One of Jay Leno’s funniest bits on the Tonight Show is when he goes trolling in Hollywood for people who know nothing about America. They don’t know what country we fought to be independent from, what century the Civil War was in, etc.
MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews is a frequent Leno guest; but Thursday night, he proved he’s been in the wrong part of the show. He should be featured in “Jay Walking.”
Matthews and Salon.com’s Joan Walsh teamed up against Tea Party activist Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring. With condescension dripping from their tone, these two supposedly intelligent members of the media tried to lecture Hanna on the Constitution, but proved themselves as dumb as any “Jay-walker.”
As Walsh nodded in approval, Matthews accused the Tea Partiers of wanting to bring back slavery, and didn’t know the Bill of Rights was part of the original Constitutional discussion, or that the Republican Party wasn’t formed until just before the Civil War. For good measure, he also threw in the closing shot that “patriot” was an “exclusive” term that offends him.
And Hanna took these “smart kids” to school and beat them up for their lunch money.
Here is Chris’s tryout for “Jay-walking” and his contribution to future blonde jokes.
MATTHEWS: If the original document, the Constitution, was so perfect, why did we need 10 amendments right up front Colin? Why do we need the 2nd Amendment for the gun guys, right up front, if it was a perfect document. We started amending pretty early, didn’t we?
HANNA: Actually we started the amendments, Chris, if you, well before the actual document was made.
MATTHEWS: Well to get them approved because the Republican Party insisted on the amendments.
HANNA: No, no, no. Many of those things that became the rights are laid out in the amendments, the first 10, the Bill of Rights were, in fact, derivations of other documents that actually predated the Constitution.
MATTHEWS: Oh sure, sure. The colonial documents. Well not colonial but the, the, the state charge. But look- [DF—WHAT?]
HANNA: Right. But look here’s, here’s, here’s the point. Here’s the point…
MATTHEWS: But here’s the point. Don’t we have, if you get into this first principle thing we can’t even have an Air Force. There’s no Air Force in the Constitution. Is there?
Hm. For 8 years, Chris has been insisting that wiretapping foreign terrorists in “un-Constitutional. Pretty sure cell phones aren’t in the Constitution either…
First, the Republican Party was formed in 1854 as an anti-slavery party, Lincoln, Chris—you may have heard of him—was its first President. While he’s just as revered, HE WAS NOT A FOUNDER. When Lincoln used the phrase “Four score and seven years ago,” (that means 87, Chris) he was talking about the Founding. You know, the Gettysburg Address? Ring any bells?
(And don’t even try to say you meant Thomas Jefferson’s party, the Democratic-Republican Party which was called “Republicans” by their contemporaries. It wasn’t formed until 1800.)
Second, Hanna schooled you pretty well on the Bill of Rights, but one other point. The only controversy over the first 10 Amendments—which were passed in the first Congress after the Constitution was ratified in 1787, was whether the original document already implied that everything them was already covered. They were NOT considered a “change” to the document.
Third, you ninny, the military IS covered in the Constitution, which sets up a Commander-in-Chief and designates war powers. Kind of like including cable news as part of “the press” when it comes to the First Amendment? Get it?
Oh, and as far as Amendments go, “going back to the Constitution” would include the Amendments, including the 13th, 14th, and 15th, genius.
Now, tell me why I should think that Chris Matthews is any more knowledgeable than anyone in this Jay Walking segment.
Not to be outdone in historical ignorance, Joan Walsh got into the act:
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Well yeah Chris. I mean what, one of the things I really resent. Mr. Hanna said it’s an inclusive movement but it certainly doesn’t include people like me and that’s their prerogative-
HANNA: No it’s your prerogative.
WALSH: But more than that it demonizes liberals, it demonizes Democrats. Thank you it’s mutual here. But it demonizes liberals, it demonizes Democrats as though we’re hostile to the Founders, we’re hostile to the Constitution. And I think those of us on the Democratic side really look back on a wonderful set of Founders a wonderful set of founding documents but say back in the day women could not vote, African-Americans were mostly property. Asians and Latinos were excluded and so we’ve needed some updating. We needed Social Security and Medicare because the life expectancy of people back then was about 35 or 40. So we’ve needed some updating. We’re proud of the updating we’ve done, but we are, we still hue to the original values and to the original principles. And so I never liked being told that we’re not patriots or we’re not respecting the Constitution. I don’t see that at all.
Perhaps Joan can enlighten us as to when the Social Security and Medicare Amendments to the Constitution were passed, or point out the references to Asians and Latinos excluding them from citizenship…?
Hanna was undaunted by the rants and answered calmly and rationally.
HANNA: What, the mistake Joan was making was that she was talking about how some of the policies of the 18th century didn’t follow the principle of liberty for example. That’s entirely true. There were all kinds of policy errors that we made, certainly the tolerance of slavery, all of those things are things that can and should be corrected. No one is arguing for them as any kind of standard of perfection. But the fundamental principles of the founding. The principles of individual liberty, of ordered liberty, of, of, of limited government, those are principles that today when we look at them they appear to be very conservative. But in point of fact, that was the center of the spectrum at that time and that’s what’s being re-established right now, Chris, with this Mount Vernon Statement that was signed today.
WALSH: …I’m glad to hear Colin say he is against slavery and I believe most people are. I really do believe that.
Gee, thanks, Joan.
There is more, much more, along these lines, and you can check it out if you like.
Chris took his final shot, with the old leftie cliche about the word “patriotism.”
MATTHEWS: …Back in the beginnings of our country – and you’re a student, we all are, of our history [DF-- I think you disproved that, Chris]– there was a real honest debate between how strong a central government we have and how much should it be distributed among small farmers. The sort of Jeffersonians against the Hamiltonians. But Jefferson didn’t accuse Hamilton of being unpatriotic. He didn’t say “You’re not one of us.” He said, “You have a different view.” The trouble with your crowd is if you take a strong big government view, if you think we ought to have a little bit more socialism like health care, which is a point of view, you guys say we’re not American. And I’ve got say wait a minute, you can have people on the left who are just as American as people on the right. You’ve got people on the right who want to secede from the Union! Don’t tell me somebody wants to secede from the Union is more patriotic than somebody who would like to see a national health care system like Tony Weiner. I’m sorry, just because you disagree doesn’t mean the other guy ain’t one of us! And that’s what-. I hear this word “patriot,” and I don’t like it. I think it excludes people who aren’t with your point of view. That’s all I’m saying. And what does a patriot mean these days? This isn’t a re-enactment play!
HANNA: I would fundamentally disagree with you because-
MATTHEWS: Why do you use the word patriot?
HANNA: Because you’re using entirely negative terms and I don’t think that this is a movement, either the conservative movement or the tea party movement which is using the negative terms in anything like the way you are. They are using positive terms and if you feel excluded by the positive terms-
MATTHEWS: Yeah I do.
HANNA: Frankly Chris, that’s your problem-
MATTHEWS: It is my problem!
HANNA: It’s not, it’s not our, it’s not our problem, because we’re stating it positively.
Chris, you are a patriot– just like you’re a student of American history.
It’s interesting that as Barack Obama’s agenda tanks with the American people that the new MSNBC tactic– by both Matthews and Olbermann– is to trash the American Founding. Is this self-revealing, or what?