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Joy Behar’s Stupid Question

Posted on January 5 2011 9:00 am
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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It has often been said that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it’s never stupid to seek answers, but it’s not hard to come up with examples of inane inquiries.

Consider a recent gem from the cantankerous Joy Behar. In a discussion with leftist radio talker Bill Press, she marveled at the anticipated reading of the entire U.S. Constitution from the House floor.

Do you think this Constitution-loving is getting out of hand?

If ever there were a stupid question, this is it. What does out of hand Constitution-loving look like? Is it possible for elected officials, sworn to uphold the document, to love it too much? Is that really a danger?

Behar’s question only makes sense from a paradigm which regards the Constitution as a negative. As radio talk show host Jason Lewis pointed out in our recent interview regarding his book on federalism, the Constitution is fundamental to a republican form of government.

If we didn’t need limited government, we wouldn’t need a constitution. We would have just said, “Here’s the federal government. They can do what they want.” We enumerate these powers for a reason. We don’t like unchecked power.

The only reason anyone would regard “Constitution-loving” as “getting out of hand” is because they don’t want the government to be limited. Otherwise, it is absurd to imagine that elected officials serving in a republic could hold too high an esteem for its constitution. As a federal official, there is no “erring” on the side of the document which enumerates your powers. Your actions either comport with the Constitution, or they do not. It is not possible for federal officials to behave constitutionally to a fault.

Either Behar does not understand what a constitution is (a very distinct possibility), or she holds to the view President Obama articulated to NPR while a mere state senator in Illinois.

The Supreme Court [during the Civil Rights era] never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted. And the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the state can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted.

Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt likewise expressed frustration with constitutional bounds, believing they could do much more for the country if unleashed from their constitutional moorings. This is the core of so-called progressivism, which we could just as well term anti-constitutionalism. It is a paradigm which Behar quite apparently shares, where one can “err” on the side of the Constitution, love it too much, and thus undermine the agenda of the Left.

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