Constitutional Ignorance

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

I see that my co-blogger MJ Andrew has already posted about the Christine O’Donnell-Chris Coons debate, and I thank him as that saves me the trouble of having to sort through a whole bunch of links.

I disagree with him, though somewhat reservedly.  Having listened to the entire clip it does seem to me that O’Donnell is questioning whether the concept of the separation of Church and State is in the First Amendment, not the Establishment Clause.  There was some crosstalk at this point in the debate, and it appears to me that she’s just repeating her question with regards to the issue of separation.  It’s debatable, though, and a candidate should do a better job clearly establishing what she’s talking about in such a setting.

That being the case,  I was more intrigued by  Coons’s own response to the question.  While O’Donnell possibly made a gaffe – an unfortunate one if indeed it was a gaffe – Coons’s response is the more troubling aspect of this exchange. Read the rest of this entry »


O’Donnell and Disingenuous Politics

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Some of us here at TAC enjoy having a little fun at the expense of politicians who make outrageous gaffes. I, myself, certainly enjoy indulging occasionally in a YouTube compilation of a particular politician’s vocal miscues. With the likes of Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin headlining the political laughfest, the GOP seems particularly apt at keeping the gaffes flowing. Of course, we cannot forget the Democrats’ own gaffe-machine, Joe Biden, who, unlike the aforementioned three, only seems to make the news because of a gaffe. Sometimes these gaffes are the result of “gotcha” journalism. Sometimes they are the result of blanking under pressure. Sometimes they are jokes gone wrong. Other times, they really point to a politician’s ignorance on an issue or topic. I don’t think a politician’s proclivity to make gaffes itself necessarily indicates that a politician is unqualified for or unworthy of a given office, though such a proclivity accompanied by other possibly worrisome characteristics in a politician (e.g., having a robust rap sheet, being a fan of light beer) may be sufficient to render him or her unsuitable for certain offices.

I want to focus on that subset of gaffes that showcase a politician’s or political candidate’s ignorance on an issue or topic. And let me demarcate a subset of that subset: the gaffes that are more than just gaffes–the gaffes that call into question the genuineness of the one who utters them. Such gaffes were on full display during a debate this morning between two of Delaware’s senatorial candidates, Christine O’Donnell and Chris Coons. At Widener Law School in front of an audience partly composed of university students and law professors, O’Donnell’s made multiple gaffes when discussing the contents of the Constitution. These gaffes were not of the Quayle/Palin varietal, however, for they raise serious questions about her honesty and intentions in running for the U.S. Senate, as well as about her understanding of her own platform.

Read the rest of this entry »


TAC NFL Rankings, Week 6

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Parity continues to reign. We’re starting to get the idea that in the NFC, it’ll probably be an NFC South showdown between the Dirty Birds of Atlanta and the Saints who finally had an offensive breakthrough this week, and the Giants and Eagles playing spoilers. However, the AFC looks to be far beyond the NFC.

To the rankings! Read the rest of this entry »


The Angel of Marye’s Heights

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

Richard Rowland Kirkland is a name that should be cherished by every American.  On December 13, 1862 he was a sergeant in Company G, 2nd South Carolina.  The day was ending and his regiment was stationed at the stone wall at the base of Marye’s Heights overlooking Fredericksburg.  His unit had helped smash Union attack after Union attack, and now he looked over fields strewn with wounded and dead Union soldiers.  He could hear the wounded Union soldiers crying out desperately for water.

Unable to bear the cries any longer, he approached Brigadier General Joseph Kershaw and informed him of what he wanted to do.  Kershaw gave him his permission, but told him he was unable to authorize a flag of truce.  Kirkland said that was fine and he would simply have to take his chances.  Gathering up all the canteens and blankets he could carry, Kirkland slipped over the wall, realizing that without a flag of truce it was quite possible he would be fired upon by Union troops.

Kirkland began to give drinks to Union wounded and blankets to protect them from the cold.  Union troops, recognizing what he was doing, did not fire at him.  For hours Kirkland went back and forth tending to the enemy wounded.  He did not stop until he had assisted all Union wounded in the Confederate portion of the battlefield.  The last Union soldier he assisted he gave his own overcoat.  He was repeatedly cheered by both Union and Confederate soldiers. Read the rest of this entry »