Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christine O'Donnell's Constitutional Knowledge

It would help a Tea Party candidate who shouts to high heavens the sanctity of the Constitution and who claims reference to the Constitution as the sole means for legislating to actually, you know, know the Constitution. Christine O'Donnell's constitutional knowledge leaves much to be desired. In fact, I wouldn't put her in front of a first grade class to discuss the Constitution. She apparently has no clue what the 14th, 16th, and 17th Amendments to the Constitution are -- which is surprising given that these Amendments are very much the subject of critical scrutiny among a strong contingent of the Tea Party, which she claims to come from and embrace. But it's her apparent obtuseness about the First Amendment's establishment clause that really is the shocker:

What a joke!


eric said...

While O'Donnell admittedly seems woefully unfamiliar w/ the Constitution for a Senate candidate, it was clear to me that she knew the issues, arguments, and substance behind the 14th, 16th, and 17th Amendments, she just didn't know which number represented each one.

I confess, she makes me cringe. I'd still vote for her over Coons.

eric said...

Also worth noting, in the same debate Coons could not meet O'Donnell's challenge to name the five freedoms guaranteed in the 1st Amendment. He could only name one.

It kind of reminds me of an interview I saw w/ P.J. O'Rourke last weekend. He was asked what he thought about the Tea Party, and his response was something like this, "They are usually rough orators and coarse thinkers, but I will give them this: Ask any Ivy League educated person where the seperation between church and state is spelled out in the Constitituion and they will without blinking tell you the 1st Amendment. A Tea Partier will tell you that verbiage does not exist in the Constitution and is a quote from Thomas Jefferson's letters, and that church and state are not constitutionally forbidden from ever dancing together, they just can't do the horizontal tango. The Tea Partiers are more correct."

Huck said...

When liberals refer to the notion of the separation of church and state as it relates to the constitution, we never claim that this verbiage exists in the Constitution. Coons clearly exemplified this when he reference the establishment clause as the source of the separation of church and state argument. And O'Donnell seemed even not to know that the establishment clause is the actual verbiage in the First Amendment. She has clearly just embraced a talking point about verbiage without even knowing what the actual verbiage is. Again, she can't have her cake and eat it, too. She wants to make verbiage the issue, then she should at least know what the verbiage is. Secondly, the reason why liberals AND conservatives (and most Americans, in fact) refer to the First Amendment of the Constitution as a reference to the separation of church and state idea is because it is upon the basis of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause that the Supreme Court has upheld the notion of a separation of church and state. No liberal I know thinks that the church and state can't dance, rather the real debate centers on what constitutes the "horizontal tango" in church/state relations -- in other words what kind of dance can be considered the state's sanction of the establishment of one religion over another. As for O'Rourke's characterization of the Tea Partiers holding that the church and state can't do the "horizontal tango," I wonder where he gets that notion, for I'd bet that many, if not most, Tea Partiers would certainly promote an idea of a constitutional right of the church and state even to do the horizontal tango - for the antithesis to the separation of church and state is the fusion/union of church and state. And that is a thought I've heard many fundamentalist Christian conservatives articulate. In other words, many of these folks, stuck on literalist verbiage that they tend to be, would think it's just fine if the state dedicated tax dollars exclusively to the funding of Christian churches and organizations (i.e. the state's fusion with an exclusively privileged church) as long as the state doesn't prevent the mere right of other religions to exist in this country. No declaration of an official state religion, no foul.