TWO perspectives on Congress and the term limits...

salmagundi

April 11, 1995

TWO perspectives on Congress and the term limits debate:

"The House of Representatives, in some respects, I think, is the most peculiar assemblage in the world, and only a man who has had long experience there can fully know its idiosyncrasies. It is true we engage in fierce combat, we are often intense partisans, sometimes we are unfair, not infrequently unjust, brutal at times, and yet I venture to say that, taken as a whole, the House is sound at heart; nowhere else will you find such a ready appreciation of merit and character, in few gatherings of equal size is there so little jealousy and envy.

"The House must be considerate of the feelings of its Members; there is a certain courtesy that has to be observed; a man may be voted a bore or shunned as a pest, and yet he must be accorded the rights to which he is entitled by virtue of being a representative of the people. On the other hand, a man may be universally popular, a good fellow, amusing and yet with these engaging qualities never get far. The men who have led the House, whose names have become a splendid tradition to their successors, have gained prominence not through luck or by mere accident. They have had ability, at least in some degree; but more than that, they have had character."

-- Rep. Joseph G. Cannon, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1903-1911.

* * *

LAST JUNE 6th I stood with [Sen.] Bob Dole [R-Kans.], [Rep.] Sonny Montgomery [D-Miss.] and [Rep.] Sam Gibbons [D-Fla.] at Normandy. I looked at some of the names on those crosses -- young men buried over a thousand miles from home -- and I saw a cross with the words, 'Here Lies in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known But to God,' and you realized he died in the cause of freedom. And today you should realize that the right to choose who will represent you in Congress is a fundamental freedom. I can never vote to diminish that freedom -- and I hope you can't, too.

"I speak for Sam Gibbons, [Rep.] Bob Stump [R-Ariz.], [Rep.] John Dingell [D-Mich.], Sonny Montgomery and, yes, Bob Dole. Fifty years ago our country needed us, and we came running. I think our country still needs us. Why do you want to stop us from running? Why do you want to drive experience into obscurity?"

-- Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., in debate on term limits last month.

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