STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
So, the GOP will pander to their Tea Party brethren next month by reading the US Constitution out loud and declaring that any bill proposed by a member of Congress contain a personal guarantee that the bill corresponds with the US Constitution.
I have two things to say about this.
First, good. Reading is something Tea Party folk should do a lot more of. I am sure few if any of them have actually read the US Constitution and, of those who have, I serious doubt they were able to decode the antique English.
Instead, I strongly suspect, they read and "understood" the constitution in the same way they claim to have read and understood the Bible; they began reading it knowing what they knew and what they wanted it to say, so that must be what it says.
But on a more serious note, there is something quite real going on with all this. The far-right has decided to do to the text of the US Constitution what al Qaeda has done to the text of the Koran - twist it to fit their political/social agenda then use it as a bludgeon to get their way.
It doesn't seem to occur to them that, if sussing out the precise meaning of each and every article of the US Constitution were as easy as reading the damn thing out loud, why did those who wrote it insist on three branches of government, not just two -- the legislative and executive branches.
But they didn't, they included a third branch, the judiciary, with the US Supreme Court at it's head. Why? Because they knew, better than anyone, that the devils of democracy lived in the details, and always would.
But the right hates details, which they dismiss as mere "nuance." Because, after all, everyone knows the founders were a group of notoriously un-nuanced fellas, right? And why would anyone want to dissect constitutional details, because it only leads to trouble.
Take the "to provide for the general welfare," in the Preamble. Everyone knows what that means -- except for those who dispute it has anything to do with providing for the nation's poor. No way, they say. It simply means government should maintain a tidy and orderly country where anyone can prosper and, therefore, don't need government assistance. What of those who fail to prosper? Well, that would either be their own fault or because those people are socialists. In either case, the Right finds no succor for them in the US Constitution.
Think I'm kidding about that? Here, this is from the site usconstitution.net which provides definitions of words like, public welfare:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
When you click on the word "Welfare," you get this definition:
Welfare - noun: health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being. Welfare in today's context also means organized efforts on the part of public or private organizations to benefit the poor, or simply public assistance. This is not the meaning of the word as used in the Constitution.
Get it? See where all this is headed? That little "detail"-- providing for the general Welfare, is in the very first sentence of a very long document.
So, in the weeks ahead, get ready to witness the Talibanization of the US Constitution. Because that grand old document is just chuck full of words this new breed of elected semi-literates will have to wrestle with.Their introduction to antique English, proper syntax and complete lack of pictures, will be interesting to witness. After they read the constitution out loud in January, they'll surely proceed to flash it around the same way pimps show off their bling.
The far right wing Heritage Foundation is handing out free copies of the constitution to the faithful, who will surely put them next to their Bibles, both of which they are certain support whatever it is they believe at any point in time.
But don't press these Tea Partiers too hard for granular details on constitutional matters. They will use it the same way parents retreat to "because I said so," when raising kids. When they can't win the argument with facts they will hold up the constitution and shout, "because it says so." So don't expect explanations, at least not explanations that make any real sense.Instead you're more likely to get the kind of "logic" practiced by baseball legends, Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra from back in the day.
Here -- consider what follows as exercises to get your gray matter ready for the age of Tea Party Constitutional governance:
Yogi when asked to explain a batter's prowess: "He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
Yogi, when asked about something he said: "I never said most of the things I said."
Yogi, when asked about his plans for the team: "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else."
Yogi, when asked why his plans for season had not panned out: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."
And there was Casey Stengel, who told his team one day: "All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height."
And warned one should, "never make predictions, especially about the future."
But even Yogi Berra knew when to keep his mouth shut, something the Tea Party folk seem to have forgotten: "If you ask me anything I don't know, I'm not going to answer."