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Tilting at Windmills

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November 5, 2009

DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY.... A variety of Republican leaders spoke on the steps of the Capitol today, addressing a crowd that local law enforcement officials put at around 4,000, all of whom gathered to rally against fixing the health care system. Some of the speakers, however, ran into a little trouble.

Take Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, for example. Akin, who's demonstrated more than once that he doesn't really know what he's talking about when it comes to health care policy, decided to devote his remarks to the subject of religion and American history. For some reason, Akin argued that the pilgrims gave the country "her first constitution," which doesn't make any sense.

Akin proceeded to praise for the Pledge of Allegiance: "As we renew our commitment to the red, white, and blue, let us with boldness proclaim the fact that we are one nation under God. It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this ... and it drives the liberals crazy." (Yes, Republican members of Congress now believe the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited to annoy Americans they don't like. Classy.)

The problem, though, is that Akin initiated the joint recitation, and then flubbed the words. In Akin's version, it reads, "...and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all." The audience knew the actual version, which led Akin to lose his place and stumble.

Almost as embarrassing was House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who decided to wave his pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution around. Boehner, with voice raised, pledged to "stand here with our Founding Fathers, who wrote in the pre-amble: 'We hold these truths to be self evident ..."

In our reality, that's the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, not the U.S. Constitution.

Now, I'll gladly concede that these were fairly inconsequential errors, which were part of a fairly inconsequential right-wing rally. But the flubs were nevertheless a reminder -- self-righteous conservatives, who enjoy nothing more than lecturing others on patriotism, should hesitate on using the Constitution and the Pledge as some kind of partisan weapon, especially if they don't know what they're talking about.

Steve Benen 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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"...and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

With the secession movement going strong in Texas and the Conservative party breaking up his party's base in NY-23, I think we can understand why "indivisible" doesn't spring readily to mind for Republicans, yes?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on November 5, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Declaration doesn't have a Preamble. What Boehner was quoting opens the second paragraph.

And ya might have mentioned the word that Akin missed, "indivisible", cuz it is sort of on point, no?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 5, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this ... and it drives the liberals crazy."

Yeah, 'cause that's just how Lincoln said it in the Gettysburg Address.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on November 5, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

It is always enjoyable to have the wingnuts' errors pointed out. Keep it up!

Posted by: Bob M on November 5, 2009 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

These people are stupid to the core. Misquoting documents they swear they know and adore. Appealing to fear and ignorance by displaying their own. And these man and woman are leaders? How pathetic they are. And stupid to the core...

Posted by: BigRenman on November 5, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

It actually does drive me crazy that the pledge contains the words 'one nation under god,' but that's only because I am an American and know this country stands for religious tolerance, and the pledge shouldn't exclude those with many or those with no gods.

Posted by: doubtful on November 5, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

"one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all"

Freudian slip?

Posted by: Marko on November 5, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

he was referring to the Mayflower Compact
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayflower_Compact

Posted by: kp on November 5, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Since Todd Aiken is already making my head explode by misquoting the Pledge of Allegiance, let’s correct a couple of his other misstatements today:

The Pilgrims did not write the Constitution. The first group arrived in 1620. The Constitutional Convention didn’t convene until 1787. Do the math, Todd.

Ben Franklin's call for prayer at the constitutional convention was rejected. That is a very clear message from the founding fathers about their view of the proper place of prayer.

And while we're discussing Ben Franklin, don't forget that he was a deist, not a Christian.

Posted by: b on November 5, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Akin was right about the pilgrims giving the country its first constitution. That is if you agree that the Plymouth colony was the foundation. And their constitution was the Mayflower Compact. Really they were drawing up laws for their congregation to follow but since more than half of the company were outsiders recruited to finance the trip they had to accomodate them too. I think it's generally regarded as the first attempt at a constitution. So I think he was right about that. Otherwise, carry on.

Posted by: wister on November 5, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

It would be really fun Democratic Politics if Alan Grayson organized an event supporting HCR and proceeded to occupy Michelle Bachman's office while reading the names of the people who have died from lack of health insurance and access to affordable care.

Posted by: bcinaz on November 5, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I heard Hannity claim is was 20,000. So the wingnuts seem to have reduced the multiplier from about 100 down to 5.

Posted by: Daryl P Cobranchi on November 5, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

So congresscritters are dumb, uneducated, self-important assholes. What else is new?

The incident reminds me of Stephen Colbert's riff on the The Commandments, when he asked various Fundy Snake Handlers to actually name them. And they couldn't. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 5, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Charitably, I suppose Akin might have been referring to the Mayflower Compact.

Still, this puts me in mind of a great quote from A Fish Called Wanda:

"Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not 'Every man for himself.' And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up."

Posted by: Brock on November 5, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

But ... but ... but OBAMA USES A TELEPROMPTER!!!1!!1!!!

Posted by: Steve M. on November 5, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

For all the: U.S. is a Christian nation, read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. At least half of the "Founding Father" were Freemasons, who do not profess to a particular religion, but only declare a single universal power. Thus, members of any religion may belong without compromising their own particular profession of faith. Of course, if you believe yours is the only true religion, you are out of luck.

I learned the POA before the under god part was added, and did not recite it differently afterwards.

Posted by: st john on November 5, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

The reason these jerks love to say, "In God We Trust", it's printed on the money they rake in from special Interests. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 5, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

The Mayflower Compact is arguably the first constitution *in* the United States but by no means did the Plymouth colonists give this country "her first constitution." Their compact pledges themselves to England.

Posted by: Grumpy on November 5, 2009 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

As a descendent of people who settled the Plymouth Colony, it really pains me to see these jerks misuse it in this way. Something tells me that organizing and stoking up large mobs to attack the ligitimacy of elected institutions and intimidate the colony's leaders is NOT something that would have gone over very well in Plymouth. A bunch of loud, anarchic, self-indulgent jerks did come over on one of the later boats - and after they wore out their welcome by getting drunk and ticking off the native Americans, Governor Bradford sent them right back to England (after a brief military episode where they had to be rounded up at gunpoint). I think that is the true historical parallel here.

Posted by: Bokonon on November 5, 2009 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I remember the addition "under God" back in grade school in the 50s. It seems to me that there was a comma between 'one Nation' and 'under God'. This changes the meaning to a list separated by commas. Is this my imagination? When did the comma get lost?

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Posted by: anomaly on November 5, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

How did they fit 3 million people into Nancy Pelosi's office?

Posted by: mars on November 5, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

For these guys, the Constitution and the Pledge are not collections of words used to express thoughts and ideas; no, they are talismans -- sacred objects to prove their fealty to God and country, and to ward off evil spirits. Talismans are to be brandished, not understood.

Posted by: jvwalt on November 5, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

The Mayflower Compact is not a constitution, but rather a social contract signed by all aboard who would live in community in a new land.

Indivisable has been in the pledge a lot longer than "under God" and I wonder why a loss of memory would leave out so dear an observation for the preserverence of our way of life.

And Boehner's allusion comes from a revolutionary document, not a doc. of governance.

Franklin and several other founding framers were Deists - followers of Deism - a religious doctrine that does not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, but rather as the human who taught his followers the highest moral standings any human being could embrace in a lifetime.

Jefferson was also a Deist, and wrote his own version of the New Testament (The Jefferson Bible) where he expunged all passages referring to the supernatural or miracles, and added ethical manuscripts from such historical figures as Spinoza.

Yes,those Teabaggers can't seem to make any sensible connections to a reality based community - just listen to them espousing such pride in being a teabagger!

Finally, as for a constitution, just look to the Iroquois and the Huron as well-organized confederations long before any European stepped foot on what they considered to be a "New World!" -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 5, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

With liberty and therapy for all!

Posted by: The Tea Bagging Trollop on November 5, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

He can visit both documents at the Archives down the street, to see the different Preambles ... in PERSON.

Or, just go to the American Art Gallery to look at this simplified version of the Constitution's preamble.

Posted by: ajw93 on November 5, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

The old version was: "I pledge a lesion to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republican Richard Stands, one naked individual with liver tea and just this for all."

The new version is ". . .one nation underground with Lipton Tea and cupcakes for all."

I thought everyone knew that.

Posted by: T-Rex on November 5, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

As we renew our commitment to the red, white, and blue, let us with boldness proclaim the fact that we are not neo-Nazis and Klansmen. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this ... and it drives the conservatives crazy.

Posted by: Queequeg on November 5, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

A crowd of about 4,000? That few Real Americans?

Please keep us informed as this number is inflated, I need a good laugh.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on November 5, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I strolled past the crowd today at around 12:50, about an hour after the shindig supposedly started and there were still speakers going strong. If the crowd was up to 4000 at noon, there must have been a stampede out of there because I didn't see half that many people. Rough estimate of course, but there just weren't that many people. Out on the West side of the Capitol, in the area that held 24,000 ticket holders for Obama's inauguration, the space was maybe 10% - 15% filled, but subtracting out the passersby (like me), lunchbreak hill staff, and more than a few counter demonstrators, I doubt that the demo drew a full 2000. It just wasn't that big - ten rows back the space between people was enough to drive a truck through.

Posted by: majun on November 5, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

self-righteous conservatives, who enjoy nothing more than lecturing others on patriotism, should hesitate on using the Constitution and the Pledge as some kind of partisan weapon...

But more importantly, were they wearing flag lapel pins?
What a bunch of clowns.

Posted by: Bobo Teh Clown on November 5, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

The American RightWing has long had a problem grasping that the Declaration of Independence is not a governing document.

Posted by: Joe Friday on November 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Tod Akin...Missouri's embarrassment can't be blamed too much. After all Davy Crockett still has his blackberry.

Look at the condescending faces of those on the platform who stand against the majority of Americans and attempt to do everything in their power to thwart the will of the majority. The only government they believe in is one they control...they cannot stand to allow those who disagree with them govern. It's corporate day on the capitol steps and all the loonies are here.

"We should do it because it drives Liberals crazy"...classy.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 5, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Of course "indivisible" was a reference to the Civil War. You'd think Republicans would rail about TBHAT one.

Posted by: Daddy Love on November 5, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

But of course, average, salt-of-the-earth Americans like Akin and Boehnert would naturally get tongue-tied when speaking before a crowd of 4000 fellow patriots, and perhaps even get their Constitution and Declaration mixed up. If you can go before a large crowd and recite perfectly the Pledge of Allegiance and Preamble with confidence, you obviously have spent too much time practicing speechmaking and not enough time paying attention to the needs of average Americans.

;)

Posted by: dr sardonicus on November 5, 2009 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

The Mayflower Compact is arguably the first constitution *in* the United States but by no means did the Plymouth colonists give this country "her first constitution."

Maybe on the North American Continent, but there was no United States for quite some time.

The Pilgrims Paradigm (as I heard some historian refer to it) is one of the bigger myths of our founding, probably because New Englanders wrote most of early histories. The Mayflower Compact had little to no influence on the founding fathers of The United States, and very little influence at all outside of New England. They were also pretty short lived at that.

Posted by: martin on November 5, 2009 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

With liberty and justice for all! Except gay people and liberals. But, you know, everyone else (That agrees with us). -The Republican Party

Posted by: tim on November 5, 2009 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

The pledge of alliegence (written by a socialist in 1892)originallly used the phrase, "one nation indivisible" as an explicit repudiation of "state's rights" and the Cofederacy. One of the many things wrong with adding "under God" to the pledge was that it de-empahsized the "indivisible" part.

A quote from Francis Bellamy, the author of the pledge:

"It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution... with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people...
"The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands'. ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?
"Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity'. No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all..."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bellamy

Posted by: rea on November 5, 2009 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Still like the fact that Rock Concerts are bigger than their "rally" tells us something. So much for Showing the Congress where the people stand.
Oh wait, they did. The People do NOT stand with those idiots.
As their rallies dwindle, so will their power...

Posted by: Lisa Harrigan on November 5, 2009 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

I hope these folks didn't have to take an unpaid day off work to demonstrate how much they love their nation.

Posted by: Breezeblock on November 5, 2009 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

re: The Mayflower Compact. For anyone who wants a clear-eyed pop history takedown of the Pilgrims myth, I highly recommend reading Tony Horwitz's "A Voyage Long and Strange." And what martin said.

Posted by: lou on November 5, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

I have only one comment today:

What Digby sez...

And this is what she says:

"Things are starting to turn very dark."

Posted by: neill on November 5, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

He left out "indivisible", because that's one thing the wingnuts want: a divided nation.

Posted by: labradog on November 5, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Bohner and Akin are prime examples that give rise to the degrogatory slight, "good enough for government work."

Posted by: sparrow on November 5, 2009 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't the Iroquois Confederation establish the first constitution in North America, beating the Pilgrims by a few centuries?

Posted by: 2Manchu on November 5, 2009 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

anomaly wrote "I remember the addition 'under God' back in grade school in the 50s. It seems to me that there was a comma between 'one Nation' and 'under God'."

I, too, recall learning the new version, without a comma, in school. But that classroom was one of the places where "one Nation under God" was recited as a single phrase. Large groups instantly added the spoken pause (comma).

Google helped me find a scholarly report of the deliberations about the comma in 1954. Search for "under God" here: http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/1999/May99/lynn.html

Posted by: Ward on November 5, 2009 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps he doesn't believe in the "indivisible" part. Seeing as the Republican party is so set on being divisive. On the other hand, it does seem odd to keep referring positively to constitutions (or compacts?) that create that indivisibility in his address...:)

Posted by: catherineD on November 6, 2009 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

william safire once wrote a column about people mishearing words. it was called "i led the pigeons to the flag."
safire was a right-wing tool, but his columns on langauage were usually pretty good.

Posted by: mellowjohn on November 6, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks Ward for finding this bit of minutia. I guess in class we just put in the pause after 'nation' and I just heard a comma that was not in the official version.

In God We Trust (all others pay cash)

Posted by: anomaly on November 6, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think one of the numbskulls was correct. As I recall from school, the pilgrims did meet in the Cape Cod harbor just before they debarked, and agreed on a sort of constitution called the Mayflower Compact. I don't remember the details, just that the main point was the pilgrims' agreement to obey their king-appointed leader. That might qualify as the country's first constitution, although there were comparable (and more democratic) treaties and compacts among Native American tribes as well. Still, unlike most of yesterday's "discourse," it wasn't a totally stupid observation.

Posted by: Brownell on November 6, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Menora on March 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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