As Hotline, the Washington Post and others are reporting, Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison will not step down and will instead serve out her term through 2012. Citing "President Obama's victory on health care legislation" and not her thumping at the hands of Rick Perry in the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary, Hutchison has reversed course on her pledge last fall to resign. If that broken vow to leave the Senate sounds familiar, it should. Kay Bailey Hutchison is just one the many Republican revolutionaries of 1994 who ignored their promise on term limits.
On Wednesday, Hutchison portrayed her political opportunism as the defense of political principle:
"It is clear to me that the stakes in our nation's capitol have never been higher," said Hutchison at a press conference announcing her decision. "President Obama's victory on health care legislation has emboldened those who want an even bigger and more intrusive federal government."
Of course, the three-term Senator long ago broke her two-term pledge.
Hutchison is just one of the GOP class of 1994 who is in breach of their Contract with America. In the summer of 2005, Hutchison announced she would run for a third Senate term rather than challenge Republican incumbent Rick Perry in the race for Governor. But on election night in 1994, Hutchison made a commitment to term limits:
"I've always said that I would serve no more than two full terms. This may be my last term, or I could run for one more. But no more after that. I firmly believe in term limitations and I plan to adhere to that."
As it turns out, not so much.
According to USA Today, Senator Hutchison in 2006 said "she still supports term limits but would not bind herself unless senators from other states also left after two terms."
To cap a career of term limit hypocrisy, Hutchison last year joined Jim Demint (R-SC), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) in sponsoring a constitutional amendment which would restrict United States Senators to two, six-year terms. Defending the fraud perpetrated by Hutchison and the likes of Zach Wamp (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and so many other Republican stalwarts, Demint also lauded their betrayal as principled:
"I want to be clear: demanding that reformers adopt self-imposed term limits is a recipe for self-defeat on this issue. We lost the battle for term limits after the 1994 Republican Contract with America because we forced our best advocates for reform to go home, while the big-spending career politicians waited them out. We must have term limits for all or term limits will never succeed. Only when we apply the same rules to all will we be able to enact vital bipartisan reforms."
Sadly for Demint, his "best advocates" didn't go home. Just ask Kay Bailey Hutchison.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)