Paul Jacob

The advisory contended that Richard Cole's efforts to weaken the term limits law were not done on behalf of Blue Cross. (For more information on Cole, see four paragraphs ago.) Yet as he led the assault on term limits, Cole had repeatedly identified himself by his Blue Cross title, "Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications"--including in signed columns attacking term limits. If Cole had been faking his relationship with Blue Cross during all the time in which he was trying to kill term limits, or inappropriately exploiting that relationship, you'd think Blue Cross would have blown its lid at Cole, not advocates of term limits. But I am rehearsing mere facts and logic here.

There is a lot of competition in the dumb-statement category. The professors have put in a good showing too, for example.

Calvin College political science professor Jim Penning says that the anti-term limit brigade in Michigan should pray for a good scandal. Politicians and lobbyists may spend their waking hours plotting against the term limits law, but as the professor notes, the plotting just isn’t going so well.

"It will be very difficult," he says. "Voters need to see the downside of term limits before they’re willing to change....We just got a budget compromise, so government looks like it’s running pretty smoothly." The horror.

But career politicians shouldn’t lose hope. "A major scandal might do it," says the scholarly professor.

Of course, Michigan voters don't share the disdain for term limits that obtains among many lobbyists and politicians. In a 2002 survey of 400 likely voters, conducted by Basswood Research, most respondents were supportive. In 1992, the initiative setting limits of six years in the House and eight in the Senate passed with 59 percent of the vote. By 2002, 74 percent said they would vote for it if given the chance.

But the sad truth is that all too many "leaders" in both government and business couldn't care less about public support for greasing the wheels of democracy, as term limits undeniably do. After all, their own personal convenience is at stake.

What are they supposed to be, statesmen? Heh.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.