Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ezra Klein on his Comments on the Constitution

Mr. Klein felt the need to clarify his comments about the consitution:

This morning, I gave a quick interview to MSNBC where I made, I thought, some fairly banal points on the GOP’s plan to honor the Constitution by having it read aloud on the House floor. Asked if it was a gimmick, I replied that it was, because, well, it is. It’s our founding document, not a spell that makes the traitors among us glow green. It’s also, I noted, a completely nonbinding act: It doesn’t impose a particular interpretation of the Constitution on legislators, and will have no practical impact on how they legislate.

The rather toxic implication of this proposal is that one side respects the Constitution and the other doesn’t. That’s bunk, of course: It’s arguments over how the Constitution should be understood, not arguments over whether it should be followed, that cleave American politics. The Constitution was written more than 223 years ago, and despite the confidence various people have in their interpretation of the text, smart scholars of good faith continue to disagree about it. And they tend to disagree about it in ways that support their political ideology. I rarely meet a gun-lover who laments the Second Amendment’s clear limits on bearing firearms, or someone who believes in universal health care but thinks the proper interpretation of the Commerce Clause doesn’t leave room for such a policy.

But my inbox suggests that my comments weren’t taken that way: The initial interpretation was that I’d said the Constitution is too complicated to understand because it was written a long time ago, and then, as the day went on, that I’d said the document itself is nonbinding. I went back and watched the clip — or at least the part someone clipped and sent me, which is above — and thought I was clear enough. But when a lot of people misunderstand you at once, the fault is usually yours. So if I was unclear: Yes, the Constitution is binding. No, it’s not clear which interpretation of the Constitution the Supreme Court will declare binding at any given moment. And no, reading the document on the floor of the House will not make the country more like you want it to be, unless your problem with the country is that you thought the Constitution should be read aloud on the floor of the House more frequently. In which case, well, you’re in luck!
Here is the part of what he said earlier in the day:  I couldn't find the entire interview. 


Teresa said...

I think that Ezra Klein knew what he was saying in the interview, got some flack for what he said, and backpedaled from his original statement. I think he really does believe that the Constitution is or shouldn't be binding.

Deekaman said...

I don't necessarily think Klein believes the Constitution is non-binding, but rather it is open to "interpretation" (i.e., making $#!t up). It says what it says. It was intended that way. Klein isn't evil...just wrong...and not as smart as he thinks he is.

Just a conservative girl said...

I kinda agree with you. I think much of his ideas is that the Constitution contains "negative rights" instead of rights. What they don't get is that is was designed that way. It was supposed be about what the government can't do as opposed to what it should do. he wants it to be the opposite.

Quite Rightly said...

I notice in his walk-back that Ezra skates over the fact that he can't count. The Constitution was written in the 18th century, which I gather qualifies as "more than 100 years ago." At his level of analysis, an error of only 50% passes for accuracy.

These Libs ignore history as though it never existed because they truly believe that they are smarter than everyone else who was ever born. That explains why they are so eager to change just about every structure developed by humankind for the last 6,000+ years (computer chips excepted).

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