Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 22, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tends to run into trouble when he addresses subjects he knows nothing about. Take the Constitution, for example.

Last week, for example, the conservative Iowan told a group of Republicans, "Americans want and Americans deserve the real original Constitution: A strong military, lower taxes, jobs through the private enterprise, border security, no apologizing for America. And most importantly, respect for life."

Ian Millhiser explained how truly ridiculous this is.

Grassley's call for a return to the "original Constitution" -- a term that normally refers to the Constitution before it was amended -- is downright terrifying if he actually means it. Slavery was permitted under the original Constitution; women and minorities were denied the right to vote; and basic human rights such as the freedom of speech or the right to choose your own faith were unprotected. Although, to be fair, it's much more likely that Grassley simply didn't understand what he was saying when he claimed that Americans deserve this "real original Constitution."

That's probably a safe assumption. Grassley has a tendency to simply make up whatever he thinks sounds good at the time -- remember the "sheer idiocy" he offered during the health care debate? -- which leads him to think the "real original Constitution" includes provisions that exist only in his imagination.

Oh, and did I mention that Grassley will likely be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee if Republicans take back the Senate?

On a related note, Grassley also recently explained how he changed his mind about the individual mandate in health care policy. After having supported the idea for years, the Iowa senator said last week that he came to believe the opposite in "April or May" of 2009.

In June 2009, Grassley told Fox News, "I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates.... There isn't anything wrong with it." In August 2009, Grassley argued that an individual mandate represents "individual responsibility and even Republicans believe in individual responsibility."

By any reasonable measure, Chuck Grassley just has no idea what he's talking about.

Steve Benen 4:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Comments

Personally, I believe Senators should be counted as three-fifths of an Idiot.

Posted by: Bill H. on September 22, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Wait... the "original Constitution" didn't have the Second Amendment, either! I think it's time the Tea Party held an armed rally outside of Grassley's office. With "blood of tyrants" signs. Any day now. No? How about now?

Posted by: freeproton on September 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked I tell you, this is the man who at his town halls talked about killing grandma, and told his people he was going to stop health care reform while working on the reform package.

Posted by: js on September 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't just Grassley being wrong about the COTUS (offer better abbr., please!) Few of what he mentioned is forbidden at least post-Amendments. But think: no space program, no Smithsonian, and even the Lewis-Clark Expedition is likely not authorized by the Constitution. At least the JB Society is honest and called NASA "socialism in a space suit", but for most cons the whole idea is to cherry-pick what you do and don't like (similar as for Biblical teachings, logical consistency, personal morality, etc.)

The public might be more inclined not to vote for such wackos if they heard more of what they said, that needs to be done very energetically. What does it say, that such people get so many votes already?

Posted by: neil b on September 22, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Of the six things he lists, only one, lower taxes, is even arguably addressed in the original Constitution. (And even that's a stretch: what the original Constitution required was that direct taxes be collected in proportion to a state's population, not that these taxes be "low", however you define that term.)

Strong military? There's nothing about the size of the military in the Constitution.

Jobs through private enterprise? Show me where you find that in the Constitution.

Border security? There were no restrictions on immigration to the US until the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.

"No apologizing for America"? WTF?

Grassley's speech is straight out of the Onion.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-passionate-defender-of-what-he-imagines-c,2849/

Posted by: Brock on September 22, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Grassley has been the stupidest man in the Senate ever since Wayne Dullard retired.

Posted by: SquareState on September 22, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

The Founders were afraid of a strong military, many were opposed to a standing. That's why the Constitution forbids the military to be funded for more than two years.

Posted by: martin on September 22, 2010 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, the Constitution was drafted to prevent a strong military. That's why under Article I, Section 8, the Congress cannot make an appropriation of money to raise and support an army for a term longer than two years. For more, see http://politicalinquirer.com/2008/05/27/the-congress-holds-the-war-powers/.

Posted by: kk on September 22, 2010 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

That was supposed to be "standing army." kk's post certainly filled n the blank;>

Posted by: martin on September 22, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Grassley:Americans want and Americans deserve the real original Constitution: A strong military, lower taxes, jobs through the private enterprise, border security, no apologizing for America. And most importantly, respect for life.

He forgot about only wealthy White men who were landowners could vote.

Posted by: Joe Friday on September 22, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

If a dollar was paid into the national debt every time someone - correctly - described something a Republican or Republicans did as "either lying or dumb", we wouldn't need taxes anymore and we'd have a healthy surplus.

But in this reality, they're predicted to win this November. *head-slap!*

Posted by: Kiweagle on September 22, 2010 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter what Grassley says, what matters is what Grassley and others in the right-wing movement BELIEVE, the "truths" they treat as a faith. Modern conservatism has become a religion, facts are irrelevant.

Posted by: -syzygy- on September 22, 2010 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'll go Grassley one better: Let's go back to when MY ancestors came over here, circa 1680. If I recall correctly (my memory is fading after 3 centuries), we left the Mother Isle because of rules and regulations and churchiness. . .

Posted by: DAY on September 22, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Bill H., senators should be counted as 5/3 of an idiot.

Posted by: Danny on September 22, 2010 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK
By any reasonable measure, Chuck Grassley just has no idea what he's talking about.
But those craaaaaaazy Iowans just love how he talks. Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 22, 2010 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

I believe he knows what he said, and believes it. It's easy to be dismissive of this hard-right turn, but the puppetmasters really to want what Grassley and others are talking about these days. We dismiss them at our peril.

Posted by: Felicia531 on September 22, 2010 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

:...it's much more likely that Grassley simply didn't understand what he was saying when he claimed that Americans deserve this "real original Constitution." - Millhiser

"That's probably a safe assumption." - Mr. Benen

There's something sort of Stockholm Syndromish in the way that the left grants indulgence and understanding to the teapubs, while if this were reversed, the 'pubs would just go for the throat and hang on.

I don't know what real potential there is in a statement like that to make Grassley uncomfortable by highlighting it, but he said it, make him eat it.

The a-hole's been a senator forever. If he really doesn't "understand", he damn well should. And granting him a Get Out of Stupidity Free card by giving him a pass because of cluelessness or spaced outness doesn't help people latch on to what a destructive, duplicitous jackass he is.

Posted by: burro on September 22, 2010 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Grassley argued that an individual mandate represents "individual responsibility and even Republicans believe in individual responsibility."

Yeah, sure they do... just leave them out of that requirement. Republicans believe in "personal responsibility", but only *For Other People*, not themselves.

Actually, this is how I've been determining people's political "orientation" for the past few years. Willing to hog all the credit but nothing, ever, is your fault? You're a Republican, certain-sure.

Posted by: exlibra on September 22, 2010 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans should have to throw money in a bucket every time they bullshit about the Constitution.

Posted by: Bob M on September 22, 2010 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

SteveB said: "Grassley has a tendency to simply make up whatever he thinks sounds good at the time".

I submit that it's possible to put the last name of any republican currently in the US Congress or running for it in place of "Grassley".

Or any fox news talking head's last name for that matter.

But I am obviously biased against dumb butts.

Posted by: mickster99 on September 22, 2010 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

:...it's much more likely that Grassley simply didn't understand what he was saying when he claimed that Americans deserve this "real original Constitution." - Millhiser

"That's probably a safe assumption." - Mr. Benen
~~~
Sen Robert Byrd, defender of the Constitution, is probably rolling over in his grave at his former colleague's statement.

As for stupid, should there be a contest between Grassley, Sessions and DeMint for most stupid? Anyone else?

Posted by: Hannah on September 23, 2010 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

I think Millheiser has missed the real point. The point is not that Grassley is arguing for a return to legalized slavery and abolishing women's suffrage, it's that all but one of these things...

"'...A strong military, lower taxes, jobs through the private enterprise, border security, no apologizing for America.'"

...were not in the original Constitution in the first place. And, they're not in it now.

Posted by: Perspecticus on September 23, 2010 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Respect for life" is not in the COTUS, either. Before the mid-1800s, abortion was not regulated.

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