A few immodest proposals

Burt Prelutsky
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Posted: Jan 28, 2006 12:05 AM
Because the entire process of appointing Supreme Court justices has become so politicized, many people would like to see the job description changed to include term limits. They seem to think that things would get better if, instead of lifetime sinecures, the justices would be limited to, say, 10 or 12 year appointments. Frankly, I’m of two minds on the subject. It all depends on whom we’re talking about. I’m certainly in no hurry to give Scalia and Thomas the boot, whereas in the case of Souter and Ginsburg, I’d gladly help them pack and drive them to the airport.

There’s another radical notion floating around these days. It seems the Democrats think it would be a swell idea to impeach President Bush. They seem to think he’s been over-zealous in waging the war on terrorism. I disagree with them. As I see it, if they’re wrong, we could all be killed by Islamic fanatics; if Bush is wrong, somebody in the F.B.I. might discover I just checked Somerset Maugham’s “Theatre” out of the public library.

I don’t happen to believe the president has broken any laws. It’s also my belief that his enemies would be just as willing to impeach him for jay-walking or splitting an infinitive if they could pull it off. I understand. That’s politics. The thing I can’t figure out about this plan of theirs is whether they are totally unaware of the rules of succession as spelled out in article two of the Constitution or if they really like Dick Cheney as much as I do.

Although I am undecided about term limits when it comes to federal judges, it’s a whole other matter when it comes to senators. And forget term limits, I’d do away with them entirely. What purpose do they serve? What do those hundred buffoons do that couldn’t be handled just as ineptly by that crowd of stiffs in the House?

When our forefathers were setting things up, they sought a way to balance things off so that the smaller states wouldn’t be totally overwhelmed by those states with much greater populations. But, let’s face it, it’s a notion whose time has come and gone. Between them, Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming, have about as many people as Kentucky, but they have 12 senators, while Kentucky only has two. And Kentucky has only about a tenth the population of California. Does that seem fair? It sounds downright un-American to me.

Besides, if we got rid of all that senatorial deadwood, we’d save a bloody fortune. I’m not just talking about their salaries and pensions, either. Every single one of them, even those who complain the most about the pork in the federal budget, controls a virtual fiefdom that would have made an old French nobleman drool with envy. Ted Kennedy, alone, has more courtiers and assorted flunkeys waiting on him than Louis XVI ever dreamed of; and as with Louis, it’s the poor taxpayers who are footing the bill.

Before dismissing my idea out of hand, pause just a moment and picture life without Charles Schumer, Robert Byrd, Richard Durbin, Harry Reid, Patrick Leahy, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the mere thought of a world in which John Kerry would be just another aging gigolo is enough to make me swoon.

I realize that along with the absolute dregs of humanity I just listed, I’d be eliminating employment for a handful of decent conservatives. But that’s okay. I can live with it. I say the fewer politicians of any political stripe, the better.

A bright fellow named Paul Rinderle wrote to me recently, suggesting that the moral arc of a Washington career could be divided into four parts: idealism, pragmatism, ambition and, ultimately, corruption.

I wrote back to say that, by and large, I agreed with his analysis. I just felt it was a shame that the typical politician went through all four stages in a single afternoon.