Coming to ‘terms’ with congressional abuses

by Jim Longworth

A week after Rep. Mark Foley resigned, political fallout and finger-pointing have become our national pastime. Speaker Hastert and others have come under fire for what they knew of Foley’s offenses, and when they knew it.

We also now know that the FBI was aware of Foley’s sexual e-mails to pages as far back as July, but decided not to take any action.

Clearly, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Foley is to blame for his sick transgressions.

The FBI is to blame for acting too slowly.

And the GOP leadership is to blame for allowing Foley to stay on the job.

But let’s not forget the Democrats who are believed to have leaked the emails just in time to disrupt the November election. Anyone who sits on information like this for political purposes is putting congressional pages at risk the same as if they wrote the sexual e-mails themselves.

Many in Congress and the media are calling for an end to the page system which has introduced thousands of young people to civics in action for over a century. But that would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Would you fire every waitress in America just because a few stupid men made lewd advances to them? Instead, I recommend a simple solution with just two words: term limits.

Congress was originally formed as a part-time citizen legislature. None of the founding fathers envisioned serving for the remainder of their lives. Incumbency breeds corruption and arrogance, and, in this case, it was incumbents who directly or indirectly shielded and enabled Foley.

US Senators are elected every six years, while Congressmen must run every two years. What we need is a new law that limits both to a single six-year term.

Term limits would provide America with a true system of checks and balances that could prevent the kinds of behavior that is fueled by greed and power.

You can point fingers of blame all you want, but it’s time we came to “terms” with the real problem.

Jim Longworth is host of “Triad Today” which can be seen Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m. on MY45 (cable channel 7), and Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on UPN 48 (cable channel 15).