There seems to be a little confusion – to be charitable about it – about precisely why the Republican party insisted on reading the Constitution out at the beginning of the 112th Congress. It’s not actually that complicated, really. It was because of idiots like this from the 111th Congress:
That’s Phil Hare from Illinois. If you can’t see the video: this fellow was so clueless about the US Constitution that he couldn’t tell where it ended and the Declaration of Independence began. Which is embarrassing enough, but as Glenn Reynolds noted in passing elsewhere there were a lot of idiots in Congress who were demonstrating a similar lack of elementary understanding of the actually rather straightforward document that they were operating under. And it wasn’t just legislators: the Volokh Conspiracy discovered this gem by Dana Milbank where Milbank quite relentlessly demonstrated that he knows less about the history of the suffrage movement than the people he’s sneering at.
That’s kind of the important part, really. Milbank was outrageously outraged that the ‘original’ Constitution wasn’t read, because as he put it the ‘original’ Constitution “denied women the right to vote.” Which is, of course, nonsense: the ‘original’ Constitution was silent on the right of women to vote, which is why fifteen states already had full suffrage by the time that the 19th Amendment was ratified. More to the immediate point: the average Tea Partier already knows this – and I was unsurprised in the slightest that Milbank did not. And that’s why the GOP had the document read aloud: because our chattering classes and the politicians on the Other Side think that they’re more educated on this subject than they actually are. This was a quick remedial class, because the Republican party can’t actually make either group go back to school.
Will it work? Probably not: but at least the Democrats and their allies no longer have the excuse of being able to claim that they were never told otherwise…
Moe Lane (crosspost)