Sunday, September 11, 2005

Illinois GOP Hypocrisy

The SJ-R's Doug Finke today rightly dumps on the Illinois GOP and it's hypocracy on term limits:
U.S. Rep. JOHN SHIMKUS, R-Collinsville, has decided that term limits aren’t such a good idea after all and will violate his pledge not to serve more than 12 years. Gee, what a surprise.

For years, Republicans in this state have been hypocrites about term limits. Remember JERRY WELLER, the congressman from Morris? He signed the famous “Contract With America,” the 1994 GOP claptrap that endorsed 12-year term limits for congressmen. A vote on the issue failed, of course, and Mr. Weller - endorsement of term limits notwithstanding - is expected to run for re-election in 2006, trying to return for years 13 and 14.

U.S. Rep. TIM JOHNSON, R-Urbana, said he would serve only six years in the House, if elected. He didn’t even finish one term before deciding that his term-limit pledge was a “good faith mistake.”

(RAY LaHOOD of Peoria isn’t the same as Weller and Johnson. He never signed the Contract With America, nor did he pledge to limit his service. Still, he did vote for the 12-year term limit amendment, which indicates he saw some value in supporting the idea. He, too, will be running for years 13 and 14 in 2006.)

Last week, Shimkus finally saw how the GOP does things in this state, and, in language eerily like Johnson’s, declared that his pledge to serve only 12 years was a mistake. Closing in on a self-imposed retirement helps one see one’s mistakes.

Besides, the whole idea of term limits was to get rid of all of those long-serving Democrats clogging up Congress back in the 1990s. Who needs them now?
Term limits are a bad idea. Period. But once you've committed to it and then "change your mind", you're showing opportunistic bad character. You're just untrustworthy as hell and your word means nothing. The fact that these guys keep getting reelected demonstrates that politics does trump morality for these guys and their supporters. So the next time a hardcore GOPer tries to beat you over the head with their "I'm so morally superior" act, remind them what a bunch of liars they have in their midst.

It irks the hell out of me that theses guys get it both ways: they can garner votes initially with the term limits pledge and then use the incumbency to overcome any negative consequences that might be incurred by reneging on that same pledge. This does nothing but add to the publics cynicism toward politicians. It irks me even more that this is standard operating procedure for much of the modern Republican party.

UPDATE: It occurs to me how politically brilliant this tactic is. You can only gain votes by being FOR term limits going in. At the other end, you have nothing to lose by reneging. I mean, if you keep your word, you're out by default. If you "reconsider" you might lose reelection but still have a great chance of holding your seat. It seems like a calculated, and cynical, win-win situation for a politician.

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