"Our Country!
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right;
but right or wrong, our country!"

    --Commodore Stephen Decatur

Friday, January 7, 2011

An Error of Amendment

In today's Washington Post, columnist Dana Milbank proves just how obtuse he can be when he applies himself:

The idea of reading the Constitution aloud was generated by the Tea Party as a way to re-affirm lawmakers' fealty to the framers, but in practice it did the opposite. In deciding to omit objectionable passages that were later altered by amendment, the new majority jettisoned "originalist" and "constructionist" beliefs and created - dare it be said? - a "living Constitution" pruned of the founders' missteps. Nobody's proud of the three-fifths compromise, but how can we learn from our founding if we aren't honest about it?
It has probably been said that politics is the greatest sport in America, but if we were to follow Milbank's logic in another great American pastime, referees at football games would have to first call plays according to obsolete rules and then reverse their calls at some random point later in the game. Imagine the unsettling nature of the ref coming on the field during the third quarter to reverse a pass interference call that happened half an hour earlier?

Just as refs keep both teams honest in sports, Republicans chose to read the Constitution aloud in order to remind delinquent Democrats and squishy Republicans that there is actually a set of rules that limit what Congress can do. Instead of reading straight through the Constitution with "track changes mode" enabled, the Republicans chose to present the document in its current form, thus highlighting their commitment to consistent application of the rules.

All of this presents a stark contrast to the anything goes mentality of the last Congress. During the fight over ObamaCare, then-Speaker Pelosi was asked by a reporter if the Democrats' health reform proposal was constitutional. Her response was, "Are you serious?!"

Yes Nancy. We're serious.

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