Caracas on the Hudson
February 16th, 2009

So what’s the difference between a good term-limits law and a bad term-limits law? Ask the people who run the Times editorial page.

Last fall, as Michael Bloomberg ramped up his successful drive to change New York City’s law to give him a third term, the paper of record went on the record saying, “Term limits are seductive, promising relief from mediocre, self-perpetuating incumbents and gridlocked legislatures. They are also profoundly undemocratic.”

The paper then came back three weeks later to opine, “This page has always strongly opposed term limits, and we continue to oppose them.”

Well not quite always — or at least not everywhere. On Saturday the Times urged the voters of Venezuela (millions of whom, we are sure, read the editorial page every day) to keep term limits. Like Bloomberg, that country’s leader, Hugo Chvez, wanted to change the law so he could run for office again. The referendum which passed with about 54 percent of the vote, like the extension here, does not guarantee Chvez victory but it allows him to run again in 2013 — and beyond.

The editorial called on Venezuelans to reject changing their constitution to eliminate term limits — in other words to preserve the term limits the paper has “always opposed.” The editorial concluded, ” Mr. Chvez needs to be reminded that Venezuelans believe in their democracy.”

Given we didn’t even get a referendum, where does that leave us?

By on February 16, 2009, 5:28 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | 2 Comments »

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2 Responses to “Caracas on the Hudson”

  1. Daniel Millstone Says:
    February 16th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Good catch. Thanks! Very, very funny.

  2. Larry Littlefield Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Lots of people embarassed themselves on this issue. When term limits are permanently revoked, when the city’s public campaign financing is removed, when initiative and referendum is eliminated, hell, if elections are eventually eliminated, there is one editorial board I don’t want to hear a peep from. They are all in.

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