Feb
15
2009

One Paper — Three Views on Term Limits

The author of an upcoming "people's history of the Bolivarian Revolution entitled We Created Him," George Ciccariello-Maher tells (CounterPunch, 2/15/09) an eerily "familiar" tale of one unnamed political leader who, after being "in power for nearly eight years,"

no longer feels the need to comfort his opponents, and his discourse radicalizes as his view of term limits shifts. Dismissing his opposition as rigid "dogmatists," the leader now insists on the need to change course flexibly to meet circumstances. True and sustained change, he argues, requires the continuity of his successful leadership….

Not without controversy, then, was the decision of the region's largest newspaper–aligned politically with the leader–to wade into these conflictive waters with the following declaration: …"The bedrock ofâ┚¬Ã‚¦ democracy is the voters' right to choose. Though well intentionedâ┚¬Ã‚¦ the term limits law severely limits that right, which is why this page has opposed term limits from the outsetâ┚¬Ã‚¦ Term limits are…profoundly undemocratic, arbitrarily denying voters the ability to choose between good politicians and bad."

While the paper had previously insisted that any change to term limits come through popular referendum, it now reverses this view, taking the position that for reasons of political expediency, a simple vote in the small executive council will do.

While consumers of corporate U.S. media may recognize this as the common narrative against current official U.S. enemy Hugo Chávez, Ciccariello-Maher lets us know that this land where "weak-kneed apologists parade about under the banner of free press" really "is none other than New York City, the leader none other than Michael Bloomberg, and the newspaper none other than the New York Times." Cautioning "patience: we haven't even gotten to the hypocrisy part yet," Ciccariello-Maher then goes on to note how

the New York Times has never been bashful about the crush it has on this tale of hypocrisyâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s third character: the narco-terrorist president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe. Uribe is currently engaged in an effort to change the Colombian constitution for a second time to allow his own re-election, doing so not through popular plebiscite, but rather indirect legislative vote. But not that you would know this from reading the press.

Read the current issue of FAIR's magazine Extra!: "FAIR Study: Human Rights Coverage Serving Washington's Needs: FAIR Finds Editors Downplaying Colombia's Abuses, Amplifying Venezuela's" (2/09) by Steve Rendall, Daniel Ward & Tess Hall