Thursday, February 7, 2008

Can Bill Clinton become our president again?

Whoever thinks Bill Clinton can’t be president again is sadly mistaken. I don’t mean a ‘de facto’ president when his wife Hillary is elected; I mean an honest to God actual president on his own. I can hear the gasps of Republicans, and some Democrats, everywhere; but what I say is really true as I shall explain.

A lot of people think a president can only have two terms but that is not the case. The basis of this thought is the belief that a Constitutional Amendment, (Amendment XXII ratified February 27, 1951), prevents a president from serving two terms, consecutive or not; this is also not true my friends.

The 22nd Amendment was passed in the aftermath of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election to an astonishing fourth term which defied the tradition, but not the law, that presidents should only have that office for two terms. This was not intended as a slap to FDR, it was an effort to return to the tradition and make the tradition a legal limitation.

When the 22nd Amendment was written, it was assumed that in order to become president, a person had to be “elected” to that position. We all know what assumptions do, “they make an ass of you and me”; and that certainly was the case in this instance. The scenario of a person unqualified to become an elected president because of this Constitutional prohibition, nevertheless attaining that office, was never contemplated. However, one may indeed become president in ways other than being elected to that office.

There are many examples in our history. Without going too far back, we may remember that Vice President Lyndon Johnson first became president upon President John Kennedy’s death and Gerald Ford became president upon the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Richard Nixon.; and neither Johnson nor Ford was “elected” to the presidency.

Now that I have your attention; let me explain. Here is the 22nd Amendment as it stands in our Constitution, in relevant part:

“Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. … " (
Emphasis added)

Since former president Bill Clinton was elected president twice, he cannot be elected president again, according to the 22nd Amendment. However, if Bill somehow became Vice President, during Hillary’s term or otherwise, the most unethical president in our history would have another shot at the oval office (a potential hazard to interns but an absolute catastrophe for the rest of us). The 22nd Amendment would not then apply because Bill was not 'elected' to the office of the presidency.

With the scruples the Clintons have, would you sell life insurance to Hillary if she is elected president and hubby somehow became Vice President?

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