Football coaches, house guests, and athletes aren’t the only ones that overstay their welcome. Elvis never leaves the building where politicians are concerned. I thought of “the King of Rock and Roll” and Al Dvorin‘s famous quote on news that the “Elvis” monkey had been discovered in southeast Asia.
The Elvis coiffed simian is not new to the people of Myanmar where it lives. But according to the World Wildlife Fund, it’s one of 208 new species in the world, including a psychedelic gecko.
Arizona, for instance, is one of fifteen states with term limits. Unfortunately, once politicians get a taste of power, they don’t leave. They just find ‘another room’ to do their shtick. Paraphrasing Michael Corleone, “Just when we thought they were out…they pull themselves back in.”
Failing to rein in pols.
Once upon a time, the states even tried to rein in their Congressional career politicians, too. But that gambit went down in flames in US Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 US 779 (1995).
In 1992, Arkansas voters passed an amendment to the state constitution, to wit, “The people of Arkansas find and declare that elected officials who remain in office too long become preoccupied with reelection and ignore their duties as representatives of the people. Entrenched incumbency has reduced voter participation and has led to an electoral system that is less free, less competitive, and less representative than the system established by the Founding Fathers. Therefore, the people of Arkansas, exercising their reserved powers, herein limit the terms of the elected officials.”
But the U.S. Supreme Court said that the Tenth Amendment did not provide a reserved power that allowed States to adopt Congressional qualifications in addition to those enumerated in the Constitution.
Notwithstanding Congressional unpopularity and the bleak chances of resurrecting term limits last tried in the 1990’s, pundits and voters on both sides keep wringing their hands over it. Will Congress ever self-impose term limits? Hah! The latest regurgitation was last month in USA Today by Columnists Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel at “Column: After debt deal failure, let’s try term limits.”
But like I blogged at “Donkeys, D.A.s and constitutionally permissible diaper-changes,” without term limits, drunk with narcissism and power, politicians will never leave – – – unless it’s feet first.
The ultimate embodiment, Robert Byrd, served 56 years, 320 days of combined service in the House and Senate, earning him the dubious distinction of being the longest-serving senator and the longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress. But then in Byrd’s case, it may have taken over half a century for him to finally come around from his early views on race.  Still, that’s a steep price to pay to finally hear Elvis croon “Change of Habit.”
 Although he later found absolution from the NAACP; regretted his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act; and renounced his earlier segregationist views, Byrd is also remembered for a letter he wrote to Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo where he objected to the presence of Black volunteers at the Battle of the Bulge: “I am a typical American, a southerner and 27 years of age. . . . I am loyal to my country and know but reverence to her flag. BUT I shall never submit to fight beneath that banner with a negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory tramped in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degrade by race mongrels, a throw back to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” From Buckley, Gail, American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm. New York: Random House, 2001, at page 323. Cited by Randall Kennedy in The Persistence Of The Color Line. New York: Pantheon Books, 2011, and also noting that despite Byrd’s chest-pounding, he never served in WWII.