Late Night: Long Live the King
“In this bill we will nullify anything the president does that smacks of legislation,” the Republican Senator from Kentucky said Wednesday. “And there are several of the executive orders that appear as if he’s writing new law. That cannot happen.”
“I’m afraid that President Obama may have this ‘king complex’ sort of developing, and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Thus spake Rand Paul, US Senator (!), somewhat before he knew what, exactly, Obama’s proposals would entail. But does that really matter? True believers like Paul are reliably armed with two of the three things they’ve ever half-read (not written by Ayn Rand), the Bible and the Constitution, and have come to some pretty novel conclusions about both works. Of course, such conclusions are completely nuts, but nonetheless at least as infallible as whatever comes out of the Pope’s ass on any given day, so there.
Although this sort of Constitutional Calvinball has been played since the days of Barry Goldwater, I do have to give the right-wing’s billionaire puppeteers credit for turning it into the sort of thing US Senators, no matter how cuckoo, don’t mind explaining patiently, on TV to the heretofore unenlightened masses.
Back in the day, conservative jurists fearful of a changing society tirelessly invoked something they called “originalism,” calculating correctly that anything dreamed up by rich white guys in the 18th century surely wouldn’t go too easy on the poor, the dark, or the testosterone-challenged. But in the end, that strategy stopped working; even the most knuckle-dragging judges of the intervening years did concede, albeit reluctantly, that maybe women and racial minorities ought to vote, segregation was bad, and the government could, in a pinch, levy an income tax.
So along comes the born-200-years-too-late crowd, of whom Pauly the Younger is but one, who think America got off track sometime a little before the Missouri Compromise, and dang it if they don’t think others should also believe such errant nonsense. Worse, if they watch Fox News, they probably already do. Thus, Glenn Beck’s once-startling denunciations of Woodrow Wilson (!) and whatnot later morphed into Michele Bachmann’s unblinking assertion that the Founding Fathers worked to abolish slavery and Sarah Palin’s addled notion that Paul Revere practically founded the NRA, or was at least its inspiration.
Unfortunately, in a country where public education has been willfully degraded to the point where only a diminishing minority know the difference between the words “your” and “you’re,” let alone grasp the finer points of Constitutional Jurisprudence, such transparent cons are dismayingly easy to put over. Here in Oregon four elected Sheriffs have vowed, evidently before a hasty gathering of tumbleweeds and Fox microphones, to go the way of South Carolina 150 years ago, hoping for a different result. So, four underpaid union-thug, public trough-slopping “takers” whose IQ’s, taken together, obviously couldn’t bake a potato, nonetheless confidently spout the engineered rhetoric of such plucky Freedom Fighters as ALEC and the Koch Brothers.
While such infantile drivel passes for public discourse, real constitutional transgressions, large and small, continue unabated, as luck would have it. If Paul, Beck, or their many lesser minions cared a whit about the actual document, rather than the heavily redacted version of it they like to wave around when convenient, they would find plenty of reasons to legitimately oppose President Obama, and I would probably agree with them.
But they don’t. As the sentient might recall, when Bush was waxing monarchical, they were as happy as priests at a Boy Scout camp, and as long as Obama only does those unconstitutional things, they could devote their airtime to calling women sluts, blaming gays for hurricanes, and other such worthy endeavors. Now they’ve suddenly turned their portraits of Washington, Madison, Jefferson, et al, back away from the wall, and want everyone to have a look-see.
Good luck with that.
Original photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license