Wednesday, September 6, 2006

"The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January"

So says Amendment XX, dated 1933, to the US Constitution. Wouldn't that be handy over here? The actual hour on the actual date at which each President expires is dictated by the Constitution. No messing around and briefing journalists to wrench the hands of the PM from the doorhandle of his office. It all happens with no debate at all.

The argument is often repeated that if Tony Blair announced a date for his departure, he would turn himself into a lame duck.

I have not often heard this obvious rubbish disputed.

Firstly, what is he now if he is not a lame duck? Take his recent announcement about helping families who are "at risk of producing" troublesome kids. In fact several NGO chiefs have broadly welcomed this proposal. However, it has been drowned out by derision and references to "eugenics" simply because it comes from Tony Blair. It is seen as a blatant attempt to detract attention from the debate over his "use by" date.

Secondly, the whole USA public and the entire world know when the US President will leave office. Yes, this does make the office holder something of a lame duck but you can also argue that much of the statesperson-like work by Presidents is done in the last year or so of office.

Also, look at Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. They were churning out presidnetial orders in their last few days of office like ice creams being handed out on a hot summer's day. Kerby Anderson comments:

President Clinton followed in the tradition of President Carter in putting out a rash of executive orders during his last few months in office. Just on Jimmy Carter's last day in office alone, the Federal Register (a daily summation of new rules for the executive branch) was three times its normal size. The regulations drafted by President Carter and numerous lame-duck regulators earned the nickname: midnight regulations. By the time all the dust settled, it was estimated that President Carter added about 24,500 pages of last-minute regulations. President Clinton surpassed that record with over 30,000 pages of new regulations in the last 90 days.

No comments:

Post a Comment