Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 9, 2011

BACHMANN'S CASE FOR UNTOUCHABLE 'FOUNDING DOCUMENTS'.... There was quite a gathering at the National Press Club late yesterday for an event called the "Tea Party Town Hall," organized by a group called the Tea Party Express. A variety of Republican lawmakers showed up to sing the praises of their activist base, and repeat the usual far-right talking points.

I was especially interested, though, in what Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) had to say. After the usual palaver -- did you know Democrats want to extinguish the "torch of liberty and freedom"? -- the bizarre lawmaker offered a noteworthy take on the Constitution.

Asked via a Web questioner whether her Tea Party rhetoric might be considered divisive, Bachmann said that "far from being divisive in any way, what we're trying to do is bring together a great unity." The source of that unity? The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, documents about which differing interpretations are apparently of little use. "Our founding documents, they cannot be improved upon," said Bachmann, giving an almost Biblical rendition of the work product of the nation's first generation of politicians.

At the risk of being overly literal about this, I'm a little surprised Bachmann believes the Constitution "cannot be improved upon." Isn't the right's line that the Constitution must be improved upon?

It's why congressional Republicans push radical constitutional concepts that were discredited generations ago -- because they're unsatisfied with the existing legal framework of the American government.

It's why congressional Republicans sponsored 42 constitutional amendments in the last Congress, and are likely to do the same in this Congress. (Indeed, Bachmann is already sponsoring a constitutional amendment of her own.)

It's why the new conservative agenda is focused on scrapping the 17th Amendment, repealing the 16th Amendment, getting rid of at least one part of the 14th Amendment, and "restoring" the "original" 13th Amendment.

If the Constitution "cannot be improved upon," maybe Bachmann and her ilk can leave it alone?

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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There seems to be a lot of "I was for it, before I was against it" going on in Republican circles.

Besides, wasn't the Bill of Rights- chiseled on stone tablets- handed down to George Washington by God?

Posted by: DAY on February 9, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Michele Bachmann is not a dick. Like her soul sister Sarah Palin, however, she is a delusional idiot.

I would love, love, LOVE to see the Republicans run a Palin/Bachmann ticket in 2012.

Posted by: David Bailey on February 9, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"If the Constitution "cannot be improved upon," maybe Bachmann and his cohorts can leave it alone?"
Maybe if they'd read the whole thing last month, they might understand it better?

Michele Bach-to-the-past-mann.

She's a Minnesota TimberMILF!

I'd say she got elected based on her looks, but then how does one explain NC's Congresswoman Fox?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 9, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

The original Constitution, plus Amendment II, should not have been tinkered with.

Posted by: Todd for VT House on February 9, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"Our founding documents, they cannot be improved upon," said Bachmann

Unalloyed nonsense. The very founders she claims to revere improved upon the newly-ratified Constitution as one of their first orders of business, by passing the first ten amendments.

Indeed, the fact that the Constitution specifies an amendment process at all suggests that the Founders knew full well that it'd need to be "improved" from time to time.

Posted by: Gregory on February 9, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Right-wing rhetoric must be understood in the context of its paranoia. Everything America is perfect. Except for half the people living here. There's never been a greater country on Earth. Except it's been brought to its knees by some ragtag hippies. God loves America more than any other nation ever. Except they won't let God in public schools. Either Michele Bachmann is blowing dog whistles or she's simply one more right-wing hysteric screaming to herself behind the bus station.

Posted by: walt on February 9, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I have a feeling the FOUNDING FATHERS would puke in their porridge if they knew how deified they were these days. They were white men who knew they were making mistakes as they wrote the founding documents. That's why they wrote a process for adding amendments! Jeebus!

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on February 9, 2011 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

David Bailey,
"I would love, love, LOVE to see the Republicans run a Palin/Bachmann ticket in 2012."

"Natasha, ve must register to wote, so ve can wote for "Moose and Squirrelly!"

Eez fastest way to take down country, no?"


Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 9, 2011 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to think that Bachmann is genuinely mentally ill.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 9, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

In the Tea Party view, they are just trying to "clarify" what the Constitution really means so that bleeding heart liberal lawyers can't twist it to mean what they don't want it to mean. And of course they have special insights into what the clarifications should be because they know exactly what the constitution means even when it doesn't say so. The words in the constitution may be confusing so it's good for all of us that they tell us what it really means because it's perfectly clear to them.

Posted by: tomb on February 9, 2011 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

"But Boris, you said same thing about wote for W. Bush, no? Twice!"

"OK, Natasha, I vass vrong! But only by dees much!
'Moose and Squirrelly' vill surely make country easy for Fearless Leader to defeat!"

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 9, 2011 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

ok. then Bachmann will have to resign as her position, as a woman with no right to vote, is illegitimate.

Posted by: k l m on February 9, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

She never ceases to amaze. It isn't worth the bother that she rejects not only facts but also logic. The Perfect Constitution contains provisions for amendment. It it were already perfect, that article would be a defect. That is a logical contradiction.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on February 9, 2011 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I used to find this blog (and Carpetbagger Report, previously) to be an incredible repository of interesting and relevant political news. Now it is simply 24/7 documentation of "stupid things Republicans said today".

Don't get me wrong. Michelle Bachman IS a world-class imbecile. She has no idea what she is talking about. But at some point enough is enough.

Benen either ignores or defends actions or statements by the White House or ConservaDems that would draw multiple critical posts if a Republican did or said the same thing.

I just don't understand why Steve Benen is wasting his considerable political and blogging skills by making this blog a hyper-partisan forum for laughing at Republicans. There is another major political party. They do control the White House and the Senate. And not everything that doesn't get accomplished can be laid at the feet of the GOP.

It might be nice if Benen occasionally addressed political events other than through a hyper-partisan lens.

Posted by: square1 on February 9, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't we all be way past expending valuable time and effort pointing out the logical inconsistencies of the utterances of acknowledged utterly stupid people like Bachmann?

Posted by: Rasputin22 on February 9, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I learned in Jr. High that the Constitution is a 'living, breathing' document; that is it was designed to be changed based on future situations that the founding fathers knew they couldn't possible fathom, much less predict.

I'd really like to know where this batshit crazy lady was educated.

Posted by: citizen_pain on February 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

You're twisting her words. She didn't say the Constitution can't be improved upon, she said the FOUNDING documents can't be improved upon. The AMENDMENTS to the constitution (after the 10th, anyway) were not part of the founding documents, they were add-ons. THEY should go, because they were unacceptable attempts to improve on the constitution. Especially the ones abolishing slavery, giving black people and women the right to vote, and instituting an income tax.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on February 9, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

square1 just shut up. If you want to point out the lunatic ravings of democrats go ahead. The unfortunate thing is that some people seem to be paying attention and believing what Bachmann says. Therefor we should be aware of what people like her ,who are enemies of logic and reason, are up to.

Posted by: Gandalf on February 9, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Those ten amendments are known as the bill of rights. You think those should be done away with Daryl?

Posted by: Kill Bill on February 9, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

The constitution the bill of rights ARE founding documents Daryl. What do you think the founding documents are?

http://www.foundingfathers.info/documents/

Posted by: Kill Bill on February 9, 2011 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

The Bill of Rights is, in fact, the first example of tinkering with the Constitution.

Posted by: Mike from Detroit on February 9, 2011 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Irony is dead, and sarcasm ain't feeling too good either, it would seem

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 9, 2011 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I dont think Bachmann, as a theonomist, cares about the constitution. They dont want people [Demos] rule [Kratos] They want to impose Mosaic [old testament] law.

Posted by: Kill Bill on February 9, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Kill Bill,

(1) I specifically said that the ones AFTER the first 10 should be done away with.

(2) I was being IRONIC (or is sarcastic? I can never keep those straight. Sardonic?)

Sheesh.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on February 9, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Yanno, Daryl, text doesnt relay sarcasm well.

Posted by: Kill Bill on February 9, 2011 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Our founding documents, they cannot be improved upon," said Bachmann, giving an almost Biblical rendition of the work product of the nation's first generation of politicians.

We are now at the point where fundamentalist religious morons liked Bachmann and the rest of the Xtian Right have brought their theocracy fully into their politics, and are now acting as if the Constitution and the Holy Bible (their odd interpretations of both being the only ones) are now wedded.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."

And it's happening right in front of our faces and people still don't want to admit the truth of what these people are and what they want to do.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 9, 2011 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with square1. I like the fact that this blog calls out "politicians doing and saying stupid things." The problem is that it's always Republicans and never Democrats. I think there are examples of Democrats being hypocritical and nutsy too. I would enjoy it if this blog reported on those as well.

Posted by: tomb on February 9, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK
You're twisting her words. She didn't say the Constitution can't be improved upon, she said the FOUNDING documents can't be improved upon. The AMENDMENTS to the constitution (after the 10th, anyway) were not part of the founding documents

The 27th Amendment was as much the work of the founders as the first 10 (it was part of the 12 proposed together as the Bill of Rights, it just took longer to be ratified than the other 10 that were ratified, and of course one of the twelve was never ratified.

And the Constitution itself included a procedure for amendment precisely because the founders themselves believed that it would be necessary to change it over time to meet evolving needs. Bachmann's idea that the "founding documents" cannot be improved upon is plainly contrary to those documents themselves. Its also a fairly bizarre form of idolatry.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Calm down, Gandalf.

I never said that Benen should completely ignore Bachmann. I said that this blog would benefit greatly from some perspective.

Posted by: square1 on February 9, 2011 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ah yes. The document written by white men, many of whom"owned' slaves; the document which discounted the vote value of Indians; who did not allow women to vote [um, Michelle - did you get that!]; for whom impregnating slaves was ok; in a time which shooting often took 1 minute + per bullet; where land-owners were provided more rights than others; where girls like Bristol Palin were ostracized by society for life;

that constitution and those revered founding fathers? We are to adhere to that frame and that unchanging document??

terrific. I 'll move to Canada.

Posted by: bigtuna on February 9, 2011 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, lets ask Rep Barfmann about a plain text reading of the 2nd Amendment; you know that part that says, " ... in a well armed Militia, the people shall have the right to bear arms..."

Posted by: Mark on February 9, 2011 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

It reads "well regulated militia"

Posted by: bigtuna on February 9, 2011 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

There's one serious problem with this argument she's putting forth, that if the founding documents were so perfect that they would never need attending to, then why would the founders choose to appoint a Supreme Court?

Posted by: bgansel9 on February 9, 2011 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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