The Grouchy Historian
CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Why I Wrote This Book
O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny
but the tyrant, stand forth!
—Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
Nobody thumps the Constitution like a Right-Wing Republican. Conservatives love the Constitution, invoking its very name—even more than the Bible and Ronald Reagan—as all the proof they need that God is on their side. It’s not enough that they think they own the Constitution; they act as if they wrote the damn thing.
In fact, frat boys, listening to Republican candidates, have invented a new way to get drunk: every time they hear the word Constitution, they down another shot of Jägermeister.I
The Constitution is the cornerstone of the Republican party’s agenda, along with small government, less regulation, and making sure the rich pay less taxes than the rest of us.
Republicans are supported by a phalanx of Right-Wing radio and TV hosts who wave the Constitution at us like so many brainwashed Chinese once lofted copies of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.
Mark Levin and Glenn Beck have made small fortunes publishing books that rewrite the Constitution to suit themselves. Rush Limbaugh’s website once featured him beside a blow-up of
the Constitution’s Preamble, a wide smile across his face as if he had just scored a prescription for painkillers.II
Bill O’Reilly used to give away free copies of the Constitution with every purchase of his “patriot” coffee mug.III
That was, of course, before he was fired from his television show where he advocated family values on the one hand while calling female employees and masturbating with the other.IV
From Tea Party politicians to the Wall Street Journal editorial board, all share the same distorted view: progressives, with the aid of pinko academics and activist judges, have been on a century-long march to disfigure the Constitution, bend it to their own evil objectives, and undo the social order as ordained by our country’s Founding Fathers.
To give you some idea of what I’m talking about, here are samples of quotes from their best and brightest:
I, as a constitutional conservative, as a believer in Jesus Christ . . . readily embrace [Donald Trump’s agenda].
—Michele Bachmann, former Republican congressperson
If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution make you a wacko bird, then you can count me a very proud wacko bird.
—Senator Ted Cruz
You can go to our Founding Fathers’ early documents and see how they crafted a Declaration of Independence and
Constitution that allows that Judeo-Christian belief to be the foundation of our lives . . .
—Sarah Palin, who is not who she once was
It is my number one duty as a human being—to earn an experiment in self-government every day by spotlighting cockroaches who violate their oath to the US Constitution and wipe their ass with the US Constitution.
—Ted Nugent, celebrity Trump supporter
And there are a helluva lot more where that came from.
• • •
Pissed off by the lies, misrepresentations, and outright horseshit, I decided it was time to strike back. It was time to reclaim the Constitution. Besides, if the Righties were wrong about everything else—like health care, climate change, and the corporate tax rate—they had to be wrong about the Constitution.
First, I did my homework. I read the Constitution and the amendments; perused The FederalistV
and Madison’s notes taken during the Constitutional Convention; surveyed the lives of the Founders and FramersVI
; looked over the Supreme Court opinions of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas; and even tried to digest Glenn Beck’s The Original Argument, Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments, and Dr. Ben Carson’s A More Perfect Union—three of the best over-the-counter sleep aids on the market. To find out how the mind of a strict constructionist works, I also dipped into Ted Cruz’s autobiography, A Time for Truth, a faith-based romance novel in which the hero falls in love with himself at an early age.
• • •
Here is a preview of what I came up with:
The Framers wrote the Constitution in order to form a strong central government, giving sweeping powers to Congress (not the states) and balanced by an equally strong executive branch.
Nothing in the Constitution suggests, let alone enforces, the concepts of limited government, limited taxes, and limited regulations.
The Framers were not divinely inspired. They were lawyers. Do you really know any divinely inspired lawyers? The only lawyer ever to be divinely inspired was Saul of Tarsus.VII
When the Framers wrote “We the People,” they meant themselves.VIII
Most of the Founders and Framers were Deists. Deism is a religion that believes in a God who really doesn’t give a shit.
The Framers did not hate taxation. They needed taxes, desperately. They had a war to pay off.
A strict constructionist is someone who selects portions of the Constitution to justify already held beliefs.
Under the Constitution, women had the same rights as a Chickasaw Indian.
The Constitution is as good as the people who swear to protect it.
The rest of what I learned is in this book.
For the record: I do not pretend that what I say here is an objective study of the Constitution and the men and events that went into its creation. I come to the subject as a citizen with my own strong point of view, believing that “objective historian” is a contradiction in terms, like “compassionate conservative” or “Fox News.”
Nor do I pretend to be a professional scholar—which might explain why not every quote is letter perfect or exactly endnoted.IX
For that, I have to blame my inexperienced research assistant, who also happens to be me.
But you will be happy to know that I did read some of the best historians and Constitutional scholars in the business. Many of whom happened to beat me to my best ideas.
I know what you’re thinking. Why me of all people? Why am I writing a book about the Constitution? Well, why not me? After all, I have played some of the smartest people ever seen on television. I
. And if there isn’t a drinking game like that, there should be. II
. A half page down, President Obama is shown gleefully tearing the Constitution to shreds. III
. Only $39.95. IV
. According to the claims in at least one settled lawsuit. V
. The Federalist is composed of eighty-five essays written anonymously by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Seven hundred pages in defense of the Constitution—so who had time for every word? Hell, I’m eighty-six years old. VI
. The Framers were those who “wrote” the Constitution. All the Framers were also Founders, but not all the Founders were Framers. VII
. As Saul, he was a Jewish lawyer. As Paul, he was a Christian tent maker. Later, Saint Paul. VIII
. The Framers created a republic—not a democracy—in which ordinary citizens like us were kept as far removed from the electoral process as possible. IX
. If you don’t believe my quotes, look the damn things up yourself.