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History Is Bunk

Well, it's over. In the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives kicked things off by reading the Constitution, with over 100 members -- of both parties -- taking part. And yes, they engaged in a bit of theatre -- they had a woman Representative read the section that prescribed the wording of the presidential oath of office, they had civil rights icon John Lewis read the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, and even ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (mmm... that's such a sweet phrase, I wanna say it again: "ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi") took part.

And, naturally, the usual suspects complained that the Republicans didn't read certain... awkward parts of the Constitution. Mainly, the part that defined a slave as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of representation.

To which I say: well, duh.

That part of the Constitution -- along with other parts -- are very significant in discussing the history of the document, its origins, and how it has been interpreted and revised over the centuries. Anyone who engages in a historic discussion of the Constitution without mentioning them is, at best, an ass.

But that wasn't the point of yesterday's stunt. It wasn't a history lesson on the Constitution. It was a restating of the laws and rules and principles under which Congress should and must operate. And that means the Constitution as it stands today.

Which is why the 18th Amendment -- Prohibition -- wasn't read, but the 21st Amendment -- which says, in essence, "there is no 18th Amendment" -- was read.

The Constitution is often described (mainly by liberals) as a "living document." But that's not true. It's more of an embodiment of part of Newton's First Law: a body at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by a force. And the "force" is the amending process.

Well, it has been acted upon by that force 27 times (yes, the first 10 were passed as a package, but don't get nit-picky), and some of those amendments have changed the text of the main body. So, while those words are still in the original document, they no longer exist in the eyes of the law. They literally have no meaning any more -- so they were not read.

I drive a Ford SUV. I don't need to know the history of the Ford Motor Company or understand the history and development of the internal-combustion engine to drive it around. (However, I do need to know how to operate its manual transmission -- yeah, I got an ultra-rare 4-door Explorer with a stick shift.) Likewise, the 3/5 clause, the appointment of Senators by state legislatures, and the prohibition of alcohol are not at all relevant to the day-to-day operations of Congress.

Plus, we all know that the protesters would make a huge stink about the omitted sections, so there was no chance that they'd somehow be forgotten just because they weren't read on the floor of the House. Hell, I'd bet that some Democrat will make a point of reading them into the record at some point soon.

The point behind the protests? To nit-pick. To be a pain in the ass. To be contrary simply for the sake of being contrary.

Nice to see what lengths some Democrats will go to to make certain that the partisan bickering will continue in the new Congress.

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Comments (24)

"The point behind the pr... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"The point behind the protests? To nit-pick. To be a pain in the ass. To be contrary simply for the sake of being contrary."

The point for the left is to stake out the position that the Constitution is no longer a valid or useful document for governing this nation. That narrative runs throughout the media and the statements of the dems for over the last year.

If the point of the GOP was to illustrate the divergence between the dems, who believe that the constitution is obsolete and can be largely ignored and need only be trotted out when convenient, and the GOP, who believe that returning to Constitutional principles may provide the means to get government working again, then the exercise was an unqualified success.

Let's hope they keep this u... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

Let's hope they keep this up for another year and a half. November 2012 will truly be a "sweet November".

The left is and always will... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The left is and always will be a very trite, petty, childish bunch. ww

It was amazing how some lib... (Below threshold)

It was amazing how some liberal Democrats and media pundits found the reading distasteful, calling it political theater. I doubt the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have given their lives to defend and protect this document for more than 200 years would have seen this as theater. Do we discount their sacrifice by marginalizing this reading, as so many in the liberal media did yesterday? Did our President feel this reading was trivial or political theater?

Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States…….”

The Constitution lays out some very powerful responsibilities directly to the President, who, (before the Execution of his Office), is to have sworn to faithfully execute. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

This oath, (statement of loyalty), is also required in our Constitution, the same document that sets limitations on the powers of the Federal Government. The oath is not some afterthought of our Founding Fathers, or inserted years later. George Washington cited this very oath in his first Inauguration. My belaboring point is this fact: that the first and foremost duty directed by this oath is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. It did not say “follow your guts” or govern to the best of your ability under the guise of hope and change, while ignoring this document as some outdated parchment.

If our liberal media or any Congressperson find this trivial or boring, I would suggest that they take up residence elsewhere. We, the people still find the Constitution as sacred as the very lives who perished to preserve, protect, and defend it.

Mainly, the part that de... (Below threshold)
John:

Mainly, the part that defined a slave as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of representation. This was as it says used as representaion, the southren states wanted to slaves to get more representaives, the northren states knew they were out numbered that. So they compromised with the 3/5th wording. Lets not lose sight with the fact women were not allowed to vote. If I recall only a full citizen was allowed to vote.

Boehner's first mistake was... (Below threshold)
oldpuppymax:

Boehner's first mistake was inviting Democrats to participate. His second was not firing back with both barrels, pointing out that the complaining Dems had nothing but contempt for the document in the first place and illustrating the points at which the left trampled on the text during its 4 year tenure in power.

A 4-speed Explorer?? Just a... (Below threshold)
oldpuppymax:

A 4-speed Explorer?? Just a bit of advice...be prepared for a SHOCK if you should ever decide to trade it in!! My advice is drive it until it passes away and then park it in the back yard as a conversation piece. It will have far more value as such!

For the life of me I can't ... (Below threshold)
Razorgirl:

For the life of me I can't understand why elected officials would take an oath to uphold the Constitution and then not want to read it. I blame the public school system for downgrading our Constitution. That's what these people were taught and that is all they know. Thank-you Mr. Oreck for being a great Civics teacher at Chester County High School in Henderson, Tennessee. He is long gone but his lessons live on.

And Jay - Great analogy with the vehicle instructions. May I use it? I need to "dumb down" my arguments so a liberal I know can understand it.

Give Boehner credit.... (Below threshold)
Hank:


Give Boehner credit. He finally got the dems to read something at least. We know they don't read the bills they vote on and pass.

Nope, oldpuppy. Mongo has F... (Below threshold)

Nope, oldpuppy. Mongo has FIVE speeds. Plus one for backwards. And that automatic four-wheel-drive setup, to boot.

Value? That's why I got it -- it was so damned cheap, relatively speaking. Especially since it had almost-brand-new studded snow tires. And I probably won't trade it in or resell it, but run it right into the ground.

It's not a great vehicle, but it's a good one. He does what I want him to, what I need him for, and I can live with his foibles and idiosyncrasies.

Meanwhile, a guy I work with has a Civic hybrid that's out of warranty -- and needs a new battery to the tune of $5500. I'll pass.

Others may mock me, but Mongo is the right vehicle for me.

J.

First off, I think reading ... (Below threshold)
James H:

First off, I think reading the Constitution on the floor was a meaningless gesture aimed at placating the Tea Party faction. I suspect that this Congress, like Congresses before it, will be more interested in symbolic pap rather than actual substance. The hope is that if you read the Constitution out loud, the Tea Party stalwarts won't notice that nothing's really changed in Washington.

Otherwise, I wish they'd read the whole Constitution from Preamble to the 27th Amendment. It's a good reminder that our Founding Fathers and their successors in power were mortal, and that they made mistakes along the way, including slavery, Prohibition, and not outlawing Jersey Shore.

MAD magazine used to have a... (Below threshold)
jim crane:

MAD magazine used to have a part called "Snappy Comebacks To _______ ", and it was great. For the dem and pundit DC crowd, and the accomplice media there has to be a sharp retort for such complaints. Palin's good at a one or two word distillation of an issue for making a mega debating point along with simplicity and ease of understanding. Sound- bite sized, incisive, snappy comebacks are really needed for the kindergarten/alphabet news media.

Well at least this Congress... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Well at least this Congress READ something!

"Well at least this Congres... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"Well at least this Congress READ something!"

Yeah, but as usual they didn't read it until after it was passed.

James H,It's not a... (Below threshold)
jim m:

James H,

It's not about some lame, relativistic and ultimately nihilistic exercise in demonstrating that the founders were men and were flawed just as we are flawed today.

I don't understand why it is that lefties like you seem to find that the only use for history is to demonstrate how bad people were and are and never to educate people about ideals and aspiring to be better than we are today.

Always with the left it's about tearing down the fabric of society.

The point of the reading was that we should be paying attention to what the Constitution says. It is the framework for our government and several members of the House (Phil Hare comes to mind first) were on record saying that they really don't think that the Constitution counts for much today. If that is the case we no longer have a government but we have an oligarchy. We do not have representatives, but we really do have a ruling class.

At least we all know where you stand James H. The rest of us already voted and jerks like Phil Hare are now seeking employment elsewhere.

Jim M:Oh, please.<... (Below threshold)
James H:

Jim M:

Oh, please.

If you want to know where I stand, I simply assume that our members of Congress and associated hangers-on are chiefly concerned with maintaining their positions of influence and power. I believe that like every freshman class before them for the past two decades, thenew crop of House revolutionaries will be very quickly subsumed into the Washington political machine.

Jim M, I live and work in the shadow of our capital. I've looked very hard, and I see very little redemptive about anybody in this government any more. I see no Thomas Jeffersons or James Madisons. Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster are noticeably absent. I cannot discern the spirits of Abraham Lincoln of Stephen Douglas in our current leaders. Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan are notably absent. Heck, even I don't even see a Harry Truman or a Dwight Eisenhower. Just a lot of small men and women who cannot hope to fill the shoes of better leaders who came before them.

As far as the Constitution, I've given it a great deal of study, both the document itself and the history around it. And the more I learn about it, the more I realize how miraculous the thing is.

We like to think it is like Athena, born fully formed from our founders' heads, but the document itself is the result of painstaking compromise among men repreenting a variety of regional interests and points of view.

That they managed to agree for long enough to sign it is itself nearly astonishing, particularly considering the political games those very men and their immediate successors would play in the early years of the Republic.

I know the reading of the Constitution is not meant to show that the founders were human. In fact, it's intended as a sort of secular deification of those founders ... a process that can lead to a distorted view of this country's history.

It was amazing how some ... (Below threshold)
john:

It was amazing how some liberal Democrats and media pundits found the reading distasteful, calling it political theater.

Jay called it a "stunt". Is that any better?

"..the appointment of Senat... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"..the appointment of Senators by state legislatures, ... are not at all relevant to the day-to-day operations of Congress."

More's the pity. I'd love to see that one changed back.

While you may consider it a... (Below threshold)
jim m:

While you may consider it a stunt, we could do far worse than to remind the ignorant people that many have sent to DC that the Constitution still remains the foundation of our laws and that it really does mean something.

Dem Congressmen might think that it doesn't limit the action of government and liberal SCOTUS justices may think that the intent of the framers is insignificant compared to the opinion of foreign governments and the MSM, but that just goes to show that they need reminding that it really does still count.

The fact that the libs are all screaming about it means that reading the Constitution was a direct hit on their worthless ideology.

Nope, oldpuppy. Mo... (Below threshold)
Brett :
Nope, oldpuppy. Mongo has FIVE speeds. Plus one for backwards. And that automatic four-wheel-drive setup, to boot.

Value? That's why I got it -- it was so damned cheap, relatively speaking. Especially since it had almost-brand-new studded snow tires. And I probably won't trade it in or resell it, but run it right into the ground.

It's not a great vehicle, but it's a good one. He does what I want him to, what I need him for, and I can live with his foibles and idiosyncrasies.

Is that a "3 (er, 4) on the tree" shifter?

Brett: Nope, floor stick. B... (Below threshold)

Brett: Nope, floor stick. Big ol' floor stick, with the double H pattern. Am I gonna have to post pictures of Mr. Duckie sitting on the shifter?

Wouldn't be that tough; he rides on the dashboard...

john: yup, it was a stunt. Note the lack of modifier, though -- I didn't say "dumb stunt" or "pointless stunt." Sometimes stunts serve purposes, and I liked this one.

J.

"Sometimes stunts serve pur... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Sometimes stunts serve purposes.."

It sure smoked out some pols/pundits/lefties.

Whether it was just 'my team good, your team bad' or they really do not respect the Constitution, it is rather illuminating.

I never cease to be amazed ... (Below threshold)
Bartly:

I never cease to be amazed at the contortions the Tea Partiers go through when their rose-colored glasses and factless hysteria about the Constititon being a violated object of godlike perfection comes a cropper, as happened during this reading stunt in Congress. Leaving out the key parts of the document that lead this nation into a major war to rip them up shows what fraudulent scholars of the document these phonies really are.

The amended reading of the Constitution made the whole episode a laughingstock, and showed one again these con artists on the right are nothing more than showboating neoconfederates

Bartly, listen to me very c... (Below threshold)

Bartly, listen to me very carefully, because I'm tired of repeating myself:

the reference to slaves counting as 3/5 of a person is not part of the Constitution.

Yes, it once was. But it was written out 150 years ago. It's been out of the Constitution almost twice as long as it was in. That's what "amend" means -- to change. We matured, we grew up, and we changed.

Give it a try some time, dipshit.

J.




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