Category Archives: political folk tales

Knock on Wood: The Second Term Curse

When you repeat something over and over does it become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Is it true that you should not ask for what you don’t want because you might get it? Will positive things come to those who think positive thoughts and, conversely, will negative thoughts bring calumny down on your head?  I don’t know about these things. Sometimes they seem to be borne out by events and sometimes not. But why tempt fate if you can help it I always say.

On this Sunday, “politics day” was all about the inauguration. Actually I found the coverage on CNN and on Meet the Press quite enjoyable. It was like an Obama love fest and I think it was about time. It is touching to see how emotional people are about this historical inauguration. It was refreshing to not have to listen to Republicans repeat their spending cuts refrain all day long. CNN included lots of interesting information about past inaugurations. What was most refreshing of all was to hear unscripted and heartfelt conversations about the things people hope will be happening in the next four years. There was also a lot of discussion about what designer Michelle will wear tomorrow and about Michelle’s toned arms, and her new bangs. Something for everyone.

But then the reporters and pundits get off on these little bits of insider political superstition and they just drive me nuts. I still think it is very wrong that conventional wisdom says that a president has only 100 days in the first term and about a week in the second term to accomplish all of the nation’s business. Are they nuts?  All right that might be a slight exaggeration, but they supposedly only get maybe four years of effective service in a two term presidency. It costs billions for a president to get elected and billions more to get re-elected and yet a president can only expect to pass useful laws that answer the needs of the people during half of his/her time in office? If that is true it definitely needs to change. We are not getting our money’s worth.

Then we get to “the second term curse”. Apparently some presidents have had really bad luck in their second terms, like Katrina for GW Bush, and Clinton’s extra-marital activity and near impeachment. I wish they would stop telling us about this nonsense. Are they just trying to show off their intimate knowledge of presidential lore? To write off a president’s second term before it even begins is just depressing. I’m sure there are many presidents who experience no such curse in their second term. But just in case I’m going to complete one of those gestures that wards off evil. I don’t really want to spit so I guess I will knock on wood. I am also going to predict that we will make an unprecedented number of positive accomplishments over the next four years. Yay, us!