This is almost unreal. To think the Democrats actually think the Constitution is worth consideration. If you don’t see the hypocrisy please give me a call. (419-349-1406)
One satisfying feature of the impeachment drama is the outbreak among Democrats of enthusiasm for the Constitution. What a refreshing change from years past, when every time a conservative raised a constitutional point, the liberals would roll their eyes and complain that the right was trying to “weaponize” the national parchment. The left seemed to detest the Constitution and the white male nationalists who wrote it.
This attitude came to a head in 2011, after the Republicans won control of the House and decided to open the 112th Congress by reading the Constitution aloud on the floor. What a fracas broke out. The New York Times called it “a ghastly waste of time.” Ezra Klein, now editor at large of Vox, said on TV that the parchment “is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago.” It was ironic. Liberals, after all, had won some of their greatest causes by wielding the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. School desegregation, free speech, restrictions on public prayer, the right to abortion— these were among the liberal causes won by wrestling on the bedrock of the American constitution.
Never mind all that. Salon headlined a piece, “Let’s stop pretending the Constitution is sacred,” and illustrated it with a photo of a protest sign: “I Believe in the Constitution. I’m a ‘Right-Wing Extremist.’ ” The Daily Kos later called the reading the “most boring circus ever.”
What a difference a decade makes. Today you can’t open your browser without seeing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her camarilla kvelling about the Constitution. The first thing the House Judiciary Committee did was trot out four law professors to talk about not only the Constitution but—wait for it—the Founding Fathers’ original intent.
The impeachment effort has Pelosi and even leftist law professors touting the Founding Fathers’ intent.
Then Mrs. Pelosi marched up to a podium and instructed the Democratic caucus to go ahead and impeach President Trump. “When crafting the Constitution,” she said, “the Founders feared the return of a monarchy in America and, having just fought a war of independence, they specifically feared the prospect of a king-president corrupted by foreign influence.” Madison, she said, feared “that a president might betray his trust to foreign powers.”
She hauled in that old rascal Gouverneur Morris, the constitutional wordsmith. Morris feared, she said, that a president might be “bribed” to “betray his trust” and emphasized that “the people are the king.” She inadvertently likened Mr. Trump to George Washington, who was also accused of kingly airs.
She rattled on about George Mason, who “insisted that a president who procured his appointment in his first instance through improper and corrupt acts might repeat his guilt and return to power” and during the debate over impeachment asked: “Shall any man be above justice?” The speaker actually spoke of Mason, a major slaveholder, as acting “in his great wisdom.”
Mr. Trump’s wrongdoing, Mrs. Pelosi averred, “strikes at the very heart of our Constitution: a separation of powers, three coequal branches, each a check and balance on the other.” She may not have proffered any evidence, but it was nice to hear her quoting the Constitution in Republican terms. The Democrats have come a long way.
Mr. Lipsky is editor of The New York Sun.