Friday, January 7, 2011

Let's Read It So We'll Know What's In It

Yes, my friends, I must admit I had a great sense of schadenfreude watching the botoxed face of Nancy Pelosi having to read from the Constitution on the second day of the new Congress. She knew she had to do it, but it must have seemed to her like being required to down an entire bottle of castor oil. There they were. All those Democrats being introduced for the very first time to the foundational document of the greatest Republic in history.

I kept waiting for San Fran Nan to lose it and start shouting "it's alive, it's alive!" Once I realized that wasn't going to happen, I re-ran the moment just to determine if she had her fingers crossed. No luck there either. Just imagine the humiliation. She's lost her throne, her plane, her perks, and much of her influence, and now she's required to read from the very document that guaranteed the people the power to kick her skinny arse out of that seat.

Prior to the bipartisan reading of the document from the well of the House, several liberal Democrats made it clear they were unhappy. Sort of like the early Renaissance Church authorities who wanted the Mass to be heard in Latin only, lest the peasants find out what the priests were really telling the congregations and what the Bible actually says. You can never find an Inquisition when you need one. Lefty Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) was incensed at even the suggestion of a reading of the Constitution. "It's a stunt," he said, "and it [the Constitution, I presume] is irrelevant to the issues we have to face. It's as if the thing was some kind of sacred document."

There were a few legitimate complaints, however. Talking heads kept yammering about "which version" of the Constitution was going to be read. Huh? There's only one version. What they were actually trying to say is "will the Constitution be read straight up?" The answer, sadly, was no. And it gave some demagogic Democrats a legitimate reason to complain, even if for the wrong reasons. In order to avoid having to read the portions of the original Constitution, sans the Bill of Rights and later Amendments, the Republicans went all politically-correct and deleted the portions relating to slavery and slaves as being only three-fifths of a person.

Their excuse was that there was no point in reading portions of the Constitution of 1789 which had subsequently been changed or eliminated as a result of later Amendments. That left the Democrats an opportunity to complain that the agony of black slaves was being ignored by the redacting Republicans. And Jesse Junior Jackson wasted no time tossing that theory into the ring.

Instead of walking on eggs, the Republicans should have been touting the glory of a document so rich in the rights of man and the responsibilities of government that it provided for change when those goals were being suppressed or ignored. What's the point of the Civil War Amendments if not to rectify the most major error the Founders made? What could the Supreme Court have based its decision in Brown v. Board of Education on if there were no Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments?

Of course we can always count on the New York Times to get it all wrong. They missed the part about the politically-correct redacting (which would have been a legitimate ground for criticism). All they heard was that those damned Republican right-wing reactionary fascists were going to read the Constitution. Using the device of the backhanded insult, they commented: "Surely the Republican leadership is not suggesting that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person." Anyone who knows the Times knows that the historically-ignorant and constitutionally deficient editors were inferring that the Republicans meant exactly that. I'm guessing they don't know that those annoying Civil War Amendments are part and parcel of the Constitution.

All of that said, this was a patriotic gesture which will not produce new legislation nor change the minds of doctrinaire liberals and leftists. They will still consider the Constitution an impediment to good governance. But at least, probably for the very first time, Democrats were forced to read from the Constitution, out loud, in Congress, in front of cameras broadcasting to the world, or face explaining why they found the document so repulsive. I'm rather amazed at how few of them choked, gagged or teared-up. They're better actors than I would have thought. It was ninety minutes of joy for those of us who love the Constitution, and ninety minutes of agony for those who think you're just supposed to make things up as you go along.

That's my take on the worthiness of taking time out to read--really read--the Constitution. It was merely symbolic and a gesture to patriotism and the love of limited government, but couldn't we all use a little more of that in our lives?

12 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Nice, Hawk - if this causes anybody to actually read the Constitution and reflect upon what it says, then it's worth it. Of course, the irony of getting to watch Cruella was delicious as well.

T_Rav said...

I wonder if the New York Times is even aware that it was the southern slaveholders who wanted slaves to be counted as whole persons, in order to boost their population figures in the census and representation in Congress as a result. The three-fifths compromise was intended to prevent the slave states from having too much power over the federal government and making it go only the way they wanted it to. Somehow, I suspect this will never occur to the intellectual luminaries of that newspaper.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: It was a guilty pleasure watching her. I was giggling like a school kid.

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: Nor will the Times ever notice the clever trap the abolitionists set. The got their union, but they also got the argument about counting human beings as property. The moral argument against such a concept was strong, but it also included the argument that the North should be allowed to count its horses, factories and other "property" for purposes of representation in the House. Ultimately, the North would win the argument on both counts. If the South stopped counting slaves as property, they lost heavily in the House, and if they counted them as human beings, they couldn't deny them the vote. It was an "I win or you lose argument." Unfortunately, it finally took a civil war to settle the issue.

LL said...

I thought that the wicked witch would catch fire -- but she only looked disgusted.

StanH said...

I think it’s indicator that Washington is slowly getting the point. Though symbolic, we made’em do it. If we can keep the pressure up through several election cycles, who knows, we may have the house sing a rousing rendition of, “America The Beautiful,” at the start of every session.

BevfromNYC said...

Just to confirm, it was the first time in our history that the Constitution has been read aloud in a chamber of Congress. And I am pretty sure it's the first time it has been read at ALL by many of our esteemed Congresscritters! I hope that this becomes a regular event with the swearing in of each new Congress...

I can understand why the Repubs decided to leave the slave issue out. People today have absolutely idea how to put issues like these into their proper historical context. Even now, someone has just taken the n-word and "injun" out of Huck Finn so as not to offend. I mean really, how is it that along with reading Huck Finn, teachers can't also teach about the what Twain was trying to convey in the 1880's? You know, make one of those "teachable moments" we've heard so much about.

LawHawkRFD said...

LL: It's very hard to tell when she "looks" anything. She has that face so plastered into position that I'm never sure if she's laughing, crying, or screaming in horror. Disgust seems almost too subtle to detect. Good call.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: How about "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead" occasionally?

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: We've gotta start 'em young. Get Injun and, you know, the other word, back where they belong. A good way to start would be to tell kids that they are absolutely forbidden to read original copies of Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and the Constitution, then make sure there are plenty of copies partially-hidden away where they can get to them. I know when I was little, I read all of them, and I didn't murder a single black person, seek out an Indian to attack, or send a letter bomb to a government official.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
I can not reap any joy or gleeful feelings at the expense of any one, not even Nancey. She has however reaped what she has sown.

They, the Dems, do not understand that in all of man kinds history the Constitution and the Magna Carta are with out exception the two greatest documents ever created by man.

Both are directly responsible for the rise of the greatest societies in the world. Yes we do belittle the Brits but objectively speaking their society stands head and shoulders above any of it's predecessors. Only the United States of America surpassed theirs, thanks to our Constitution.

I am hoping these new representatives can and will live up to the bar they have set in place.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Some people are so inherently evil, so devious, and so arrogant that I'm incapable of activating my forgiveness gene.

She may never before have read the Constitution, but I'm sure she is quite familiar with the parts of Magna Carta which take power from the king and give it to the barons (and baronesses, like Pelosi). The people were not yet a consideration, except as they were useful to the barons. Sound familiar?

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