Sunday, October 22, 2006

David Barton Watch:

If he were some fringe figure associated with the so called "Constitution Party" only, I wouldn't spend so much time paying attention to him. But he's not. He was the Vice-Chair of the Texas Republican Party. He is also, apparently, Senator Sam Brownback's hero. From the People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch:

"So far, Rep. Todd Akin, Rep. Bobby Jindal, and Sen. Sam Brownback have all appeared on Barton’s program and were effusive in their praise and flattery for Barton and his work.

"For instance, Sen. Brownback, appearing on October 17th

"Dave Barton is one of my big heroes. When I first got into the United States Senate, I was watching some of his videos and it made me mad that we walk over so much of the beautiful heritage that makes our history come to life and he’s done a great job of that , so I’m honored to be on with … one of my heroes, Dave Barton.

"The following day, Rep. Bobby Jindal appeared on the program and went on at length about the importance of Barton’s work, which is not too surprising considering that earlier this month, Barton traveled Louisiana with Jindal where the two made several joint appearances...."

The link also has a great line from Arlen Specter on Barton: "Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter has blasted his work, saying Barton’s 'pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people.'"

My thoughts exactly.


Tom Van Dyke said...

I guess I've been registering something like this on your blog, Jon, by Matthew Frank in today's NRO:

Where individual founders might align themselves in today’s debate on religion’s role in politics is a fun guessing game, but as James Madison rightly said (I paraphrase), the authoritative understanding of the Constitution is not that of a handful of founders like himself who drafted the text, but that of the people who made that text the basis of their government.

Have your studies brought you to the quote Franck refers to? You're the pro here.

That said, from what I've read of David Barton, he's a charlatan and fabricator, and any place he's made in our polity is alarming, and your opposition to him is praiseworthy.

What is missing from the public debate in my mind is that "church," as in church and state, is not synonymous with "religion," as in "philosophy with some mojo in it."

Jonathan said...


You seem to have the knack of hitting the million dollar questions.

I don't, off the top of my head, have the quotation from Madison to which he refers. But Frank is correct that the proper way to understand the Constitution or founding principles is not the way a particular Founder or core group of Founders thought such might apply, but rather by the original meaning the text would have to the population at large.

And this in turn raises a huge controversy because such "originalism meaning originalism" which by its very nature rejects "orignal intent," may come to one conclusion when it asks how "the people," expected such provisions to apply vis-a-vis a specific case in controversy during that particular era, those same principles logically and consistently applied in the present day and age, may yield results that differ in very meaningful ways from such "original expectation originalism."

I.E. "All men are created Equal" may in the minds of the population at large during 1776 mean "all white propertied Protestant males" are created equal, but in today's day in age, it means all human beings are created equal regardless of race, gender, or religion...and perhaps, other things as well..."sexual orientation?"

Tom Van Dyke said...

I think things have undeniably trended that way for the last 30 years, as to the equality of the person.

The proposition that all sexualities, and their place in societal structure, are created equal make take awhile longer. It's also important to note that the D of I formulation is not in the Constitution, and that women and persons of color were specifically addressed by Constitutional amendments, and not by judicial interpretation.

On the other hand, there was no groundswell against the overturning of Lawrence v. Texas, so aside from opposition to using the constitution to precipitate changes in the structure of society, the emancipation of gay folk as individuals appears to be on a steady uptick.