...for additions to the "For Dummies" series of books. We can start with The Constitution for Republicans, since it does not appear that many of them have ever actually read it--or if they have, they've failed to retain any of the salient points. As evidence, I present the following, from the peroration to Rush Limbaugh's closing plenary address to the Conservative
Political Action Public Asshattery Convention, last Saturday in Washington, D.C., in which he was attempting to argue that President Obama's policies represent a "bastardization" of the Constitution:
We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. [Applause] We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness. [Applause]
For the purposes of comparison, I herewith present the actual Preamble to the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.
Sorry, Rush, but of the words you thought were in there, only "Liberty" actually appears--and not in the context you wanted. What you were looking for was the Declaration of Independence, which, of course, you also got wrong. Here's the pertinent passage in the original:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
"Freedom" is not in there, guys. But note that "Government" is. Ooops. The Limboob, and all the boobettes who stood and mindlessly cheered his pompous pontifications at CPAC should all have to go back and retake high-school civics. Oh, and the leaders of the Republican Party might want to rethink all that groveling at his feet they're doing, lest they embarrass themselves even further than they already have.
As for John Yoo and Jay Bybee, they should both have to repeat law school, after the U.S. Department of Justice yesterday released several memoranda which they wrote for the Bush administration in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 and which were subsequently repudiated. Apparently neither of them has ever heard of the concept of enumerated powers--or of Richard Nixon, who was the last president to attempt to claim that when the president does something it is ipso facto not illegal, with famously unhappy results. For the president.
Then there is the Alaska Attorney General's Office, who went before the Supreme Court yesterday to argue that it would be an infringement on their state's rights if they actually had to allow a black man access to evidence which he claims was improperly used to convict him of a crime he now claims not to have committed. According to Ken Rosenstein, Alaska's assistant attorney general, the state should only have to spend money on people who deserve it. And since Alaska has already gone to the trouble and expense of convicting William Osborne, apparently they don't feel that they should have to spend any more money on him to prove they got it right, dont'cha know? Also. [Wink.]
It seems somebody forgot to read Brown v. Board of Education while in law school (or high school, for that matter), to say nothing of the bazillions of cases that have followed down the road it laid out on our legal landscape. So I think The Constitution for Republicans has the potential to be a mega-bestseller. Moreover, I think President Obama should seriously consider asking Congress to add a provision to the stimulus package to require such a book to be written and printed, and then sent at government expense to every registered Republican in the country.
The next book I'd suggest adding to the "For Dummies" series, however, is going to have a much more limited distribution. It's Politics for Illinois Politicians, and the guy who really needs to read it (along with the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People) is Roland Burris. I suppose a few of his remaining supporters might benefit from a glance as well, given that there (a) are still a few people who support Roland Burris who are not named Roland Burris, and (b) that at least a few of those people seem to believe that there is some kind of racial quota laid down in the Constitution regarding the distribution of Senate seats.
Burris never should have accepted the appointment from Rod Blagojevich in the first place. Having done so, he should have been up-front about every part of that process--including, by the by, that salient bit about how the ex-governor (or his brother) tried to get Burris to hit up his friends for some cash on Blagojevich's behalf. Since Burris did neither of those things, I must reluctantly agree with our current governor, Pat Quinn, that we should stop waiting around for Burris to do the right thing. He's shown absolutely no evidence of being capable of any such thing to date--if he were capable of doing the right thing by the voters of Illinois, he'd have either declined the position in the first place or stepped down from it by now. Given that he's still clinging to that seat as if it were the only thing between him and a raging hurricane, I don't see any mere mortal being able to move him out of the Senate chamber: especially since he's just launched a website that could indicate an intention to run for the seat in next year's election, despite having apparently promised Senator Dick Durbin last week that he wouldn't.
However, if the Senate Democrats were all forced to read Developing and Maintaining Your Moral Backbone, which is my third and final recommendation for the "For Dummies" series, they might actually get around to doing the heavy lifting required to expel Burris from among their number, instead of forcing Illinois to limp along for the next eighteen months with one-and-some-fraction senators, and leaving it to the voters to kick Burris to the curbside where he belongs with the rest of the garbage left to us by Rod Blagojevich. (I can't believe, by the by, that Blagojevich just got a six-figure advance for a book, due out in October, in which he's going to prove--or so he says--his innocence, once and for all. I thought only J. K. Rowling got those kinds of advances for works of fiction anymore.)