The 'President for life' conspiracy theory

A Democratic congressman has called for the repeal of the 22nd amendment, which some argue incorrectly, would make Obama 'President for life'.

by COMMENTATOR FACT CHECK on 15 January 2013 15:51

Various outlets have been reporting, in true conspiracy style, that a Democratic Congressman is seeking to cement Barack Obama as the United States' 'President for life'.

Indeed at first viewing, it appears that New York Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano's introduction of a bill in Congress last Friday may be a smoking gun. It calls after all, for the repeal of the 22nd Amendment which ensures presidential term limits.

The reality is though, that Serrano has introduced the same bill every two years since 1997, regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats were in control of the White House.

Even if Serrano's bill made it out of committee, which it never has, it would not make Obama 'President for Life' but instead would allow the president to run for re-election for third, fourth, fifth, six etc terms. This is scarcely the same as the dictatorship scenario that many would have you believe Serrano is involved in.

Democratic Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer also repeatedly proposed repealing the 22nd Amendment during both the Clinton and Bush administrations and current Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sponsored a bill to repeal the amendment in 1995.

The 22nd Amendment was passed by Congress in 1947 and ratified by 41 states by 1951. The last president before Roosevelt to prepare for a campaign for a third term was Woodrow Wilson, who pulled out of the 1920 nominating race to avoid deadlocking the Democratic convention in San Francisco.

The reality in this scenario is simply that Serrano has a life-long ambition to allow the president a more parliamentary position in being able to run again, and again, and again. And you know what? If the public want it - then why should the choice be limited to two terms anyway? 

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