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Michael Steele's idiotic criticism of Elena Kagan

The only -- I mean only -- way to explain RNC chairman Michael Steele's incredibly idiotic criticism of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's support for Justice Thurgood Marshall's critique of the originally drafted Constitution is that an RNC staffer handed him a set of deliberately out-of-context talking points, excluding references to Marshall, and headline-seeking Steele ran with them.

This is an excerpt of what Justice Marshall had to say at the annual seminar of the San Francisco Patent and Trademark Law Association Convention in Maui on May 6, 1987:

I cannot accept this invitation, for I do not believe the meaning of the Constitution was forever "fixed" at the Philadelphia Convention. Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight, and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. When contemporary Americans cite "The Constitution,” they invoke a concept that is vastly different from what the Framers barely began to construct two centuries ago.

For a sense of the evolving nature of the Constitution we need look no further than the first three words of the document's preamble: “We the People.” When the Founding Fathers used this phrase in 1787, they did not have in mind the majority of America's citizens. "We the People" included, in the words of the Framers, "the whole Number of free Persons." On a matter so basic as the right to vote, for example, Negro slaves were excluded, although they were counted for representational purposes at three-fifths each. Women did not gain the right to vote for over 130 years. These omissions were intentional.

What part of this statement does Michael Steele reject? And if he is, indeed, a self-demeaning fool who believes that the originally drafted Constitution was not defective, why doesn't he seek membership in the Ku Klux Klan?

By Colbert King  | May 10, 2010; 6:34 PM ET
Categories:  King  | Tags:  Colbert King  
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Next: How Elena Kagan saved New York

Comments

Let's face it: The GOP would be a lot better off with the 3/5 rule back in place. As for MC Steele: Self-loathe much?

Posted by: xtophera | May 10, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Idiocy is color blind

Posted by: martymar123 | May 10, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Wow, you've greatly diminished my respect of Thurgood Marshall. I didn't realize he was that flawed. Michael Steele isn't the best thing to happen to the RNC, no argument there. What surprises me is how many progressives still think in terms of slavery and race while most of America has moved on.

Posted by: JaredP | May 10, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Where's an editor when we need one? "Michael Steele's idiotic criticism" is both redundant and self-evident!

Posted by: fr3dmars | May 10, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Fire him up Mr. King.

If an idiot wears "Kick Me" signs, then one must oblige.

Posted by: Anadromous2 | May 10, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

"What surprises me is how many progressives still think in terms of slavery and race while most of America has moved on."

What surprises me is that some folks don't understand that, while MOST of America has moved on, a significant minority still exists in the 50's. The 1850's. Until ALL of America moves on, we'll be having this discussion.

Posted by: DaveR1 | May 10, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King using your own standards of judgement, I believe you are a racist. You've criticized a prominent African American. I'm worried you may turn violent like all those crazy white Tea Party folks.

Posted by: maxtel1910 | May 10, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Colbert King could have, along with Thurgood Marshall, left the country in 1987. Both were free men and had each and every right as every other free men, and they had them as a result of the actions of members of the Republican Party. If Colbert King had half a brain he wouldn't go on the racist rants he goes on, but he does so because he is a SLAVE TO THE DEMOCRAT PARTY AND THE PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS.

Posted by: chatard | May 10, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

It is so easy to take today's realities and impose them on the events of the 1780's. Typical liberal thinking. So, here is a question, Mr. King: Would you be better off in say, Nigeria or Ghana today? I seriously doubt that. Marshall was wrong when he wrote this screed and he is wrong now. Next subject.

Posted by: dcmowbray1 | May 10, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

In Mr. Steele's case I don't think he's intentionally using these remarks about the "original Constitution" to appeal to conservative white racists upset at expansion of Constitutional rights...but such language started that way as part of the Republicans' infamous Southern Strategy, which they're still using.

Posted by: Civilius | May 10, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with the article's title "Michael Steele's idiotic criticism of Elena Kagan" as "Michael Steele" and the word "idiotic" are redundant.

Posted by: tomfin69 | May 10, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Teddy Roosevelt was the first President with a Northern daddy and a Souvrn' mommy.

That's how far in the past the Civil War was.

As usual Br'r King still disparages the gift my 8 Great Great Grandfather's and a couple of Great Grandfather's brought the slaves ~ BTW, every one of them was a Republican, and even before the Civil War a couple were involved in disposing of professional slave catchers.

Time for King to get over the fact that the Republicans he despises today are no different than the Republicans who freed the slaves then.

Else I'm going to start thinking of him as a crazy old nutcase.

Posted by: muawiyah | May 10, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Steele is just expressing the Neo-Confederatism that is all the rage in Republican circles.

Next he's going to explain how slavery was good for the blacks and how the Civil War was about States' Rights and Southern Heritage.

Posted by: ottoparts | May 10, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

"Mr. King using your own standards of judgement, I believe you are a racist..."

yada, yada, yada. Let's just stipulate that we're all racists and be done with it.
Let's stipulate at the same time that African Americans have borne the brunt
of racism in this country. Yes, we're all racists. Some people know more about it than others.

Posted by: martymar123 | May 10, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Steele takes positions he can't possibly believe in, but still gets paid for. He represents an old, white, right-wing conservative party of No that believes that having no ideas for our country's future and doing nothing will win the election...
I say Obama!

Posted by: dudh | May 10, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Thurgood Marshall was absolutely correct. Only those too lazy or too uppity to research what he was talking about would disagree.
Right on Mr. King!

Posted by: paris1969 | May 10, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, Michael Steele still only operates as 3/5ths!

Posted by: Maerzie | May 10, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

"And if he is, indeed, a self-demeaning fool who believes that the originally drafted Constitution was not defective, why doesn't he seek membership in the Ku Klux Klan?"

So to show how dumb Michael Steele is by taking something out of context and running with it...you decided copying him exactly was the best approach? You have to be an idiot.

Posted by: vk5u | May 10, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Colbert King, has a plantation mindset. Stay with it Colbert it serves you well.

Posted by: dashriprock | May 11, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Any honest student of US history knows that Colbert King and Thurgood Marshall are exactly right here.

People who can't deal with that have some irrational need to believe otherwise.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 11, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

@dcmowbray

"It is so easy to take today's realities and impose them on the events of the 1780's. Typical liberal thinking. So, here is a question, Mr. King: Would you be better off in say, Nigeria or Ghana today? I seriously doubt that. Marshall was wrong when he wrote this screed and he is wrong now. Next subject."

Marshall's quote also mentions the 130 years that it took for women to get the vote. And the vote was restricted to male property owners. Would you ask any women, white or otherwise, or any white male who didn't own property (shoes and spoons don't count) who raises that issue whether they might be better off in another country as well? Actually, considering how many countries have and have had female heads of state and had one man, one vote before we did...

Next subject?

Posted by: dwiles | May 11, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

dwiles, bwahaha, "shoes and spoons don't count". Great post.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 11, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

The continued prejudice that Mr. King expresses against those who desire to entertain important persons at lesbian S&M clubs is deplorable. The nimbus of this bigotry hovers over every King commentary about Mr. Steele.

Posted by: Martial | May 11, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Anyone that DOESNT agree with Thurgood Marshall is an Un-American, lying sack of exrement.

Posted by: kreator6996 | May 11, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

I can't decide whether blacks or Republicans should be more embarrassed about Michael Steele and his stupidity. He must be in enormous denial about himself and what this country's history is. Otherwise, he could not possibly both be a Republican and look himself in the mirror. Republicans who continue to allow him to make such a fool of himself are truly cruel.

Posted by: qrsi | May 11, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse


Nothing Mr. Steele said is any more idiotic than Marshall’s quote or this silly column.

Justice Marshall took an oath to uphold the constitution as written. Invoking the ethical inconsistencies and character flaws of some of the framers did not give Marshall, or any other justice, moral authority to selectively disregard or reinterpret this document.

If we follow Marshall’s argument to its logical conclusion: I am entitled to ignore any law passed by my state legislature because my state senator is mentally unstable; we are free to disregard any legislation sponsored by Ted Kennedy or Robert Byrd because Ted was a philandering drunk and Byrd was a Klansman, etc.

As you can see this attitude would create anarchy.

Posted by: dcn1 | May 11, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

There is a amendment process constitutionally provided.

Posted by: almorganiv | May 11, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Even the Founding Fathers knew it wasn't fixed, - that's why there's an *amendment process* to change what needs changing. Please note that in the cases Justice Marshall cited that is exactly what happened (though one arguably required a civil war to force). What *did not* happen was as few as five people on a court bench deciding that A now meant B.

If the Constitution is simply going to mean whatever the mob wants it to mean, why even bother with it? Let the mob rule. Just pray it's not a mob with rope.

Posted by: sullivanjc | May 11, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Methinks Mr. Steele doth take his job as Republican Court Jester entirely too seriously. I have to believe that some of the things that come out of him must be issued with tongue firmly in cheek. He can't be serious. Or maybe his house has no mirrors.........

Posted by: Chuckitoff | May 11, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Let see if we can put some perspective on all this. Elena Kagan= Harriet Myers. Another progressive hack from Harvard. Like that's supposed to make everything okie doakie. Colburt, I was just wondering, The USA bombed Germany in WW2, killed millions of people and they don't hold a grudge or want reparations. The Japanese were nuked, and they don't hold a grudge or demand reparations. So why is it that race is the only thing lib's such as yourself feel the need to inject into every remark? Its been 145 years, you'd think you would move on. Most of America already has, please move on.

Posted by: elcigaro1 | May 11, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

"To give the people justiciable rights, is to derogate from the sovereignty of parliament". That's what one founding father of the Jamaican constitution said circa 1960.
Every country's constitution is a journey, a work in progess if you will, not a destination, with important refinements through the generations. Were this not so neither Steele nor King would have been able to cast a vote, and certainly not for another black man.
The scholastic merit of Marshall's statement may be debated, but not the facts therein.
If we ignore King's choice of adjectives, it is still worth asking "what part of this statement does Michael Steele reject?"

Posted by: BigFren | May 11, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Mr. King, I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote,[[The only -- I mean only -- way to explain RNC chairman Michael Steele's incredibly idiotic criticism of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's support for Justice Thurgood Marshall's critique of the originally drafted Constitution is that an RNC staffer handed him a set of deliberately out-of-context talking points, excluding references to Marshall, and headline-seeking Steele ran with them]]
++++++
That is one of the problems with today's GOP -- they all mouth the same talking points they are given. If you listen to one Republican pol say something about policy or what Obama is doing, you can be sure that there will be 20 behind him or her saying the same thing almost verbatim. It is a party of robotrons.

Posted by: creatia52 | May 11, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The Southern Strategy united Republicans and most other conservative types with southern degenerates of pre and post Civil War mentalities. The treachery of the South defines the GOP better now than it ever defined the pre-Civil War South. Justice Marshall was/is perfectly accurate in his view of the Constitution of the U.S. Case closed.

Posted by: tuonela | May 11, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

This is what we expect from Mr. Steele.After all he was not elected to head the RNC because he had a brain. He had the right color, for the RNC, because they assume all blacks had the same size brain power as Mr. Steele, and this was to draw the blacks into the GOP. Well we all see that their plan didn't work. They happen to elect a black with the lowest brain power in our AMREICA.

Posted by: carolynlebeaufyahoocom | May 11, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Steele says what he must say because they would fire him if doesn't, and he so likes the money.

Posted by: mjcc1987 | May 11, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King wrote: And if he is, indeed, a self-demeaning fool who believes that the originally drafted Constitution was not defective, why doesn't he seek membership in the Ku Klux Klan?
**
Sincerely, Washington Post, is this the best you can do? I have come to realize that without interjected "race" some would be without a thought. So very sad...for them!

Posted by: majorman06 | May 11, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

How laughable -- Colbert King calling someone else an idiot! His logic and reasoning are so simplistic that it defies belief that he has a newspaper column. Incapable of debating the merits of the Constitution or of Justice Marshall's critique, King can only attack Mr. Steele and make a silly reference to joining the KKK. A third grader could make a more intelligent argument.

Posted by: LiveFree1 | May 11, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Did you know that there were some colonists that did not want the Constitution ratified because they thought that it would give the Federal government to much power and would take away individual rights? They were called anti-Federalists. It seems to me that they are today's Republicans. That's alright but if you lived back in the day before ratification then you would also oppose the Constitution of the United States which is a GREAT written document.
I find this ironic.

Posted by: mcdonalsherry | May 11, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"Let see if we can put some perspective on all this. Elena Kagan= Harriet Myers. Another progressive hack from Harvard. Like that's supposed to make everything okie doakie. Colburt, I was just wondering, The USA bombed Germany in WW2, killed millions of people and they don't hold a grudge or want reparations. The Japanese were nuked, and they don't hold a grudge or demand reparations. So why is it that race is the only thing lib's such as yourself feel the need to inject into every remark? Its been 145 years, you'd think you would move on. Most of America already has, please move on.

Posted by: elcigaro1 | May 11, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse"

A nice example of teatard thinking and writing.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | May 11, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

martymar123 = "Yes, we're all racists. Some people know more about it than others."

Well said!!!

To quote the "grass roots" types the republicans were all the rage over before the tea baggers stole their hearts:
"DITTO!!!"

Posted by: TOMMYBASEBALL | May 11, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

For those who don't know or never knew, Thurgood Marshall argued the winning side in Brown Vs. the Board of Education, the Warren Court ruling that outlawed segregated schools. In the 1920s, he was denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School because of his race. (That's in Marshall's own home town of Baltimore.) How could he not see the Constitution, as drafted, as being fundamentally flawed when it allowed such rank discrimination.

Posted by: jhpurdy | May 11, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow.... just by adding the Bill of Rights -- FOUR YEARS AFTER THE CONSTITUION WAS RATIFIED -- shows that even the FRAMERS thought the original was just a little bit "defective".

Take your heads outa that hole you've been digging....

Posted by: pben | May 11, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

dcn1 - "Justice Marshall took an oath to uphold the constitution as written..."

The constitution specifies no oath for the Supreme Court, but, under US Law, all justices take an oath similar to other federal appointees:

"I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."

Where do you see "as written" in there?

Are you saying that the Supreme Court takes an oath to IGNORE THE AMENDMENTS?

If you actually read Justice Marshall's comments instead of giving it a steele, you would see that he is distinguishing between the original document and the one that currently exists as amended.

Marshall's point, doh-head, is that the people who advocate originalism, like Alito, are incorrect.

And you know what? In Citizens United, the originalist proponents stated the constitution was more defective than Justice Marshall ever did.

They just made up law out of thin air.

Where is the conservative uproar to these activist stooges of big business?

Still waiting...

Posted by: TOMMYBASEBALL | May 11, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

elcigaro1 -
FIRST: "Elena Kagan= Harriet Myers. Another progressive hack from Harvard."

If you think Myers was a progressive you are a moron.

Myers is to Kagan as Karzai is to George Washington.

Second: "The Japanese were nuked, and they don't hold a grudge or demand reparations."

Just because you are not interested enough to follow complex issues does not mean they do not exist.

The Japanese call the survivors of the 2 bombings "Hibakusha" and there has been quite a bit of "discussion" about them over the past 50 years - in Japan, in the US, in the US Congress. Included in those discussions was, guess what, reparations.

There are protests when US Presidents visit Japan. There was quite a to-do when Bush was expected to apologize for the bombings and refused.

The Japanese are not at all hunky-dory about the bombings. And if you really want to get your fat head out of the sand, ask a German about Dresden.

You are clueless.

Posted by: TOMMYBASEBALL | May 11, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Amen Mr. King, Amen.

Posted by: hyphen_va | May 11, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Elcigaro wrote:
Colburt, I was just wondering, The USA bombed Germany in WW2, killed millions of people and they don't hold a grudge or want reparations. The Japanese were nuked, and they don't hold a grudge or demand reparations. So why is it that race is the only thing lib's such as yourself feel the need to inject into every remark? Its been 145 years, you'd think you would move on. Most of America already has, please move on.

This comment is about as intelligent as the rest of the conservative tripe here. A little bit of history for an ignoramus:
Japan declared war on us with a devastating sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Ever hear of it? Germany declared war on us a few days later. Are you really trying to claim there is some equivalency between the aggressors of WWII and slavery and race relations in America??? Pathetic. And do you really believe that America moved beyond its history of slavery 145 years ago??? I suppose you have never heard of Jim Crow, sharecropping, 'Whites only', Rosa Parks or a little thing called the Civil Rights movement.

Conservatives today: no intellect, no honesty, and a shriveled husk where the soul is supposed to reside.

Posted by: Mac27 | May 11, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

wow, you have just proven to us you are a fool and useless...
someone who should retire because hatred is your mantra...
your time has come and gone...
mostly gone...

Posted by: DwightCollins | May 12, 2010 6:06 AM | Report abuse

The flaw in this editorial is that Conservatives look at the constitution as a set of of rules for what the gov't cannot do -- while the liberals look at it as a set of rules for what the government has the can to do. Being in the former group, I think Steele's opinion is well seated.

Posted by: Tones1 | May 16, 2010 5:02 AM | Report abuse

Reactionary race-baiting and name calling is an overused device that the left resorts to when they have no valid points to make.

Posted by: Tones1 | May 16, 2010 5:05 AM | Report abuse

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