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Posted at 2:13 PM ET, 01/27/2011

Bachmann, Matthews, Adams and slavery

By Jonathan Capehart

Chris Matthews had me on "Hardball" last night to discuss Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and her recent eyebrow-arching comments on slavery and our Forefathers to an Iowa tax group. He hadn't heard about them until he read my post on her "absolutely remarkable" view of history. And they only reinforced his view repeated last night that Bachmann is a "bubblehead."

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Viewers of "Hardball" know that guests don't have a whole lot of time to get their thoughts together and delivered before Matthews, whose mind whirs with the speed of a fighter jet engine, comes at them with the next question. So, in retrospect, I should have dialed back my criticism that Bachmann is ignorant of history by about 50 percent. She's not totally ignorant. She's just selectively knowledgeable.

In that Iowa speech, after Bachmann breathlessly proclaimed, "We also know that the very founders who wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." She went on to say, "I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly -- men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country." What helped to make her comments offensive was her smiley-faced rewriting of the nation's founding that preceded them.

How unique in all of the world, that one nation that was the resting point from people groups all across the world. It didn't matter the color of their skin, it didn't matter their language, it didn't matter their economic status.... Once you got here, we were all the same. Isn't that remarkable? It's absolutely remarkable.

Yeah, remarkable unless you were African -- or, later, Chinese or Italian or Irish or Mexican or any other nationality that had to contend with oppression or discrimination once they got here -- no matter how they got here.

ADAMS.jpg

As many commenters who saw me last night or read my earlier post have pointed out, not all of our Forebears were racists or supported slavery. Bachmann was -- gulp -- right to point out that John Quincy Adams "worked tirelessly" to purge that "evil...scourge" from the new nation. According to whitehouse.gov, he "tirelessly fought" for eight years to end the "gag rule" of 1836 that automatically tabled measures abolishing slavery. And don't forget about Adams's famous Amistad case.

But Bachmann's comments neglect to reflect that the Adams family was the exception at the founding, not the rule. And that is reflected in Article 1, Section 2, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, which counted slaves as three-fifths a person.

The Northern framers wanted to limit the slave trade and didn't want slaves (considered property with no right to vote or citizenship) to count towards a state's population for the purposes of apportioning representatives to the new national legislature. That would have given the Southern states, whose framers were insisting on a full count, an untenable advantage. So, the delegates to the Philadelphia convention of 1787 agreed to the three-fifths compromise. It allowed the ratification of the Constitution. But it also enshrined inequity and inhumanity within it. It would take a four-year Civil War concluded 78 years later and the 14th Amendment to end what Bachmann called the Founders' tireless work.

Bachmann did her audience a disservice by not giving them a fuller historical perspective. But for someone who proclaims her love for the Constitution and the men who crafted it with the frequency that Rudy Giuliani invoked 9/11 during the 2008 Republican primary contests, Bachmann failed to highlight the far-sighted wisdom of the Founders. They created a document of governance that allows it to be changed to right unforeseen wrongs. That's why we revere those learned men and that's what makes the Constitution the envy of and a model for the world.

Slavery is America's "original sin," as Matthews called it last night. Or its "constant curse," as President Clinton said in the 1990s. Those who harbor national ambitions would do well to not sugarcoat our tortured beginnings or downplay the struggle of those who toiled for Civil Rights or pretend that the land of opportunity was always one of equal opportunity.

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 27, 2011; 2:13 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Also worthy of an "eyeball arch" is Matthews pattern of sexist remarks. His references to Bachmann as "balloon head" are not only obnoxious and childish, but represenative of a continued hostility toward women in posiitons of power. Hilary Clinton was attacked by him a couple years ago and that resulted in an on air apology. Would Capehart be as willing to go on his show if he made racist or homophobic remarks on a consistent basis? Hmmm...

Posted by: dbunkr | January 27, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

As is often the case, the truth lies in the middle. Congress did not leave slavery untouched until the Civil War; first the constitution abolished the slave trade in 1808, and the Missouri Compromise of 1820 limited its expansion in the new territories.

Posted by: pondering | January 27, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

A correction of pondering's history: The Constitution did not abolish the slave trade in 1808. Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 actually prohibits Congress from banning the slave trade before 1808. Not quite the same thing.

Posted by: taxdiver1 | January 27, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

A correction of pondering's history: The Constitution did not abolish the slave trade in 1808. Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 actually prohibits Congress from banning the slave trade before 1808. Not quite the same thing.

Posted by: taxdiver1 | January 27, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution did not abolish the slave trade in 1808, it stated that congress could not pass a law to abolish the slave trade until 1808. After that date it could, but didn't.

The Missouri Compromise was more problematic and one one of the contributors the secession by the south. The fact that much of the expansion came from the north, or from European immigrants, produced strong anti-slavery sentiment in the territories. Europe had already begun outlawing slavery by the time of the revolution and many immigrants carried that sentiment with them. The south feared that allowing anti-slave territories into the union as states would overwhelm them in Congress which is what led to the south seceding, not that congress had outlawed slavery but that it would soon have a majority that would.

Posted by: elkiii_2008 | January 27, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

dbunkr, it's not sexist to call a woman a balloonhead if, as in Bachmann's case, she IS a balloonhead. As with libel law, if it's the truth, it's not libel.

Posted by: angelas1 | January 27, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Calling Bachmann a bubblehead is sexist? Seems like a stretch to me: the term sounds gender neutral.
After all, wasn't bubblehead often used to describe Bush after one of his "speeches"?

Posted by: apspa1 | January 27, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Bachmann is not an idiot. She is sending coded signals to white supremacist elements of her base.

Posted by: jonawebb | January 27, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

let's just stick to the point. suggesting that our founding fathers created a nation in which the color of your skin didn't matter is an indictment of either Bachman's brain or her education, or both.

Posted by: JoeT1 | January 27, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Surely America isn't as full of pinheads as it appears?
I have to give you guys the benefit of the doubt and think that what I see reflected in your discourse within the fifth estate is simply a dumbed-down debate that is being undertaken by the lowest common denominators in your country. I have to believe this as i have a fair amount of respect for America (as an institution).
In so many ways this argument is silly!
To try and discuss the dynamics underlying the gestation of your early political structures from the viewpoint of a modern citizen is a wonderful learning experience - to judge the same people using an ethical yardstick reflecting our modern ways of considering ethical standards is simply stupid.

Were the founders of the American State bigots?
Yes - they were en-cultured and educated within a social matrix epitomizing the 'great chain of being'. The rationality that was employed by these individuals, in consideration of many matters, was a rationality we cannot enjoy nor employ. We might approach it in a counter-intuitive manner via close semiotic analysis of documentation but we can never employ the same 'common-sense' understandings that were enjoined by these people. Anyone of our world who asserts that they 'absolutely understand' the thought processes or resultant decisions of these individuals is either fooling themselves (most often) or simply engaging in an ideological battle by proxy (as in the most egregious examples).

Hardball is a fun program and Mathews is no doubt an interesting and righteous individual, but I often find the adoption of views relating to American history provide for a wonderful insight into the speakers ideological streak but very little about the actual matters that are (supposedly) being considered. Most of these arguments have nothing to do with the events of the past and everything to do with the political battles in immediate prospect.

But all that aside - the kerfuffle in your papers certainly makes for fascinating (if not insightful)reading. Kinda like watching World Series Wrestling but with history.

Posted by: jamesmmoylan | January 27, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Bachmann appeals to the racist,igorant bunch in her base...let her remarks stay with that ilk where they belong.

Posted by: fairness3 | January 27, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Can't we just stipulate that Ms. Bachmann is a ditsy broad (like many of her gender), and that the only thing that really matters to them that she is of their gender?

Posted by: kenger1 | January 27, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

You are missing your calling-- you should be a diplomat-- Chris matthews guests can't get a word in much less answer a question. It is so annoying I often switch to watch something else, but I always switch back, hoping that oneday Chris will let his guests answer and all will be well with the world. Alas.

Posted by: coco7 | January 27, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Capehart, for being a stand-up guy and admitting you were wrong. And by the way, I saw the show live, and my impression was that you were not nearly as off base as Matthews. But he's beyond help anyway.

Posted by: mah243 | January 27, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

A lot of this confusion falls at the feet of our education system. How many students actually listen and learn any US History in school? My recollection is "just barely", but I have since made up for it with a lot of non-academic study, which is fascinating.
Maybe, instead of memorizing names and dates for years, History teachers should learn to tell the story of how our nation came to be, including both the things we got right, and the things we got wrong. They exist in roughly equal proportion, but our capacity for self-correction has made us a better place, decade by decade.
Hopefully, we will continue to improve, because our ideals continue to exist more as goals than realizations for too many Americans.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | January 27, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Yes,I stand corrected that it was not the Constitution. On March 2, 1807 Jefferson signed the law taking effect on January 1st 1808. However I do believe that Thomas Jefferson does qualify as a "Founder", as do many members of the majorities in both the House and Senate that passed the law. So the point is that John Adams was not alone, and many of the "Founders" did work to abolish slavery.

Posted by: pondering | January 27, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

A question for the Tea Party when picking national leaders and pushing policies, if your heroes (Palin, Beck, Bachmann) can't even get history right, how can you even begin to believe that they have the future right?”

Posted by: AverageJane | January 27, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Most blacks, not Michelle or Barack Obama, who live in Camden, NJ or Detroit, MI would be better off on plantations.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 27, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Michele Bachmann should not be speaking aloud in public. Period.

Posted by: gsross | January 27, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Great article.

But "...or pretend that the land of opportunity was always one of equal opportunity."

Always? As if it is now?!

Posted by: ascholl1 | January 27, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Why should any conservative criticize America's Founders, when Liberals spend so much time cricizing them? That would piling on after the whistle blows, especially since the Founders are not here to defend themselves against their attackers.

Conservatives revere the Founders, because they created a system of Government that has worked by recognizing that Government inherenty seeks to expand its powers at the expense of the People's liberties and the People must always actively limit Government power, if they are to remain free. That's anathema to progressive expansion of Government power liberals love.

Conservatives believe the People who fought the Revolutionary War know better the evils of Government power than their successors.

Conservatives believe no modern politician measures up to the achievements of the Founders. Who is the modern Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison? Any modern politician claiming such stature would rightly be laughed at, even by most liberals.

Mr. Capeheart thanks the Founders for creating a Constitution that changes.

Conservatives join in that praise, if the change comes through the Amendment process the Founders created and not through reinterpretation.

Posted by: jfv123 | January 27, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes,I stand corrected that it was not the Constitution. On March 2, 1807 Jefferson signed the law taking effect on January 1st 1808. However I do believe that Thomas Jefferson does qualify as a "Founder", as do many members of the majorities in both the House and Senate that passed the law. So the point is that John Adams was not alone, and many of the "Founders" did work to abolish slavery.

Posted by: pondering | January 27, 2011 5:14 PM |

Great argument you have there. Unless you consider that Mr Jefferson owned slaves.

A quote from his overseer Captain Edmund Bacon "Mr. Jefferson was always very kind and indulgent to his servants. . . He would hardly ever allow one of them to be whipped."

Sounds like a lovely gent who didn't really work so tirelessly to end anything.

Posted by: mainstreetmedia | January 27, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Years ago I lived in Virginia. We visited the usual tourist "places of interest". Monticello home of Thomas Jefferson (a founding father) was a working plantation with slave labor. George Washington (a founding father) had a large plantation at Mount Vernon. His "employment" of slave labor is well documented. Indeed, Virginia's famous plantation owners had more slaves than other states (according to U.S. historians).

When we lived in Yorktown Virginia, we visited historic Jamestown. The National Park Service conducts tours. They make a presentation that dramatizes the arrival of folks from England (you know before the Revolutionary War). Many of those first arrivals at Jamestown were on a "work release" program from English DEBTORS PRISON. There were also "indentured servants". An indentured servant was typically a young unskilled laborer who came to America under contract to work for an employer for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for their ocean transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of their indenture. They included men and women; most were under age 21, and most became helpers on farms or house servants. They were not paid wages.

So even if Bachman were to ignore completely the history of African Slavery and their bonds to our Founding Fathers, it is not true that everyone arriving from England was a FREE MAN. Some reading of history in the Northeast colonies leads to romantic story of English Pilgrims, seeking some form of religious freedom. However, the story of indentured servants and "debtors prison" workers serving Plantation Land Owners does square with Bachman's revisions. But she is not running for Historian in Chief, is she?

Posted by: rmorris391 | January 27, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

When Tea Partiers and other miscellaneous right wingers misquote history to make it sound like the past was wonderful, it is one of the most insidious forms of racism that I can think of. It creates a history that never was so that we can all feel better about them slicing the rights of minorities today. And it makes all their cohorts out there feel justified in saying we need to "take our country back." From whom? What they are really saying is they want to take it back from blacks, jews, asians, gays, anyone who is not like them. Michelle is not the smartest of these distorters, but she is perhaps the most ignorantly irritating. I may not be the biggest Chris Matthews fan, but he had it right. Balloon head.

Posted by: bradfuller | January 27, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

It's important to get a grip on a few facts:

1. Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to create documents that could be amended to change with the times or correct injustices. It worked with slavery, women's rights and in a host of other instances.

2. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the changes Progressives have made to history. They've re-written it so many times, it's a wonder they're not even dizzier than their verbiage indicates!

3. Debates over minutia like this are intentional distractions by the Left from the real issues they don't dare to discuss and are unable to win.

4. Blacks, like so many other groups, had to endure horrific circumstances but we are all graced by God to be Americans today, regardless of the trials of yesterday.

5. Our country has got to get over this ridiculous national guilt that seems to have overtaken us, the same as minorities need to get over their unproductive persecution complexes.

I've never owned a slave and none of my Black friends has ever been one. It's time to get over it and get on with it, if we are to remain a great nation.

Posted by: rsf-1 | January 27, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The only thing wrong Bachmann did was bringing up slavery to begin with. Who cares anymore. MOVE ON. Virtually no one in America has first hand knowledge of it. Yes it was a bad time in history, but that is exactly what it is, history.

Posted by: Jsuf | January 27, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Most blacks, not Michelle or Barack Obama, who live in Camden, NJ or Detroit, MI would be better off on plantations.

Posted by: ravitchn
====================================
Since you're brave enough to make that suggestion on the internet, why don't you go to Camden or Detroit or anywhere you choose and say to a black man's face. Or are you just another repub coward who's scared to death of black men?? You, ravitchn, are nothing more than a chicken coward azzhole.

Posted by: VietVet68 | January 27, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

How low must we suffer black racist poverty pimps like Capehart? Would he rather be in Africa?

Posted by: carlbatey | January 27, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article and a welcome explanation of the infamous "three fifths" provision.

I do think that the real evil of the three-fifths provision was that it allowed the slaveholding states to have it both ways, and enshrined their hypocrisy into law by granting representation to people who, in practice, were treated by the law as if they were no-fifths of a person.

Posted by: Meridian1 | January 27, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

The three-fifths clause was not a measurement of human worth; it was an attempt to reduce the number of pro-slavery proponents in Congress. By including only three-fifths of the total numbers of slaves into the congressional calculations, Southern states were actually being denied additional pro-slavery representatives in Congress.

Learn history

Posted by: Monsieur | January 27, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Matthews: Why is she whitewashing our early history?

Here's why: Because she wants to suggest that the Constitution is perfect, that the country is perfect, and that remedial action by the federal government, including the civil rights laws, is unnecessary and the result of "judicial activism." This is part of a broad Tea Party antagonism to civil rights laws, including Rand Paul and others.

Posted by: Meridian1 | January 27, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

The right likes to worship rather than think.. the whole concept of interpreting the constitution seems to be foreign to them. To them its a godly document pulled down from heaven by godly men (who were all in perfect agreement)to make a godly nation. You don't have to think, you just have to believe. Works in church, but is fatal in government.

Posted by: underhill | January 27, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The blacks are still enslaved by the white liberals.

Posted by: Defund_NPR | January 27, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of what Backman said on the Matthews show, addled or not, her performance after the State of the Nation address confirms that she is an ideologue first and into facts last. She is not and should never be a credible leader. Like many right wingers ideology first, always, and forever, facts be damned. When will we purge our government of these pawns and crooks?

Posted by: cjculver2003 | January 27, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of what Backman said on the Matthews show, addled or not, her performance after the State of the Nation address confirms that she is an ideologue first and into facts last. She is not and should never be a credible leader. Like many right wingers ideology first, always, and forever, facts be damned. When will we purge our government of these pawns and crooks?

Posted by: cjculver2003 | January 27, 2011 7:13 PM | Report abuse

@cjculver2003: Ideas before facts? So just like every other politician? Your messiah, senor obama, is all about ideas without any facts. Your old hero Olbermann had a nightly show based on his ideas. I guess I don't see what point you are trying to make.......

Posted by: Jsuf | January 27, 2011 7:37 PM | Report abuse

rsf-1 wrote:
1. Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to create documents that could be amended to change with the times or correct injustices. It worked with slavery, women's rights and in a host of other instances.

Quite true. But, if as some tea partiers contend our Constitution is perfect, why did our forefathers do this? A clue: They knew times and circumstances would change. Tea partiers do not believe times should change and want us to go back to the laws of 1890 (no social security, no medicare, etc), as though life was better then.

rsf-1 wrote:
2. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the changes Progressives have made to history. They've re-written it so many times, it's a wonder they're not even dizzier than their verbiage indicates!

Progressives do not rewrite history, they make history. It was a progressive who put this nation on a course of technological greatness after Sputnik. What has a non-progressive conservative done to advance America?

rsf-1 wrote:
3. Debates over minutia like this are intentional distractions by the Left from the real issues they don't dare to discuss and are unable to win.

Yet it was Bachmann herself making a second republican response to the SOTU. Are you saying the Left put Michele up there to act like a nincompoop IMHO?

rsf-1 wrote:
4. Blacks, like so many other groups, had to endure horrific circumstances but we are all graced by God to be Americans today, regardless of the trials of yesterday.

Not regardless of the trials of yesterday, BECAUSE of the trials of yesterday. Had King not made his speech, had Americans not protested, boycotted and organized sit-ins at lunch counters, had they not marched, not much would have happened. People died to bring about the change that allows us all to be equal Americans today. It didn't just happen, people worked, suffered and died to make it happen.

rsf-1 wrote:
5. Our country has got to get over this ridiculous national guilt that seems to have overtaken us, the same as minorities need to get over their unproductive persecution complexes.

So sad some people in this nation still feel race determines ones work ethic. The persecution complex I see is among some whites who see non-whites advancement in equality as a threat, as non-whites move into once white neighborhoods, as non-whites take on executive positions, as non-whites become national leaders. Get over it and stop thinking like it is 1961.

rsf-1 wrote:
I've never owned a slave and none of my Black friends has ever been one. It's time to get over it and get on with it, if we are to remain a great nation.

We are a great nation because we face up to our history, we acknowledge it and we recognize the inertia of those bad days carried on to this very day in the form of discrimination, most of it subtle. Getting over it and moving on is akin to ignoring history, and you know what they say about ignoring history (you are doomed to repeat it).

Posted by: Fate1 | January 27, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Monsieur, but the Three-Fifths Compromise was acceptance of the idea that slaves should be counted for apportioning representatives, even though they were not considered human beings and did not have any vote for representation.

Posted by: CherieOK | January 27, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Michele States: "it didn't matter the color of their skin...their language...their economic status...once you got here, we were all the same." Yes, lets ignore the real history of racism against blacks, jews, immigrants from Italy, Poland, Ireland, China, Japan, Mexico, the Middle East.... As many people on this board have pointed out, the legacy of racism was wiped out long ago, lets not fuss over when, "its irrelevant" and it no longer exists. Let us instead worry about how liberals are threatening to end the perfect America with freedom for all. Grab your guns fellow americans! This may be our last fight.

Posted by: MeasureThis | January 27, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry (cherieok)
You probably learned "history" from a public school. Your simply wrong what I said was true. Re-learn your own history. Or founding fathers left a lot of stuff unfinished so that we would finish it as people, not the government.
All I can say is I would not hire you at my company if your ideas of early American were distorted by liberal lies and agendas.

Posted by: Monsieur | January 27, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

"Your simply wrong what I said was true." Monsieur, even with my public school education, I know the difference between "your" and "you're," and I can identify a run-on sentence (not to mention other errors in your post). Would I want to work at your company? No.

Posted by: jlclarkson | January 28, 2011 1:59 AM | Report abuse

There are two third rails on Matthews shows.
1. If you start sounding like Joe McCarthy, he will be all over you. Michelle Bachmann and Anne Coulter.

2. If you don't have your history straight, he goes ballistic. Michelle Bachmann and Kevin James.

I have never heard "balloon head" used toward a female, until this time. It is not sexist, it is a non-gender term pointed toward, empty brains. He was no kinder to Kevin James.

I think the writer of this article has Bachmann pegged in a less vociferous manner. I actually was a bit taken back she had as much understanding of John Quincy as she did. I was a bit disappointed Matthews did not at least give her that much credit. However, it is typical Bachmann. Graduate of Orel Roberts University, she views everything from belief, as if it is religion. It is a preconceived notion and what she reads, it either justifies her belief, or she rejects it. Her inspiration to get into politics was Gore Vidal's book "Burr". Since Vidal wrote the book focused on the humanity of the founding fathers, it did not match Bachmann's view of political sainthood of the founding fathers. This view of our founding fathers, and Lincoln is common. No one accepts fallibility. Jefferson, Adams and Washington all had very weak personality flaws we all ignore. Washington's genocidal order against the Iroquois during The Sullivan-Clinton campaign. The fact his men could not follow such a terrible order, is all that saved his reputation. Adams and Jefferson both ran rough shod over the Constitution. Attempts to suppress speech stick out in my memory. If you really take a critical view of them all, they were great men, who made mistakes, serious mistakes. It was hard to leave behind the traps of power. Our founding fathers were not just aristocrats. It was very common people, who called them on their abuses. That is when we are greatest. When Washington's men did not follow orders, they taught Washington, he was not ruler, he had to have consent. Frederick Douglas, Mother Jones, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, held our leaders feet to the fire. Not by blind following, but by mutual consent. That is what Bachmann and many of her fellow countrymen don't get. The great leaders are great because they were smart enough to realize they led a great nation, with great citizens, who eventually demand justice. Most all of our rights were not won by military fighting foreign wars. Men women and children fought for, bled for and died for every right we take for granted in our own streets. Challenging leadership that is all too human. The great leaders don't just listen to the powerful. Lincoln ignored the plantation owners. Teddy Roosevelt ignored the giant corporations. That is why they are great. Both are prime examples of American leadership. Leadership Bachmann does not quite get. Some of our greatest leaders have at the same time been human enough to not get it.

Posted by: GriffBennett | January 28, 2011 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Bachmann was a phony, Bachmann is a phony, Bachmann will always be a phony....

Posted by: ners1507 | January 28, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Bachmann was a phony, Bachmann is a phony, Bachmann will always be a phony....

Posted by: ners1507 | January 28, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

What I find fascinating is that Bachmann - born in Iowa and raised in Minnesota for most of her life - espouses a view of history most often found in southern revisionist education a' la South Carolina, where the Civil War was all about "states' rights."

Posted by: tcb_va | January 28, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

What I find fascinating is that Bachmann - born in Iowa and raised in Minnesota for most of her life - espouses a view of history most often found in southern revisionist education a' la South Carolina, where the Civil War was all about "states' rights."

Posted by: tcb_va | January 28, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The ignorance is, again, the people who criticize Bachmann. All she said was that the founding fathers work tirelessly to end slavery. That they were opposed to slavery and believd slavery had no place in our Republic.

Her critics point out that founding fathers had slaves themselves, indeed they did, and that there were many instances of compromise with the institution of slavery in the years of the founding fathers.

All of which is true, and all of which is completely irrelevant. The issue here is one's attitude re our founding fathers, their politics - or better the reason for their politics.

There is no doubt that the founding fathers were opposed to slavery. It is also true that they had no choice but to compromise with it.

For unforgiving condemners there is no context to anything. For example, Adam's lukewarm support of abolition and his role in the Amistad case are cited as the corruption of the founding fathers, at least one of the, in this matter.

Adam's concern in the Amistad case was one of habeas corpus and he was against the power of the state to turn over individuals to a foreign power else what man or women would be safe. His luke warm support for many abolitionists portends what? That he was in favor of slavery, or was it that he felt the way abolitionists wanted to end slavery would do harm to the Republic? It seems likely the latter as the end of slavery did almost wreck our Republic.

The attitude our founding fathers had for Slavery is being inferred by actions. Can't be done. Our Founding Fathers were opposed to slavery.

History has forced our founding fathers to contend with others issues as well. This is unfortunate, it would have been better if they could have been active moralists on this question, but they couldn't

Posted by: lawrencekaplan | January 28, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Palin and Bachmann (I matriculated in the latter's home state) remind of many of those I went to college with. They wallowed in their ignorance, speaking with authority, if not accuracy, about politics and history. And if anyone tried to point out their faulty facts or reasoning, they were instantly dubbed as arrogant and elitist. Now, I guess they have infiltrated the halls of governance. Either we must accept this "Revenge of the (Mental) Turds", or in the case of Palin and Bachmann, have mercy on them, and get them both to the nearest gas station where their low PSI count can be remedied.

Posted by: drobbins2 | January 28, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@lawrencekaplan

If the founding fathers were indeed working tirelessly to end slavery wouldn't the easiest first step have been to free their own slaves?

Not only would that directly end slavery for particular individuals, it would serve as an example to follow. Presumably they were respected men whose actions would be watched and possibly emulated.

What was it specifically that forced them to compromise their tireless opposition?

Quote from TJ: "I am decided on my final return to America to try this one. I shall endeavor to import as many Germans as I have grown slaves. I will settle them and my slaves, on farms of 50. acres each, intermingled, and place all on the footing of the Metayers of Europe. Their children shall be brought up, as others are, in habits of property and foresight, and I have no doubt but that they will be good citizens. Some of their fathers will be so: others I suppose will need government...."

Fine words, but where's the evidence he ever decided to put action behind them? Never mind the racist overtones that imply blacks are simply incapable of handling freedom that show up in other quotes of his.

There are plenty of fine quotes from some of the founding fathers that disparage slavery, but most are of the tone "Yeah, it's a debasement of human freedom, but boy it could be real sticky to get rid of it." That to me is not working tirelessly to eliminate the institution of slavery.

Ben Franklin willed one of his slaves to be freed upon his (Franklin's) death, but old Ben outlived the slave. Why on earth do you suppose it was necessary for Ben to die for his slave to be freed?

And please dispense with the ad hominem attacks claiming that "liberals" want to tear down and disparage the founding fathers. I think it's more a case of recognizing that they too were human beings, not some larger-than-life figures whose behavior should never be questioned.

Posted by: DougChance | January 29, 2011 5:25 AM | Report abuse

"They created a document of governance that allows it to be changed to right unforeseen wrongs. That's why we revere those learned men and that's what makes the Constitution the envy of and a model for the world."

This is one a one-way good. Remember, we still have widespread discrimination against gay and lesbian people and their families, and attempts by the Bachmann's of the world to write that discrimination into our Constitution.

Posted by: t_parker16 | January 30, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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