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View Full Version : Did Alan Moore know about the 22nd Amendment?


Little Nemo
05-21-2009, 12:47 AM
I watched Watchmen last week and the movie made the point that the 22nd Amendment had been repealed in order for Nixon to still be in office in the eighties. But as I recall, this point was never explictly mentioned in the comic book. We were just told Nixon was still President.

I wonder if Alan Moore figured it wasn't a detail worth mentioning or if it was a detail he was unaware of. Moore, after all, is English and there's no reason for him to be aware of the details of the United States Constitution. A lot of non-Americans are probably just aware that Franklin Roosevelt was elected four times and assume it's still possible.

So did Moore ever mention this issue? And for that matter, how many non-Americans here are aware that the American Presidency now has term limits?

MrDibble
05-21-2009, 04:14 AM
I'm pretty sure there was a passing reference - Moore does his research. Unfortunately, I don't have my copy on me, but both the annotated Watchmen (http://www.capnwacky.com/rj/watchmen/world.html) (see here - (http://www.capnwacky.com/rj/watchmen/chapter11.html) page 8, para. 11)and the Wiki (http://watchmen.wikia.com/wiki/Richard_M._Nixon) mention it, and they are both dealing with the book character, not the movie, in those links.

MrDibble
05-21-2009, 04:25 AM
...and to answer your other question - I am aware of the two-term limit, and was when I first read Watchmen.

yastobaal
05-21-2009, 04:34 AM
I'm English and in my late 20's and I knew about the 2 term limit for presidents before I read Watchmen. Partly because the USA's system of always knowing when the next election will be is very different from our general elections.

Galwegian
05-21-2009, 05:32 AM
Irish, mid-thirties, and have known about the two-term limit for as long as I can remember.

The US is probably unique in the amount of interest its politics generates overseas.

mobo85
05-21-2009, 05:39 AM
It's mentioned in the comic that Nixon had the 22nd Amendment revoked.

Little Nemo
05-21-2009, 11:44 AM
I'll admit I don't have a copy of Watchmen in front of me. But I recall commenting on this point when I first read it back in 1986 so I was pretty sure the repeal of the 22nd Amendment wasn't mentioned. However I could be wrong - if anyone has a copy handy please check and let me know where it was referenced.

I also think the 22nd itself was less known back in 1985-1986. Since then three Presidents have been prohibited from running for a third term due to it but back in the mid-eighties the only time it would have been an issue was 1960. (And then only for twenty minutes.)

Marley23
05-21-2009, 11:53 AM
I don't remember a reference to the amendment in the book. But I always thought the implication was that, after the U.S. won the Vietnam War with Dr. Manhattan's aid, Nixon was so popular that his supporters were able to get the amendment repealed. There was no Watergate scandal since The Comedian murdered Woodward and Bernstein, so with the U.S. firmly ahead in the Cold War, without Vietnam as a quagmire and no Watergate, it's more or less logical in that fictional world. Maybe I'm giving Moore too much credit but that's how I thought we were supposed to take it.

Kamino Neko
05-21-2009, 12:09 PM
Issue 4, the issue narrated by/about Doctor Manhattan mentions the constitution being amended, in 1975 (or thereabouts), to allow Nixon to run again.

The 22nd Amendment isn't mentioned by name, but the restriction it imposes is.

Page 21, first panel, first narrative box.

'It's 1975, the papers are full of the president's proposed constitutional amendment, allowing him to run for a third term.'

Shoeless
05-21-2009, 12:14 PM
I haven't read the comic, only seen the movie, but there was one detail that made me scratch my head a bit. IIRC, the movie takes place in the 80's, but don't they say that Nixon was just elected to his third term? It seems to me that by that point he should have been in at least his fourth term. A third Nixon term would have ended in 1980. Am I remembering that detail correctly?

Telemark
05-21-2009, 12:14 PM
I also think the 22nd itself was less known back in 1985-1986.
I disagree. Anyone who has a smattering of knowledge of American politics has known this since FDR.

Elendil's Heir
05-21-2009, 02:16 PM
I haven't read the comic, only seen the movie, but there was one detail that made me scratch my head a bit. IIRC, the movie takes place in the 80's, but don't they say that Nixon was just elected to his third term? It seems to me that by that point he should have been in at least his fourth term. A third Nixon term would have ended in 1980. Am I remembering that detail correctly?

I don't remember a specific reference to a third term in the movie, although some of the publicity materials mentioned it - incorrectly, as you say. Nixon was first elected in 1968 and reelected in 1972 in WatchmenWorld and our own, and then reelected in 1976, 1980 and 1984 in WW. Hopefully President Redford would oust him in 1988 (or Reagan would, as mentioned in the movie, although he'd be far too old to be running for his first term then, IMHO).

Captain Carrot
05-21-2009, 02:24 PM
'It's 1975, the papers are full of the president's proposed constitutional amendment, allowing him to run for a third term.'

Which always seemed odd to me, since stuff like that is almost always written to exclude the present officeholders; Truman could have run for a third term.

Carl Corey
05-21-2009, 03:54 PM
I think there is also a reference in Doug Roth's interview with Adrian Veidt.

muldoonthief
05-21-2009, 04:14 PM
Which always seemed odd to me, since stuff like that is almost always written to exclude the present officeholders; Truman could have run for a third term.

But if Nixon wants to run for a third term, and he's the one writing the amendment, he'd specifically include the current officeholder. It's just habit that stuff like that excludes the present officeholder, since normally it's a limitation or restriction on him, rather than an expansion of powers.

Northern Piper
05-21-2009, 04:49 PM
Which always seemed odd to me, since stuff like that is almost always written to exclude the present officeholders; Truman could have run for a third term.

Not always, though - the Twentieth Amendment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twentieth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution) cut short the terms of all the Congress and President/Vice-President at the time it came into force:

Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

So for example, John Nance Garner served two full terms as Vice-President, but those two full terms didn't amount to eight full years. He served from March 4, 1933 – January 20, 1941. Similar for all the members of Congress at the time the amendment came into force in 1933.

muldoonthief
05-21-2009, 05:02 PM
Actually, a simple "The Twenty Second article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed" would seem to be all you need - if that's ratified while the current President is still in office, what would stop him from running for a 3rd term?

Captain Carrot
05-21-2009, 05:20 PM
Actually, a simple "The Twenty Second article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed" would seem to be all you need - if that's ratified while the current President is still in office, what would stop him from running for a 3rd term?

You wouldn't want to do that because the 22nd amendment did more than term limits. The other stuff, like starting in January instead of March, is still a good idea.

Northern Piper
05-21-2009, 05:49 PM
You wouldn't want to do that because the 22nd amendment did more than term limits. The other stuff, like starting in January instead of March, is still a good idea.

Nope - that stuff is in the Twentieth Amendment - see my link above.

The Twenty-Second Amendment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Text) is just about the Presidential term limit.

TBG
05-21-2009, 07:27 PM
The other stuff, like starting in January instead of March, is still a good idea.

Why? What difference does it make?

Northern Piper
05-21-2009, 09:47 PM
Used to be you'd have a lame-duck Congress and President - new ones got elected in November, but didn't take office until March, four months later. The old President and Congress didn't have much political legitimacy to do anything major. Twentieth Amendment cut the waiting time down to two months.

Still not as efficient as Britain, which does the hand-over the day after the election, and other parliamentary systems like Canada, which usually does the hand-over two to three weeks after the election.

Little Nemo
05-21-2009, 09:57 PM
Issue 4, the issue narrated by/about Doctor Manhattan mentions the constitution being amended, in 1975 (or thereabouts), to allow Nixon to run again.

The 22nd Amendment isn't mentioned by name, but the restriction it imposes is.

Page 21, first panel, first narrative box.

'It's 1975, the papers are full of the president's proposed constitutional amendment, allowing him to run for a third term.'Okay, I was wrong then.I disagree. Anyone who has a smattering of knowledge of American politics has known this since FDR.I agree most Americans probably knew it. But the average non-American is not going to be as familiar with the details of the American constitutional law except when it becomes an actual, as opposed to theoretical, issue.

Little Nemo
05-21-2009, 10:14 PM
On a side-issue, if there had been no Watergate scandal and Nixon had completed his second term, who would have been his successor? Ford would have been a replacement Vice President rather than the incumbent so he wouldn't be the obvious heir apparent. Reagan challenged Ford unsuccessfully for the nomination and presumedly that would be unchanged. With a more open field and without the post-Watergate fallout more Republicans might have run: maybe Anderson, Baker, Bush, Dole, Kemp, or Rockefeller. I've read that Nixon favored John Connally, although in 1976 he had only been a Republican for three years. (I'll assume Harold Stassen's chances would be unchanged.)

I'll assume the Democratic race would have been unchanged. I see no reason why Carter would not have been the nominee. (Although Carter did gain some advantage in being seen as a Washington "outsider" after Watergate.) So my prediction would have been Reagan beating Carter in 1976.

Bryan Ekers
05-21-2009, 10:28 PM
On a side-issue, if there had been no Watergate scandal and Nixon had completed his second term, who would have been his successor? Ford would have been a replacement Vice President rather than the incumbent so he wouldn't be the obvious heir apparent.

Ford was the veep in the book, though. He got that post through a sequence of events that had nothing to do with Watergate, but with Spiro Agnew's own scandals.

I'll assume the Democratic race would have been unchanged. I see no reason why Carter would not have been the nominee. (Although Carter did gain some advantage in being seen as a Washington "outsider" after Watergate.) So my prediction would have been Reagan beating Carter in 1976.

Nah. Redford in '88!

Little Nemo
05-21-2009, 11:03 PM
Ford was the veep in the book, though. He got that post through a sequence of events that had nothing to do with Watergate, but with Spiro Agnew's own scandals.I know that. What I was saying is that a Vice President, especially an appointed one, doesn't have the same stature as a President. So Ford would have had a harder time winning the nomination. And as I pointed out, even as President, Ford was challenged by one other serious contender. If he was just VP, other Republicans probably would have figured they had as good a chance as Ford had to get nominated.

Peter Morris
05-21-2009, 11:47 PM
Watchmen was set in an alternate universe with a slightly diffent history. (For example, Heinz advertised 58 varieties instead of 57 in our realioty.) Any difference from reality can be explained away by saying " this took place in a different reality."

Elendil's Heir
05-22-2009, 12:43 AM
...(For example, Heinz advertised 58 varieties instead of 57 in our realioty.)....

Really? I don't remember that. Cite?

Little Nemo
05-22-2009, 11:49 AM
Watchmen was set in an alternate universe with a slightly diffent history. (For example, Heinz advertised 58 varieties instead of 57 in our realioty.) Any difference from reality can be explained away by saying " this took place in a different reality."I think you missed my point. My question was not whether the Watchmen universe if different from our own - because the answer to that question is pretty obvious. My question was whether Moore was aware that one of the differences was that our universe prohibits a President from serving a third term - and that question has been answered.

DrFidelius
05-22-2009, 12:10 PM
Heck, Moore (or Gibbons) wasn't even aware that the proper way to fold an American flag is into a triangle.

(Look at The Comedian's coffin.)

Captain Carrot
05-22-2009, 01:23 PM
Nope - that stuff is in the Twentieth Amendment - see my link above.

The Twenty-Second Amendment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Text) is just about the Presidential term limit.

That should teach me to look stuff up before posting. Thanks.

Elendil's Heir
05-22-2009, 01:53 PM
Heck, Moore (or Gibbons) wasn't even aware that the proper way to fold an American flag is into a triangle.

(Look at The Comedian's coffin.)

He also has the undertakers in top hats with crepe ribbons, which is much more a British thing than American.

Peter Morris
05-22-2009, 02:38 PM
Really? I don't remember that. Cite?

My mistake. It's actually 56 varieties. (http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc144/PeterMorris/Beans.jpg)

Elendil's Heir
05-23-2009, 11:15 AM
I just pulled out my own copy of the book and looked at that panel under a magnifying glass (yes, I am a Watchmen geek). It's on p. 10 of chapter one, in the bottom row. You were right in the first place - it clearly is the number "58," proving conclusively that WatchmenWorld is one better than our own. ;)

And did anyone notice this in the President's speech on national security on Thursday?

"...We're currently launching a review of current policies by all those agencies responsible for the classification of documents to determine where reforms are possible, and to assure that the other branches of government will be in a position to review executive branch decisions on these matters. Because in our system of checks and balances, someone must always watch over the watchers -- especially when it comes to sensitive administration -- information...."

Emphasis added, of course.

sjc
05-23-2009, 07:12 PM
I just pulled out my own copy of the book and looked at that panel under a magnifying glass (yes, I am a Watchmen geek). It's on p. 10 of chapter one, in the bottom row. You were right in the first place - it clearly is the number "58," proving conclusively that WatchmenWorld is one better than our own. ;)

And did anyone notice this in the President's speech on national security on Thursday?

"...We're currently launching a review of current policies by all those agencies responsible for the classification of documents to determine where reforms are possible, and to assure that the other branches of government will be in a position to review executive branch decisions on these matters. Because in our system of checks and balances, someone must always watch over the watchers -- especially when it comes to sensitive administration -- information...."

Emphasis added, of course.

Of course that quote is not original to The Watchmen.

Elendil's Heir
05-23-2009, 09:13 PM
Of course that quote is not original to The Watchmen.

Of course. Juvenal's The Satires is credited in Watchmen.

Scissorjack
05-24-2009, 06:40 AM
I just pulled out my own copy of the book and looked at that panel under a magnifying glass (yes, I am a Watchmen geek). It's on p. 10 of chapter one, in the bottom row. You were right in the first place - it clearly is the number "58," proving conclusively that WatchmenWorld is one better than our own. ;)

The 58th flavour is human bean juice.

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