Dnan Milbank has a perplexing column in today's Washington Post. Mr. Milbank attacks Republicans not so much for reading the Constitution on the floor of the House, but for having the temerity to read only the currently operative portions of the Constitution.
Or, as Mr. Milbank puts it, "an excerpted version of the founding document conjuring a fanciful land that never counted a black person as three-fifths of a white person, never denied women the right to vote, never allowed slavery and never banned liquor."
O tempora! O mores! The sheer audacity of the House Republicans! To read America's foundational document, while leaving out the inoperative parts! It is not done! We must read the entire document, so as to better show America as a racist, sexist, ban-happy sinner!
'Puter has a few thoughts.
1. BEST CASE: Mr. Milbank views everything through a liberal's twisted viewfinder, in which everything is reducible to group identity and victimhood. Here, the Republicans' purpose in reading the Constitution was to remind themselves (and the Democrats) that there are limits to legislative authority. Mr. Milbank feebly attempts to cram down his own preferred purpose on the Republicans' Constitution reading: a history lesson showing why White European American men are evil and bad, and must be blamed and/or punished for any unfortunate occurrence befalling any Democrat recognized victim class at any time, in any place. If this is the case, Mr. Milbank's odd take can be ascribed to his liberal myopia.
2. WORST CASE: Mr. Milbank is being purposefully obtuse in order to tar Republicans as out-of-touch racists, beholden to Tea Baggers (ZOMG!!1!) in order to further liberal aims and agendas. 'Puter's got some experience in the law, and in all but a few instances, one may blithely ignore repealed laws (or portions thereof) because they are, you know, no longer operative. Claiming that Republicans must read inoperative portions of the supreme law of the land is as stupid as insisting that astronomers recognize that the Sun revolves around the Earth, because that's what the general consensus was hundreds of years ago. Mr. Milbank is not a stupid man, so 'Puter is left with the sole remaining possibility: bad faith. But why?
Mr. Milbank and liberals want to discredit the Constitution. To them, the Constitution and its limited government concept stands in the way of letting smart people (largely, them) dictate how stupid people (largely, us) live, because the smart people know best. Mr. Milbank and his fellow travelers know well that much of the liberal agenda is, at a minimum, in tension with Constitutional mandates, if not outright unconstitutional. See, e.g., the individual mandate. Republicans reminding America that there is a limit to government cannot be tolerated, as it challenges liberals' ability to impose their agenda on a benighted citizenry.
Mr. Milbank is a shining example of the very real difficulties Republicans will encounter in this Congress. Mr. Milbank shows that many Democrats are incapable of conceiving any rational basis for a Republican world-view. How can a Republican negotiate with such Democrat true believers? And yet, when Democrats reject rational Republican ideas because they are (to liberals) counterintuitive, Republicans will be pilloried in the Democrat controlled press for their lack of bipartisanship.
Democrats obstinately insisted on the undiluted application of their world view from 2006 through 2010. Democrats witnessed the massive popular backlash against their agenda, resulting in historic Republican gains. Yet, even so, many Democrats have learned nothing. A wise Democrat would reexamine his beliefs in light of such a complete electoral rejection. Mr. Milbank apparently does not fit this bill.
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