Eight is Enough


“How long does the president get to be the president?”  Daniel and I were eating at Rosati’s, splitting a double dough cheese and sausage pizza on the eve of the inaugural.

“That depends,” I said.  “A president can stay in office up to ten years.”  Daniel stopped eating and shook his head.

“But Franklin Roosevelt was president longer than that,” he said.  Daniel has a presidential placemat at home.  Often we talk about presidents, mostly how they died (James Polk died of cholera, by the way).

“They changed the law after he was president,” I explained.  “You used to be able to be president as long as people would keep electing you, but now it’s only up to ten years.”  Daniel shook his head again.

“But they get elected for four years,” he complained.  “Four times two is eight, not ten.”

I said, “In theory, if a president leaves office, his vice president can finish his term.  And then he can be elected up to two more times for a total of ten years.”

“They could have just changed it so presidents are elected for five years,” Daniel said after a bit of thought.  “Then it would work out.”  I thought about that for a moment and shook my head.

“I think eight years is enough,” I replied.

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