In a nation founded upon the U.S. Constitution, one might think that reading the founding document out loud on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives might not be controversial, but some on the left suggest those promoting its voicing have a “fetish.”
Among them is Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.com, who penned a column titled, “Read It and Weep: How the tea party’s fetish for the Constitution as written may get it in trouble.”
Dictionaries define “fetish” as an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion, often associated with sexual gratification.
During an appearance on MSNBC last night, Lithwick said she believed there was historical precedent for a constitutional fetish among those on the political right.
“The way some people rub Buddha and they think the magic will come off, I think there’s a longstanding tradition in this country. We’re awfully religious about the Constitution,” she said. “I think there is this sort of fetishization that is of a piece with the sort of need for a religious document that’s immutable and perfect in every way.”
She added: “Part of what’s a little bit fraud about this conversation is that the same people who are fetishizing the document as written, as framed by the framers – and bracket the idea that there wasn’t one framer and there was no one agenda embodied in this – but even if you bracket that idea, I think there’s a real problem with the idea that we’re trying to sort of fetishize the document at the same moment that we’re falling over ourselves to amend and change the parts we don’t like.”
Lithwick’s remarks came under heavy fire from Rush Limbaugh, the top-rated radio host, who ripped Lithwick and others on the left for holding such a sentiment.
“They’re perverts themselves,” Limbaugh said. “These are perverts perverting the founding documents. If the Constitution’s not that big a deal, how come the same people had such a cow when they thought Christine O’Donnell didn’t know what she was talking about regarding the Constitution? If it’s so unimportant, how come Obama’s so proud to have been a constitutional lawyer or professor or lecturer, whatever he was?
“Abraham Lincoln. They hate him? Abraham Lincoln had a fetish for the U.S. Constitution? Here’s what Lincoln said among many other things: ‘We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.’ That’s Lincoln. Is he a pervert? Lincoln have a fetish? Lincoln also said, ‘Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.’”
The New York Times also objects to the Constitution’s reading, stating, “Is this group of Republicans really trying to suggest that they care more deeply about the Constitution than anyone else and will follow it more closely? In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation.”
Syndicated columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer said the objection to reading the Constitution aloud by many on the left “is truly astonishing.”
He said on Fox News that in the 1960s, “Liberals got in trouble for being on the wrong side of the flag,” and are now in danger of being on the wrong side of the Constitution, which he called “the essence of America.” He noted for liberals to think there’s an advantage in dismissing the public reading of the document “is real bad politics.”
The reading of the Constitution on the House floor was originally promoted by Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., who will be the first reader tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.
“The Constitution has never been read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives. This historic and symbolic reading is long overdue and shows that the new majority in the House truly is dedicated to our Constitution and the principles for which it stands,” said Goodlatte.