I'm referring to Charlie Bass, R-NH. He's my congressman. Although he's a fellow Dartmouth alumnus and he is affiliated with enough moderate GOP groups to have a legitimate claim at being somewhat of an "independent", I've never been particularly fond of him. The fact that one of his senior staffers engaged in negative astroturfing to discourage supporters of Bass's opponent in political blogs surely didn't help, but I wasn't going to vote for him anyhow. Amongst his recent exploits was a comment comparing Vermont's Bernie Sanders to Hugo Chavez, and this gem of a have-it-both-ways quote:
Nobody's for staying the course . . . I don't want to see a single serviceman in Iraq, but we must stay until there's no threat of terrorist foes. WMUR, 17 Oct 2006
This morning I learned one more reason not to vote for Charlie Bass. He told us so.
Charlie Bass is a member of the congressional "Class of 1994". That means that he was elected in the GOP landslide of that year's mid-term elections, riding on the coattails of Newt Gingrich's Contract With America, a key portion of which was backing for the "Citizen Legislature Act" which would have established a six term limit for congressmen. Charlie Bass was a signatory of that contract. It's twelve years later, and congressional terms are two years. Do the math. Charlie's contract has expired.
And here's a list (via Kos) of other hypocrites of the class of 1994 who supported the contract but are standing for re-election again this year: Steve Chabot, OH-01; Tom Davis, VA-1; Mark Foley, FL-16; Rodney Frelinghuysen, NJ-11; Gil Gutknecht, MN-01; Doc Hastings, WA-04; J.D. Hayworth, AZ-08; John Hostettler, IN-09; Walter Jones, NC-03; Sue Kelly, NY-19; Ray LaHood, IL-18; Tom Latham, IA-04; Steven LaTourette, OH-14; Sue Myrick, NC-09; Robert Ney, OH-18; Charlie Norwood, GA-09; George Radanovich, CA-19; John Shadegg, AZ-03; Mac Thornberry, TX-13; Todd Tiahrt, KS-04; Dave Weldon, FL-15; Jerry Weller, IL-11; Ed Whitfield, KY-01; Roger Wicker, MS-01; Mike DeWine, OH Senate; Jon Kyl, AZ Senate; Rick Santorum, PA Senate; Olympia Snowe, ME Senate; Craig Thomas, WY Senate.
Their contracts have expired, too. I say throw them out. Throw them all out out on their Basses.
Whether you agree or not, remember to vote.
Update: I should clarify something. I'm not in favor of mandatory congressional term limits, and I never was. I believe they are counter to the intentions of the founders, and to the interests of democracy and effective government. I am in favor, however, of keeping promises. Or if circumstances change such that promises can't or shouldn't be kept, then I am in favor of full disclosure and full discussion of the reasons why -- and that includes discussion of whether the promises were made legitimately with the intention of keeping them in the first place, or were made merely as an electoral ploy.
1. Scott Gentzen11/07/2006 12:46:09 PM
The promise was to bring the legislation to create term limits, not to leave after 12 years.
It didn't make it out of the House because most of the Democrats voted against it. They proposed the bill, it was voted down, I would think that means the promise is completed.
Is it really hypocritical to stick around if you voted for the legislation but it didn't pass? Sounds like the will of the people is for them to stick around if they can continue to get re-elected, no?
Is it hypocritical or just self-serving for Democrats to expect a Republican not to run because of a term limit proposal that wasn't enacted? What other dead bills out there should legislators be held to because just because they supported it? That doesn't make sense.
On the subject of term limits, I'm on the fence. In Virginia, the governor's limited to two terms (four years each). It's good from being relatively easy to throw a bum out, but it's not so good when you have a good one in there. Also, we tend to see things get enacted but on a gradual schedule that ends sometime into the next guy's term...using that term limit as a way to not actually have to deal with the hard part.
2. Richard Schwartz11/07/2006 04:04:58 PM
@1 Scott: Yes, it was voted down. Yes, most Democrats voted it down. I didn't favor it, and wouldn't now. If the proponents of the Citizen Legistlature Act had been advancing it as a matter of principle, not as a matter of politics, then I would expect them to adhere to the principle regardless of whether it passed or else be called hypocrites. On the other hand, if it was just a matter of politics in 1994 (i.e., there were lots of entrenched Democrat incumbents in districts that might not be "safe" for newcomer Democrat) then fine -- nobody's being hypocritical today, because the politics are different today and there are probably at least as many long-term Republicans who are in that situation now. But let's call it out for what it was. But if that's the case, they were clearly being hypocritical back in 1994, because the whole contract was being justified as being based on principles and statesmanship, not politics. So one way or another, either now or then, there's hypocricy to call out -- and that's what I'm doing.
3. Duffbert11/07/2006 05:39:52 PM
I think you can safely take Foley off your list... :)
4. Scott Gentzen11/07/2006 09:49:31 PM
I think I understand. I still disagree but I think I get what you're saying.
My thing is that I don't think any politicians elected above the local level do anything for purely idealistic reasons anymore. There's always some angle being played for an election, or they're working on their party dues or whatever.
It would be nice to see someone give it up like that on principle but I don't think I'll ever see it happen.
5. Devin Olson11/08/2006 08:09:19 AM
Hey there my Richard.
I've posted my initial thoughts on the election results on my blog.
I'd love to hear your comments.