C’mon Truth, Get Your Damn Shoes On!
“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Brace yourselves, Roasters, it’s starting early this time around. You know what I mean, right? that goofy quadrennial American reality show called The Making of The President, in which a gang of nattering political nabobs join in a rousing cacophonous chorus of Me! ME!! Look at meeeee!
One of the talking points that seems to be developing legs, on the Right, is the Lawless Obama meme. Rallying round that notion, I expect the pundits of the courtier press to be donning their little amateur constitutionalist thinking caps, any minute now, and letting us in on what their “gut” tells them is unconstitutional. And we the people will commence quivering with fear because . . . ASSAULT ON LIBERTY!!!
In my opinion, we humans need things like Constitutions to protect us from ourselves. As individuals we are capable of making some spectacularly bad decisions, in groups, the bad can be compounded. Foundational documents like constitutions and codes of law are devised to save the good decisions and restrict the bad decisions for posterity. But when politics enter into the equation, all hell can and does break loose . . .
Common sense tells us that there are, at any given time a precious few people actually qualified to argue over the constitutionality of our laws. And, generally, we carefully select and pay those people to sit around in black robes all day keeping us honest. By comparison, carrying a tiny copy of the US Constitution in one’s pocket, while an occasionally effective theatrical prop [see Bachmann, Michele], does not endue the bearer with any constitutional cred whatsover, and the constitutional fever dreams engendered by politicians and other miscreants are like so much piss in the wind.
Of course, in any gaggle of legislators, a few of those folks creating a hubbub, like Messrs. Cruz and Lee, have the actual credentials that lend a patina of intelligence to their ravings. What isn’t so obvious is the fact that such pols are so very cynical in achieving their political ends that they are willing to publicly embarrass themselves, their alma maters and their profession by advancing outlandish accusations and counter-intuitive arguments to manipulate their constituencies into believing what they say.
It comes as no surprise that the best tactic these guys can dream up to get themselves elected is to accuse President Obama of lawlessness. But nota bene—if their charges hold water, they are the only ones who can do something about it. So what are they waiting for? what could be better for their party than impeaching a sitting President of the opposite party? When asked what they intend to do about it, however . . . crickets.
I’m sorry, Mr Obama, but when it comes to the Ironman competition of presidential overreach and lawlessness, over the last 80 or so years, I’m afraid that you have not a prayer of even making it to the podium. Not when you’re competing with the likes of FDR who invented The Imperial Presidency, or a heavyweight like Richard Nixon who set the modern benchmark for presidential lawlessness, or Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra shenanigans, or - dare I speak the names - of your immediate predecessors? Bush/Cheney and Co.
See, the thing about twiddling your thumbs while presidents overreach and excusing their lawlesness in the name of USA!USA!USA! is that, eventually, someone that you don’t like as much as your own guy will be sitting in that Oval Office, with his/her “pen and phone” at the ready, atop a mountain of past precedent. And, as a rule, a mucking-up that was decades in the making isn’t easily dispensed with over night, no matter how much breath-holding and foot stamping is brought to bear.
If Republicans are serious about reestablishing a balance of governmental power, my advice is to a) quit ceding your own branch’s power, when it suits you, b) make rational, actionable arguments when you believe a branch has over-reached and c) enact laws to redress the imbalance and live by them no matter who is in office and who is out (see Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan).
That last part is where the rubber will not hit the road because it’s a handy political stratagem to frighten the electorate with visions of brown shirts and fascists when your party is on the outs but, when your party is in the ascendant, you might really enjoy having that power for your own team.
And, really, Republicans when all you’ve got is arguing over the nuts and bolts of the machinery of government you are signalling real weakness and a lack of faith in your own policy platform and silliness in your playbook. How many Americans, outside of the bubble, do you really think believe that the President that they resoundingly re-elected is “lawless?”
The good news? the US Constitution has weathered almost 300 years of attempts to carve it up and twist it into something else entirely. Let’s drink to the next 300!