It is instructive to compare and contrast two editorials that appeared in The New York Times over the past few months. The first, from September of last year, argued that abolishing term limits was part of the larger cause of democracy.

This was, of course, when popular mayor Michael Bloomberg was pushing for a change in the term limits law that would allow him to serve for a third term.

Then, Bloomberg’s hometown paper had this to say:

"The bedrock of American democracy is the voters’ right to choose. Though well intentioned…term limits law severely limits that right, which is why this page has opposed term limits from the outset."

The paper’s editors went on to say that particularly when their economy’s under great stress, voters have "the right to decide for themselves " whether an effective and popular leader should stay in office.

Move to Venezuela, however, and the Times applies a very different lens. There, democracy is threatened by the abolition of term limits. In an editorial just before Venezuelans voted on lifting their term-limits law, the same newspaper that loved doing away with term limits in New York, suddenly found some term limits laws to love.

The New York Times urged Venezuelans to vote no. Voters, in what The Times has described as a "battered democracy" "should not yield" wrote the editors. "Mr. Chávez needs to be reminded that Venezuelans believe in their democracy and cherish their right to say no."

Love em or loathe em, when it comes to term limits and the New York Times, it all depends on who you are, and what you do. Can anyone say, "All the hypocrisy that’s fit to print?"

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.

2 Comments