Switch in Time Saves Another Term?

After Senator Specter's party switch today, which was clearly based almost entirely on concerns for his own career, I've been wondering which would be better: term limits or an age cap for senators? There is clearly a problem with people in the Senate that are too old; 25 senators are over age 70, and Specter, at age 79, clearly needs to be put out to pasture. If we can have a retirement age for pilots, we can have one for senators. Maybe peg it to the Social Security retirement age; that would sure get jacked up quickly.

On the other hand, someone like Joe Biden, who was in the Senate for 35 years beginning at age 30, would still serve for a ridiculously long time before getting the boot under an age cap. Ted Stevens would fit here, too. So maybe term limits would be better; I would allow no more than 3 terms.

As for Specter, he acknowledged the fact that the upcoming election, and his poor standing in the polls, affected his thinking:
"I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls ... and have found that the prospects for winning the Republican primary are bleak," Specter said.
Eight years ago, Specter was quite unhappy that another GOP Senator, Jim Jeffords, left the party. But again, Specter was thinking about his career; he lost a committee chairmanship because of the switch.

I would like to see Democrats in Pennsylvania reject this attempt at party carpetbagging (a primary opponent could bring this up), but they probably won't, and Republicans would probably do the same if the opposite occurred. The best outcome, though, would be if Specter calculated incorrectly, and lost to a Republican in 2010. I would laugh long and hard about that.

1 comment :

  1. Term limits, term limits, a thousand times term limits. The problem isn't just people who are clearly way too old to represent the people competently (see: series of tubes) but that they become way too entrenched and out of touch with their constituents. (As my dad likes to say, at some point Bob Dole stopped being from Kansas; he was just from Washington.) And their ridiculous re-election rate shows that people just won't stop voting for a guy who's already in the Senate unless he does something completely egregious.