RULE XIX OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, PART VIII, PROVIDES FOR THE FOLLOWING:
“Former Presidents of the United States shall be entitled to address the Senate upon appropriate notice to the Presiding Officer who shall thereupon make the necessary arrangements.”
My guess is you did not know this. But I do, and have since it was adopted by the Senate. And I have been mystified as to why no former president has ever asked for the privilege to address the Senate, and in turn, the People of the United States.
I put the question to former President Gerald R. Ford. It was at a reception at a home in Rancho Santa Fe, California. President Ford was aware of the Senate Rule, but said he had never given it serious thought. I pushed him on it. I said I thought it would be a great thing, that there would be tremendous interest in such a historic moment. But, this oh so gracious, lovely man, thanked me for the suggestion, said he appreciated it, but said it was unlikely.
So here’s my question:
Shouldn’t we ask President Obama to become the first former president to ask the Presiding Officer of the Senate that Senate Rule XIX be invoked in order that he, the 44th President, might speak to the Senate and to the People of the United States?
And wouldn’t there be incredible interest in such a precedent-setting, historic moment?
And, while it might make us wistful for what we have lost, it might also restore an element of hope for those who believe it is still possible to be president and retain your grace and dignity.
Please, President Obama, do this!