Friday, December 31, 2010

The House Reads The Constitution

...At least that's the plan, come 6 January. Our local newpaper-ish publication actually headlined the story last week; just this morning, even NPR got around to noticing that the incoming majority party plans to read the entire text of the Constitution of the United States, out loud, including every amendment.

It's a very good start, though a little alarming at the same time -- something like your heart surgeon showing up at the OR with a stack of medical textbooks, commenting, "About time I had a look at these!"

Will it help? Maybe. (Sadly, Bernie Saunders being a Senator, I'm not going to get to see him on C-SPAN, hands over his ears, chanting "no-no-no" as the words are read; and Dennis Kuccinch is serenely confident his very Reddest dreams can be tortured from the text -- with a smile, 'cos he's a deeply nice man. Dammit).

The new crew are also promising a move that will make them work a bit harder: every new bill will be required to include language citing which part of the Constitution gives Congress the power to meddle in whatever the bill covers. A good idea, though even if it has a longer life than most politician's promises (a bit less than a droplet of water on a sizzling-hot griddle), it could easily become a phatic bit of hand-waving over the "necessary and proper" and "general Welfare" clauses.

On the other hand, it means the Congressbeings -- or at least their staffs -- will have to do a bit more digging than required to produce a press handout extolling the virtues of their next Five Year Plan. The more time they spend doing homework for one bill, the fewer they can turn out in a given span of time -- and that may well be the best news of all!

12 comments:

Joel said...

You made me look up a word! I never heard "phatic" before.

Now I'm richer.

cybrus said...

That last sentence is the key - I don't expect the congress-weasels to treat these as anything other than stunts, but I'll hold back my judgement on the off chance it actually has substance.

George said...

The 'General Welfare' Clause is always spoken as such. The entire phrase is "PROMOTE the General Welfare", NOT ENFORCE!! e.g. - you should eat your veggies, NOT, you MUST eat your veggies! There IS a difference!

Tango Juliet said...

Wouldn't it be really cool if they meant what they said this time?

perlhaqr said...

I just want 'em to read every bill, out loud, before it gets voted on.

D.W. Drang said...

Considering the big fuss Al Franken made about always having the pocket Constitution he was issued on his person, I don't expect this to do much good.

In the short run, anyway. Long term, maybe.

WV: trati. plutral for...?

Joseph said...

If incumbents keep getting replaced by upset citizens, perhaps it will actually have a positive effect. At least, it may make a few officials actually THINK about what they were really elected for. Not holding my breath, though.

Ed Rasimus said...

Read is good. Understand would be better. Abide by, conform with, limit to? Priceless!

Sarah said...

I want to tune in just to see which Critters can read and which ones can't. And which ones get all frothy mouthed over certain bits, like the Fourth and Tenth Amendments, and which ones don't.

If we're lucky, we might even see a critter's head explode.

D.W. Drang said...

All congresscritters--nay, all elected AND appointed officials--should be issued a copy of the Constitution, preferably one the annotated versions published by the Heritage Foundation or similar, with THERE WILL BE A TEST printed in large letters on each page.

The TEST is on Election Day.

George said...

I'm certain Stuart Smalley's copy of the Constitution is like W.C. Fields reading the Bible: "Looking for Loopholes".

Roberta X said...

He and Humpty-Dumpty share a similar attitude about what words mean,