|THE SECOND TIME AROUND|
An exploration of Presidential Second Terms
in this forum:
What advice would Eisenhower give Clinton about how to have a successful second term? Are Presidents more likely to speak their minds in their second term i.e. Eisenhower and his "Military Industrial Complex" speech? How does the "lame duck syndrome" effect the workings of the Presidency? What kind of a physical toll does eight years in the White House take on the President? Should Americans have the opportunity to award a successful President a third term? Why didn't Truman and Johnson run for second terms?
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Online NewsHour Links
December 23, 1996: A NewsHour panel of historians looks at historical second terms.
December 20, 1996: President Clinton announces the new cabinet members who will join him for his second term.
December 6, 1996: Perspective on foreign policy and second term presidents comes from a panel of historians.
Stephen Ambrose looks at the formative years of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Character Above All investigates the role of character in the American presidency.
Phil Snead of New Haven, CT
Repeal the 22nd Amendment?
The panel moderated by Hunter-Gault on 12/23 (Beschloss, Duberstein, Goodwin, and Johnson) seemed at least tacitly to agree that the 22nd Amendment tended to undermine the President's ability to lead effectively during the second term. Yet the public outcry still sounds: politicians can't govern because they're constantly running for office, silly season or no.
Maybe the public shouldn't worry so much.
Maybe the lesson of all this is that we can't live WITH politics-as-usual any more than we can live WITHOUT it. Should we simply stop worrying about putting a stop to bad politics and bad politicians? -- Then we could just let them all keep going, and going, and going, like the battery bunny, since the consequent inevitability of facing the electorate every now and then would obviate "lame-duckness" (thanks, Charlayne!), discourage hubris, and entail at least the appearance of public accountability.
This might not reform politics, but at least we could relax and enjoy ourselves. And read more great Ambrose books.
So my question is this: was FDR even in his fourth term more of a menace to democracy than Reagan or Nixon in their respective second terms? And, if not, should we be thinking about lopping off an Amendment?
Jeff Doran of Severna Park, MD
What is your opinion on allowing presidents to seek a third term, and even perhaps enabling presidents to serve a five- year term, instead of four years? Should this be an option?
Steve Brand of Corrales, New Mexico
Why not a single 6 Year term ?
Is there not precedent in other democracies that argues for a single six-year term rather than multiple (2 or more ) shorter terms ? There is no concern about re-election, there is enough time for the elected official to produce results from their particular point of view, etc.
I recognize that our neighbor Mexico has at times shown this not to be effective, but anything that reduces the amount of money and energy spent on relection would be a benefit to the country and to the democratic process.
Howard Robinson of Marietta, Ga
Do you believe that President Clinton will have any major stumbling blocks this go round? He surrived all the criticizm about land deals, etc last four years and was reelected anyway.
Bevin Chu of Los Angeles CA
Why not one term instead of three?
You talk about giving "deserving" elected chief executives a third term because of the lame duck sydrome. How about having them serve one term? That would cure the lame duck syndrome just as well or better.
Jerry Duff of Scottsdale, Arizona
Vice Presidents aren't "Lame Ducks"
President Clinton and Vice President Gore seem to be a unique executive team. They have a good relationship and very similar policy goals in many areas. In fact, Gore has played a much more active role than almost any other vice president in the U.S.
What would happen if they agreed on and planned for Clinton's early retirement around February of 1999. This could have four possible advantages:
- (1) Because Gore would inherit less than two years of Clinton's term, Gore could run for re-election two more times.
- (2) This could allow the Democratic Party to nominate an incumbant for president in the 2000 election and most likely avoid a tough internal party fight. This should give the Democrats a strategic advantage in the 2000 election and potentially the 2004 election as well.
- (3) It would allow Clinton to avoid the lame-duck syndrom depending on how they announced the plan.
- (4) Just the uncertainty created by suggesting (via trial balloons) such an idea should have some preservative effect towards Clinton's presidential power, not to mention Gore's behind the scenes policy negotiations.
Edward L. Bryant of Memphis, TN
During the 1992 Presidential Campaign, the Democrats made continual references to the 12 years of Reagan/Bush, as though the Bush administration was a mere extension of the Reagan years. In the year 2000, assuming that V.P. Gore runs for the presidency and is the Democrat's candidtae for the November election, how will Clinton's second term governing agenda reflect the Dem's desire to retain the Whitehouse? Or will it? In light of the January Atlantic Monthly article, "Running Scared," what are journalists looking at as the issues that may impact the Democrats ability to remain in office at 1600 Penn Ave.?