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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 19, 2012/ 5 Kislev, 5773

Incumbents forever

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1982, John Kerry assured the voters of Massachusetts that he wasn't seeking the position as a mere "stepping-stone" to higher office. But just one year into his four-year term, he announced his candidacy for the US Senate seat that Paul Tsongas was vacating because of illness.

Few people held Kerry's broken commitment against him. In part that was because nobody had believed it in the first place (all candidates for lieutenant governor seek the position as a stepping-stone). But it was also because everyone knew what Kerry knew: If he passed up the chance to run for the position Tsongas was relinquishing, it might be years before it opened up again. So Kerry jumped into the Senate race and won. Sure enough, the seat has been occupied ever since.

For nearly 28 years Kerry has been a senator, and in all that time no Massachusetts Democrat has ever seriously challenged him in a primary. (He faced token opposition from a little-known Gloucester lawyer in 2008). Yet once speculation began that President Obama might name Kerry to a Cabinet post, three Democratic congressmen — Edward Markey, Michael Capuano, and Stephen Lynch — quickly let it be known that they were interested in taking his place, raising the likelihood of a knock-down primary.

A Senate bid by any of them would undoubtedly trigger in turn a lively primary fight for the House seat (or seats) being vacated. Otherwise, none is likely to face more than weak opposition for his party's renomination — especially not from incumbents lower down on the food chain, hoping someday to move up. The last time a member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation lost a primary battle was 20 years ago, when Marty Meehan of Lowell ousted Concord's Chet Atkins. Before that it hadn't happened since 1970.

What's true of congressional incumbents is just as true of the mayoral variety.

A slew of Boston Democrats is reportedly poised to run for the city's top job next year — but only if five-term incumbent Thomas Menino bows out. The fact that the mayor suffers from multiple ailments, that he is now hospitalized "indefinitely," that he hasn't set foot in City Hall for over a month — none of that changes political reality: As long as he chooses to be mayor of Boston, the job is his to keep.

When former Mayor Ray Flynn resigned to become US ambassador to the Vatican in 1993, a vigorous free-for-all to choose his successor featured some of the most able figures in Boston life. That was a healthy, competitive contest. There won't be another one like it until Menino departs. Until then, most mayoral hopefuls will simply bide their time. Menino will go through the motions of running for re-election, brushing past a quadrennial opponent that everyone knows doesn't have a chance. Give a Boston mayor the boot? Voters haven't done it since they expelled James Michael Curley, a convicted felon, in 1949.

Ours isn't the only part of the country where incumbency-worship runs deep. West Virginia sent Robert Byrd to the US Senate for 51 years, and Daniel Inouye has represented Hawaii in Congress since it became a state in 1959. Charleston, S.C., has had the same mayor since 1975. No matter how unpopular Congress is said to be, more than 90 percent of House members seeking re-election generally keep their seats; in that respect Nov. 6 was absolutely typical.

Yet American politicians didn't always assume that incumbency was meant to be for life. Most of Kerry's Senate predecessors served one or two terms and moved on; the endless reigns of senators like Ted Kennedy (46 years) and Henry Cabot Lodge (31 years) were historical anomalies. Yes, there is always the possibility of electing someone so exceptional that his talents and experience make him irreplaceable. But the odds are overwhelmingly against it. Far better for officials to come and go, serving a spell in government, then heading back to real life.

"Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people," Connecticut's Roger Sherman argued during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. "By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents."

George Washington could have been president for life, but he voluntarily stepped down after two terms. He could be trusted with power precisely because he could let it go. Politicians today can't bear the thought of giving up the authority with which we cloak them. And we, to our discredit, are rarely prepared to take it away.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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