"Bill Whittle, you may have put the nation on the road to recovery of the Founders' enlightened vision of freedom singlehandedly," we wrote in the caption to our post "A Declaration of Independence: Art for freedom's sake" last March: "Longhandedly, that is, as in writing out the Declaration of Independence longhand. We've completed the first part (three 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, above) and found the exercise a revelation."
"It's an air kiss they're blowing to the tea party," Barney Frank dismisses the House Republican majority's "new rule requiring members to cite the specific constitutional authority for any bill they introduce." The lower chamber's first order of business on Thursday, one day after Speaker-designate John Boehner is sworn in, will be a reading aloud of the Constitution, a shock to the system of those like Frank who have lost sight of the Shining City through the fog of their willful misreading of the Founders' intent. Jonah Goldberg explains Barney's Complaint in a must-read little masterpiece of the essayist's art that plays with progressives' eleutherophobia:
According to many commentators, Speaker-to-Be John Boehner and his crew of zealots have some very scary ideas. Chief among them: They want to make some obscure, inscrutable tract from an ancient civilization the centerpiece of their legislative philosophy. Indeed, in a move generating consternation and exasperation at MSNBC and other bastions of right-thinking, these cultists will read their perversely sacred text at the opening of the legislative session, breaking with more than 200 years of precedent.
During the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, the denigration of the Constitution began, led by such luminaries as Princeton scholar and future President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, future Harvard Law School Dean Roscoe Pound and future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
As a professor at Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson wrote condescendingly of "the simple days of 1787" when the Constitution was written and how, in our presumably more complex times, "each generation of statesmen looks to the Supreme Court to supply the interpretation which will serve the needs of the day …
As Roscoe Pound put it, law should be "in the hands of a progressive and enlightened caste whose conceptions are in advance of the public." That is still the vision of the left a hundred years later. The Constitution cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution, by voting out those who promote end runs around it.
"The annoying thing is they used to be honest about this," observes Jonah:
Woodrow Wilson openly expressed his contempt for fidelity to the Constitution, preferring a "living" Constitution that social planners can rewrite at a glance to fit the changing times.
But in recent years, liberals have retreated from admitting that the Constitution is inconvenient to arguing that it is either simply irrelevant or infinitely malleable. [Enter Ezra Klein, stage left.]
Beyond the disinguousness of their sales pitch, the problem with the liberal/progressive project has always been their utopian denial of life's dark side in ourselves, the tragic view of human nature that we are forever flogging here. It was Bill Whittle — the fearless freedom fighter whose "Imperishable" inspired us all to write out in longhand and whisper out loud the words of the Declaration last winter (see caption above) — who said it best in "The Iceberg" last summer. A few excerpts:
But Progressivism is not progressive – it’s ancient. Cyclical. It’s circular. It is, in fact, the symptom and the eventual cause of impending collapse.
In fact, in all of human history, there has been only one genuinely progressive, genuinely liberating idea: a lightning bolt across the pages of history – the why in 1776, the how in 1787 – the idea of limited government, god-given rights, personal liberty and rule by the vast collective wisdom and industry of the common man, and not by the bored, pampered and self-hating elites that have run everything before and since. This is a once-in-history idea. This is why we have to conserve it. We have to conserve this fundamentally liberal idea.
As Scott Ott wrote in his defense of Sarah Palin's "death panels" two summers back:
Journalism professionals would also benefit from reading some American history, including our founding documents. Our founders had a deep understanding of human nature, shaped by their lifelong, exhaustive study of history and philosophy and of the book that best encapsulates both — the Bible.
Update: Michelle Malkin Buzzworthy link!