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Posted at 2:32 PM ET, 12/22/2010

They're going to need some cough drops

By Ezra Klein

House Republicans have announced plans to read the Constitution aloud on the House floor on second day of the new Congress. As Jonathan Bernstein says, "it's well known that the Constitution is clear and unambiguous at all points, and that previous violations of it have been caused by a combination of ignorance and indifference. Once it's read on the House floor, that problem will be solved." But why stop with the Constitution?

To be safe, I'd recommend reading the rules of the 111th House; the new rules proposed by the incoming majority; and the final result, after it passes, of the official rules of the 112th House. While they're at it, they might as well read Robert's Rules of Order.

That's not all! I know Republicans have been quite concerned about the nefarious Democratic practice of passing bills they have not read in full, based on the belief that only a full reading of the text of the bill will reveal its true meaning. Therefore, I'd highly recommend that the House reject the corrupt Democratic practice of dispensing with the full reading of the bill, and commence full readings. Before they're referred to committee. Every bill.

Moreover, the Constitution, while obviously directly Divinely inspired, does have the sad drawback of not making that inspiration quite as explicit as we'd like it to be. A true People's House would, therefore, not stop with reading the Constitution, but plunge right in to the Declaration of Independence, paying special attention to the parts about "nature's God" and "endowed by their Creator." And the good bits in the last paragraph, too.

To be on the safe side, I'd also say that it can't hurt to read the Federalist Papers out loud on the House floor. And Tom Paine's Common Sense. I was going to say they should add Longfellow's poem, but I heard a rumor that it was subversive, so forget that one.

And...yes, everyone but a few radicals in Berkeley, Madison, and Cambridge knows that true legitimate authority is directly based on God, so I'd very much expect House Republicans to insist on a full reading of the Christian Bible on the House floor.

Anything he missed?

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 2:32 PM ET
 
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Next: The 9/11 bill passes -- but should it really have been this hard?

Comments

Is this for all the Republicans who can't read?

Posted by: S1VA | December 22, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the requirement that Congress members read the bill before voting on it. So, I propose either reading the bill aloud and requiring all members to be present for it or giving the members 72 hours to read a bill on the condition that they must be in their offices for at least 36 of those hours with the phones and email turned off.

Yeah, I don't think so either.

Posted by: willows1 | December 22, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Fountainhead. And Atlas Shrugged. Every word should be read aloud, and at the really suggestive parts, the reader should raise a single finger in the air and speak a bit more loudly, clearly illustrating that A Meaningful Passage.

Then the pledge of allegiance. They probably do this already, but you can never do it enough.

Actually, the pledge of allegiance should be altered in Congress. Everyone should bring their own bowie knife, and prior to the pledge, everyone should cut their own palm before bringing a hand to their heart.

Posted by: owumd | December 22, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I think they should read Sarah Palin's tweets aloud on the floor as she comments on every bill.

And the Talmud. Also.

Posted by: stevie314 | December 22, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

They should read Sharia law, just to make sure they don't pass it by mistake.

Posted by: kggk | December 22, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I'd just be happy if they read their email. Half the time I send a message to a Congress person I get a bounce back saying the box is full. The other half of the time I get a canned response that indicates they didn't read my actual message.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | December 22, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Pretty sure our president taught Constitutional law, so maybe he could just pop in every couple of weeks and give a refresher course to the House Dems. Saves time and streamlines government. Win-Win! Hooray!

Posted by: beellinor | December 22, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, he missed re-reading ACA. On Glenn Beck's show, I once saw a totally-not-taken-out-of-context, three-second clip of some speech Pelosi gave where she *admitted* she hadn't read it! Because it makes me very upset to think Pelosi doesn't read bills I hate, we must go back and re-read past bills.

Posted by: Chris_ | December 22, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Pretty sure our president taught Constitutional law, so maybe he could just pop in every couple of weeks and give a refresher course to the House Dems. Saves time and streamlines government. Win-Win! Hooray!

Posted by: beellinor | December 22, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

is that called a "fullabluster?"

Posted by: bdballard | December 22, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Reading anything aloud would be preferable to the other things recent Congresses have done.

Posted by: msoja | December 22, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps one of the readers of the second amendment can explain what "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" actually means! Better yet, invite the 9 Supremes in to do the reading. What an absolute waste of time.

Posted by: agoldhammer | December 22, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Off-topic, but seeing as how you haven't written about this yet, I'll write it here:

This is the kind of thing I think warrants far more attention than it’s likely to receive (probably none) in the press:

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/12/21/chamber-911compensation-oppose/

What Coburn will (and has) said is it’s the lowered price tag for the 9/11 bill that allowed him to change his mind.

Of course, since the whole cost was offset before, it seems more likely that the real reason is that the Democrats backed down on closing a foreign tax loophole.

(I’m being very charitable by saying ‘more likely’ rather than ‘obvious’.)

Especially as next year is expected to involve a large focus on taxes, with Obama probably looking to cut some existing deductions, the trend of the past two years makes me very pessimistic this kind of thing has a chance.

Remember when Obama wanted to put a cap on charitable giving deductions for high earners?

The new conventional wisdom seems to be that MAYBE some Republicans will get on board with these kinds of measures to reduce the deficit since they could (and really should) be viewed as a form of spending that favors ‘special interests’ rather than a tax increase, which Republicans have sworn off.

However, what seems more likely, based on what happened today, is that cutting the tax deductions of the powerful are difficult to get the ‘common folk’ riled up about, and so they’re actually LESS likely to get removed, since most people don’t know about them and so aren’t angry enough to shame the Coburns of the world to action.

How many times has the issue of oil company tax breaks been raised? And what’s been done about it?

I’ll be very happy to eat crow if I see even a morsel of coverage (beyond Think Progress and the tiny reach of liberal talk radio) on this 9/11 bill funding capitulation.


Posted by: isaidmoreham | December 22, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Only thing I can see missing is a Tuesday afternoon reading of the latest Tom Tomorrow strip.

Posted by: porsillo | December 22, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Democrats pass bills they don't even read.

Maybe this is necessary

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | December 22, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, they really seem to think that this Parliament of Peacocks as a substitute for actual governing.

Posted by: theorajones1 | December 22, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

It's been a while since I read the Congressional Record, but if memory serves there are in theory 3 or so readings of the bill during its progress through the House, each of which is waived by unanimous consent.

Posted by: bharshaw | December 22, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Where the "Mess Hall" is like that famous scene in A Few Good Men (AKA not everything is in the Constitution): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgIBG8q1Gjc

@CHris_Gaun
chrisgaun@gmail.com

Posted by: chrisgaun | December 22, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I think that this would be great theater. While the constitution is being read, some of the congresspeople could link arms and march proudly through the gallery of tourists. If anyone spoke to them they could claim that they were spit on. Oh wait... Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants already did that.

Posted by: cummije5 | December 22, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

EXTREMELY disrespectful of elections and like kicking dirt in the faces of the America People to run a lame duck session like this.

.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 22, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The Jeffersonian Bible should also be read since, as a Founding Father, Jefferson's insight as to the Founding Father's Biblical embrace might be revealing.

Republicans are like the car-chasing dog. What do they do now that they caught it? Governing is not their strong suit. Everything they've touched in the last 30 years has turned to sh ..omething bad.

Fear, Hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division is all they have to offer.

Posted by: thebobbob | December 22, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"...like kicking dirt in the faces of the America People to run a lame duck session like this."

That's an interesting characterization of the process of passing popular legislation (heavily supported by most Americans, according to polling) that has been held up for months solely due to endless parliamentary maneuvers by the Republicans trying to prevent the passage of anything.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | December 22, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

To be honest, that seems like a random list from Bernstein. Takes away from the joke when it seems like he was just grasping at ever more ridiculous texts for the sake of being ridiculous.

Meta aside, I'd love it if they read the federalist papers, since Hamilton and Madison were the two big strong central government proponents, heh. The federalist papers are like a long list disproving all the interpretations of the Constitution (and what the founding fathers *thought* it meant) that conservatives have been hawking since... well, since the Constitutional Convention. :)

Posted by: roquelaure_79 | December 22, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Why does the left always have a conniption when any kind of deference is shown to the Constitution?

Why don't they join in and celebrate the reading?

Oh, I know why. It's because ever since FDR's scorpions (Frankfurter, Black, Douglas), the words of the Constitution were just an obstacle in the way of creating a Brave New World. So they invented silly new doctrines to make it seem like they were adhering to a Constitution, when in reality they were just trampling all over it. So now we have the "living constitution" and other nonsensical BS.

I'd appreciate honesty from the left. Why don't you just admit that the Constitution is an archaic doctrine not suited for modern times? I could respect that more than the intellectual self-deceit you engage in.

Posted by: ElGipper | December 22, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Why does the left always have a conniption when any kind of deference is shown to the Constitution?

Why don't they join in and celebrate the reading?

Oh, I know why. It's because ever since FDR's scorpions (Frankfurter, Black, Douglas), the words of the Constitution were just an obstacle in the way of creating a Brave New World. So they invented silly new doctrines to make it seem like they were adhering to a Constitution, when in reality they were just trampling all over it. So now we have the "living constitution" and other nonsensical BS.

I'd appreciate honesty from the left. Why don't you just admit that the Constitution is an archaic doctrine not suited for modern times? I could respect that more than the intellectual self-deceit you engage in.

Posted by: ElGipper | December 22, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Hope they pay particular attention to the last sentence of Article 6:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

To reiterate: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Posted by: jimvj | December 22, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

This will make CPSAN riveting drama as we listen to the 18th amendment in horror and later hear the uplifting words of the 21st amendment, turning tears of sadness into tears of joy . . . oops, sorry, I didn't mean to give the story away!

Posted by: pjro | December 22, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

What a snarky, anti-religous piece of drivel.

Posted by: RobT1 | December 23, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

ElGripper said:
Why does the left always have a conniption when any kind of deference is shown to the Constitution?

Maybe because they prefer substance over form? Reading it aloud is the sort of silly fluff you expect in 3rd grade. Actually running the country is how Adults celebrate the Constitution.

Posted by: juddrogers | December 23, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

What a stunt! The Republicans are really good at political theater they just aren't that good at governing.

Posted by: FauxReal | December 24, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait to see who gets to read the part about blacks being 3/5 of a person for census purposes, and the part about how only white landowning men can vote. Should be entertaining.

Posted by: TomR3 | December 24, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

It's a horse and pony show. Our elected officials stopped caring about the Constitution the moment they fell into the pockets of the rich lobbyists. Republicans. Democrats. It doesn't matter. The results are the same. The rich get richer and the rest of us sit back quietly while our civil liberties are stripped away.

Posted by: LBlucher | December 25, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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