Trashed, abolished, deleted, repealed and out of here

It's a new year and all, but why is everyone in such a hurry to jettison the past?

Published January 6, 2006 7:35PM (EST)

Maybe it's just the start of the new year, but folks sure are doing a lot of that "out with the old, in with the new" thing -- and we're not just talking about what the Republicans may be fixing to do to poor old Tom DeLay. Everywhere we turn, it seems that there's somebody trying to jettison something or other of old.

In an Op-Ed piece that appeared in the New York Times Thursday, Williams College professors James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn argue that it's time to toss out the 22nd Amendment. That's the one that limits presidents to two terms, and you win a copy of the U.S. Constitution autographed by Vice President Dick Cheney if you knew that before we told you. Burns and Dunn -- who are a little like Brooks & Dunn, only without the facial hair and cowboy hats -- suggest that we'd be better off if the president could keep running for reelection again and again, not so much because they want George W. Bush around for four or eight or 16 more years, but because second-term presidents might do a better job if they had to think a little about the electoral consequences of their actions.

"While political commentators analyze every twist in White House politics, while citizens follow dramatic stories of leaks, investigations and indictments, the one person who does not have to care is George W. Bush," they write. "In a sense, he has transcended the risks and rewards of American politics. He will not run again for office. The voters will not be able to thank him -- or dump him."

What folks are dumping is the penny, and Gregory Mankiw thinks it's time for the U.S. government to do the same. In a piece that appeared this week in the Wall Street Journal and on the American Enterprise Institute Web site, the former chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors says he'd vote this year to eliminate the penny from our currency. "The purpose of the monetary system is to facilitate exchange, but I have to acknowledge that the penny no longer serves that purpose," Mankiw writes. "When people start leaving a monetary unit at the cash register for the next customer, the unit is too small to be useful."

No one could accuse the sprawling Department of Homeland Security of being too small to be useful, but Harry Reid would like to bid farewell to its leader. The Senate minority leader said this week that it's time for Michael Chertoff to resign. Reid, who represents Nevada in the Senate, is peeved that DHS dropped Las Vegas from a list of high-risk terror targets eligible for special homeland security grants. "Anyone who can't see that Las Vegas is a high-risk area doesn't deserve to serve in a position like that," Reid said of Chertoff. "We had more visitors on New Year's Eve than they had in Times Square, and we're not a high-risk area? For heaven's sakes." For good measure, Reid added that Chertoff did "a lousy job on Katrina," too.

And speaking of lousy jobs, did any War Room readers witness the slew of missed kicks in this week's triple-overtime Orange Bowl game? Our colleague King Kaufman did, and he says it's time to eliminate placekicking from football. Maybe that's asking too much, but Kaufman wonders: "If we can't eradicate placekicking -- just as we can't eradicate poverty, war and injustice, which are almost as bad -- can we at least get rid of it in overtime?"

Funny, but we could swear that we heard God say exactly the same thing about Ariel Sharon.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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