nancy against drugs, Hillary for national health care) they would never have had the opportunity to pursue were they not first lady, and campaigns that no doubt required the approval of the president. In a sense, they all were president, at least in part. That's not a criticism, if anything it is complimentary of driven intelligent women that took advantage of the opportunity they were given. Nonetheless, it runs against the spirit of the 22nd amendment to allow both of those people back into the White House on the grounds that this time the spouses will simply reverse their roles in enforcing their dual decisions.

If you find that unpersuasive, consider certain social trends, and you can easily envision a scenario that will seem even more against the spirit of the 22nd Amendment, and for no real reason aside from sheer chauvinism. When legal recognition of homosexual marriage becomes the norm in America, and trust me, it will, that opens up the possibility that a man and his HUSBAND could pull a Bill-n-Hill and occupy the White House for 16 years. Imagine, if you can, Bill Clinton married to George Bush, with Bill as president and George as First Man from 1992 to 2000, and then them flip flopping (I know its tough, but bear with me here) and George being president and Bill being First Man from 2000-2008. There would be protests galore against that, as there should be.

The only reason any of us can entertain the notion that Hillary wasn't really president-in-part before is because there is still a chauvinistic part of us that can buy the idea of a woman being totally intellectually subservient to her husband. Thanks Christianity, that was always one of your worst features. But the idea of a man being married to another man who is president and having no input at all in policy decisions? It's preposterous on its face. Now if we can just get over our chauvinism, we can see how preposterous it is to think of President Hillary and First Man Bill Clinton as being what was envisioned by the ratifiers of the 22nd amendment.

For that reason, I do not think Hillary Clinton should be allowed to become President of the United States. It doesn't matter whether she would make a good one or a lousy one. Billary had their 8 years, the 22nd amendment says someone else gets a shot now. And trust me, I can't be the only person out there thinking this. If Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, the Republicans would be fools to not pursue this line of argument, and it will cost votes a polarizing figure like Hillary can ill afford to lose. So not only is a Hillary Clinton nomination arguably unconstitutional, it is also a likely loser, and we could end up with Minister in Chief Huckabee as a result.

And if any of you are thinking we could apply this argument to the adult children of presidents, well, I agree, we could. Maybe we should consider that as well.


Harriet said...

I have to disagree with you here.

Let me ask you this question: if there were term limits for senators, then would Bill be prevented from running for Hillary's seat for the same reason?

No, I don't consider Hillary Clinton to have been Co-president with Bill no more than I consider Bill to be co-senator with Hillary.

One could make the argument that your position further blurs the identity of the wife with that of her husband, which is something women have been fighting for years.

ScienceAvenger said...

My answer would be "yes", I would apply the same logic to Senators. I think term limits are the sort of law that should be applied very liberally, because I think that is the safer side to err.

I can see your final point, but I think my Bush/Clinton hypothetical, and our reaction to it, refutes it.

Harriet said...

One other comment: you referred to "Minister Huckabee".

As far as I am concerned, Hillary Clinton would cream him in the general election

(by the way, I am backing Obama, so she isn't my first choice)

But as far as Hillary Clinton, I'd invite you to consider two points:

1) Huckabee would offer women absolutely nothing; I can see professional Republican women and independent women voting for HRC.

2) The Bourbons in the Republican party can't stand Huckabee either; he would be bad for business. And well, HRC is about as corporate friendly as they come! The Bourbons could live with her.

Ed Darrell said...

That's silly. If you're trying to tar Laura Bush with George's adventurism and pure idiocy, you're not thinking very hard about this.

Plus, the amendment is clear: It applies to a person, not the person's spouse. For the purposes of this law, marriage does not make two people, one entity.

ScienceAvenger said...

I hear you Ed, I understand what the strict meaning of the amendment is. But I'm convinced the spirit of the amendment is much broader, and I predict if Hillary is elected (and trust me, she's not anywhere near my last choice) there will be a push to change the amendment (or add another one) to make that interpretation explicit.

Anonymous said...

"And trust me, I can't be the only person out there thinking this."

You're not. I've been saying something to this effect on my own site for a long time now. But I've also taken a different approach, too.

First, on the point of the 22nd Amendment, Bill Clinton told the country that we should vote for him because we get a "Two For One" since Hillary is more then qualified to be President, and she was running with him as "Co-President."

An unelected, unaccountable woman was running the White House for and with Bill Clinton according to many different accounts, most notably the volumes of material written by Dick Morris (Collected in his Tome "Rewriting History")and she WAS the Co-President by all accounts, and many of their supporters such as Jim Carval beamed with PRIDE at how Hillary was the CO-PRESIDENT.

By their past words and deeds, she's ineligible to be the President.

Worst of all (can there be a 'worst' in all this? You bet!) is the notion of Dynasty.

Stop and think of this: If Hillary wins this coming election, then that'll mean that the same two groups of people have alternated the White House since 1992. It's been Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton for 24 years after her first term, 28 after her second if she's re-elected.

If you count the years when George Sr. was vice President during the Reagan years starting in 1980, that'll mean after Hillary's first term, A Bush or Clinton has been in "The White House" for 32 years after her first term, 36 years after her second.

So, Hillary supporters are calling for "Change?" How is THAT change? You know that most of the same people Bill used in his Cabinet will show up in some capacity in Hillary's. Can you convince me otherwise?