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October 08, 2009


While I disagree that the Second Amendment has anything to do with preventing treason, the supposed smear of Pelosi is that she's a "domestic enemy of the Constitution."

So let's set the wayback machine to two years ago, when the New York Times editorialized, "Ever since 9/11, we have watched Republican lawmakers help Mr. Bush shred the Constitution in the name of fighting terrorism." The notion that Bush and Cheney were shredding the Constitution was a popular meme among Democratic office holders and pundits. Is being an enemy of the Constitution more of a smear than shredding the Constitution? I don't think so.

For your convenience, here are all the times Brendan criticized the charges that Bush and Cheney were shredding the Constitution: { }. I guess he was too busy finding GOP attacks on dissent.

I always enjoy Rob's comments, but I want to point out that there's an important difference in these statements. Saying someone is "shredding" the Constitution is a loaded way of expressing the opinion that their actions are contrary to some constitutional principle. It's done by both sides and I've never criticized Democrats or Republicans for doing it. Saying someone is a "domestic enemy of the constitution" -- the founding document of our government -- is another way of calling them a traitor. That's why the president and the military swear to protect it in their oaths.

Rep. Braun's attack on Pelosi wasn't exactly an attack on dissent. She wasn't dissenting from anything. Braun attacked her because she holds a certain position regarding the 2nd Amendment, a position which he disagrees with. I suppose one might claim that Pelosi was dissenting from Braun's position, but that's not what's typically meant by "attack on dissent."

I agree with Brendan that it's unfair to call her an enemy of the entire Constitution. She's merely an enemy of a single provision. Of course, as Rob points out, similar hyperbole against President Bush was equally unfair.

An enemy of the Constitution is opposed to the Constitution. Someone could be an enemy of the Constitution who's merely philosophically opposed to the Constitution. Shredding the Constitution, on the other hand, is an affirmative action. It goes beyond philosophy, beyond inclination, beyond intention. But we need not argue whether shredding the Constitution is worse than being an enemy of the Constitution; it's certainly no better. And it follows that charging someone with shredding the Constitution is no less offensive than charging someone with being an enemy of the Constitution.

For Brendan, when someone is accused of shredding the Constitution, that doesn't mean the whole document, just some constitutional principle. But when someone is an enemy of the Constitution, that means the entire document--"the founding document of our government." And it's a way of calling them a traitor. Whereas someone who shreds the Constitution is apparently not a traitor.

Brendan notes he's never criticized Democrats or Republicans for saying someone shredded the Constitution. Funny, I can't seem to remember that charge ever being used by Republicans against Democrats, but perhaps Brendan's got a better memory than I do. Or perhaps attributing this charge to Republicans is just an effort at being extra inclusive.

I have nothing but respect for Brendan, but I think he has a blind spot to the double standard he applies to criticism of smears. The contortions he goes to to justify different interpretations of "enemy of the Constitution" and "shredding the Constitution" are stark evidence of this mindset. I make these points not to be argumentative but rather in the belief that once Brendan understands the prism through which he perceives smears, he'll be better able to achieve the objectivity he aspires to.

Does your cheek hurt from pushing your tongue into it when you chide Brendan about his objectivity, Rob?

"But when someone is an enemy of the Constitution...it's a way of calling them a traitor."

It is if in the very sentence before you use the "enemy of the Constitution" line, you say that in the past, you took an oath to uphold the document against such enemies. Funny how in three separate posts, one cannot find one mention from either Rob or David of that part of Broun's statement. I don't remember any "Democratic office holders and pundits" who used the "shredding the Constitution" line against Republicans stating that they once took an oath to defend the country against Constitution shredders.

Anyway, Broun's criticism of Pelosi was more sweeping than the only specific "but what about Democrats using the 'shredding the constitution'" example that Rob could come up with (the NYT editorial). The editorial tagged Republican lawmakers and President Bush as anti-Constitution in a specific context (their efforts in fighting terrorism) while Broun clearly was pegging Pelosi as anti-Constitution IN GENERAL.

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