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January 18, 2008

Huckabee Unfairly Criticized For "Living, Breathing Constitution" Line

I think this says more about his off-the-cuff dog-ate-my-homework thought processes, such as they are, than about his actual concept of constitutionalism.

There's no doubt that the "living Constitution" terminology is one favored by the left as a justification for changing by judicial fiat what is supposed to be an unchangeable document (save for Amendments, a process of change clearly spelled out in the Constitution). That is I think what Bryan seizes upon in
critiquing the Happy Huckster.

But Huck here is, I think, in context, defending the basic notion that the Constitution can be changed by the amendment process and always was envisioned as being changeable via this route. He's defending his idea of outlawing abortion and gay marriage by amendment (not by judicial fiat), so while he's using the language favored by the left to explain that there is nothing "unconstitutional" about changing the Constitution by the amendment process explicitly contained within in it, he's not saying anything particularly outrageous from a conservative point of view.

Whether or not the amendments he seeks are desirable or politically possible -- or more likely just silly panders to his core constituency -- is another question. But no one, certainly not conservatives who believe, ultimately, in the Constitution and its plan for a supermajoritarian process of amending it, can really find too much fault with the Huckster here.

Hell, even on his use of the language of the left, I give him a pass. It's really just using their own claims against them -- they're forever claiming the Constitution can be changed on a judge's whim because it's a "living, breathing document," so certainly it can be changed by the process explicitly coded within it.

We all believe in a living, breathing Constitution, ultimately. The difference is that the left thinks that a judge can amend the Constitution, whereas an American who actually believes in the document thinks it requires 2/3rds of both houses of Congress and 3/4s of the state legislatures. There is textual support for one but not the other.

On the other hand, Huck's apparent desire to be named the Republican nominee so that he can lose 63-35 in the general election has spurred him to embrace the Confederate flag, which is simply politically toxic. And once again he injects this painful issue into the GOP nomination process so that all the other candidates can suffer.

I guess maybe he saw an opening to peel away some of Ron Paul's neoconfederate support.

Kinda-sorta related, Ray Robinson writes of federalism and Thompson's principled embrace of it -- not just the standard form of federalism when I want the states to win, national control when the states aren't doing what I'd prefer -- and how that can sell in South Carolina and the south generally.

Oh, and Fred picks up another endorsement: Melanie Morgan of Move America Forward.

Apologies... In a rush to write and write "punchy," I first wrote that Bryan "tore Huck a new one." He objected to that, stating that he didn't rant and in fact announced his intent not to rant.

I changed that "tore Huck a new one" to "critiqued him." It's far closer to the mark; I just couldn't think of something better than the anodyne "critique" as I wrote, so I overstated not to distort Bryan's post but rather just to avoid a lame word.

The lame word says it better, though.

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posted by Ace at 03:46 PM

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