Beck Deconstruction, part three

(Continued from Beck Deconstruction Part Two)

NAPOLITANO: We are suffering from the big government seeds that they planted. We’re suffering from them today.

We’re suffering? I thought we were the “the most prosperous, stable nation in history of the world.” I guess we must not be suffering that much.(END VIDEOTAPE)

BECK: I’d also like to point out here that not all progressive presidents of the 20th century were Democrats. As you know, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican. Teddy Roosevelt was the beginning of the progressive party. He started it.

And who else? Herbert Hoover. And the Hoover family always gets angry at me when I say this, but Hoover was a self-described progressive who believed in regulation and actually started the first New Deal.

Hoover described himself as a progressive, but he adhered to classic tenets of modern conservativism: promotion of the voluntarism philosophy, fiscal self-reliance, and along with his Treasury Secretary, supporting some of the largest high-income tax cuts ever seen.


SUBTITLE: Progressives are Republicans, too!

NAPOLITANO: Herbert Hoover has this historic reputation as a champion of the free market whose way had to be corrected by FDR. He was a progressive in Woodrow Wilson/Theodore Roosevelt vein. He attempted central planning of the economy which was picked up by FDR. It was he who imposed or the Republicans under him ruined this tariffs which made it impossible to import goods at reasonable fair market values, which caused retaliation from other countries, which made it impossible to export goods at a fair market value.

Here, Mr. Napolitano is almost certainly talking about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Hoover himself hated the act, calling it “vicious, extortionate, and obnoxious,” and only signed it after pressure from party leaders.

I don’t know how this happened but one of my goals is to correct this historical misreading of Herbert Hoover. He was as bad as Theodore Roosevelt and he laid the groundwork for Franklin Roosevelt, and he was a Republican in name only.

Hoover, more than anyone else in his era, was a moderate. He believed in government-business cooperation, and most of his fiscal policies were passed after the Depression began, so implicitly blaming progressive policies for the 1929 stock market crash is intellectually dishonest.


BECK: So, what constitutes an offender of the Constitution? And what does it take to become a defender?

Yes, Mr. Beck, we’re either with you or against you. But the Constitution is not conservative property; those of a progressive philosophy can defend the Constitution as well. For instance, regard former Democratic senator John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth, who served in the Armed Forces during World War II and the Korean War, who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the National Defense Service Medal, and a plethora of other distinctions. Are you saying John Glenn is an “offender” of the Constitution, whatever that means? Of course you are. You’re Glenn Beck.


SUBTITLE: What makes someone an offender or defender of the Constitution?

BARTON: Someone who is a defender of the Constitution is someone who understands complete philosophy of the Constitution. And to be a defender of the Constitution doesn’t mean you just want limited government. It also means you want to protect individual rights just as much as you want to limit government.

So, you have Ronald Reagan who — and today we would call him both a social and an economic conservative. In other words, he wants deregulation, he wants the federal government smaller, he wants it doing less, he wants business as being encouraged, he wants prosperity. It comes from free enterprise. That’s all good.

He wants less regulation. He wants less intrusion. But on the side, he understood the inalienable rights.

If you look at someone like Eisenhower — Eisenhower, I mean, he desegregated Washington, D.C., but he understood the Southern mentality of the kind of racism there, but he went and took the federal government and made sure that 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were going to be upheld in Arkansas, and in Tennessee and in Texas after the desegregation case in 1954 where the Supreme Court actually got the right decision through the wrong logic, but they upheld the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments.

Here, you got Eisenhower saying, I don’t care what my personal views are. This is a constitutional issue. And I’m going to do it with constitutional means. So, people can criticize him for taking in the National Guard and federalizing it, but he was still upholding the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments.

Yes, Reagan and Eisenhower defended the Constitution. But so did Wilson and Roosevelt, by winning world wars. Defense of the Constitution is not, in the modern day, inherently conservative or liberal, Mr. Barton. More than anything else, it is American — and politicians of all stripes support this American value, and have throughout history.

And that’s really how you have to judge between the defender and an offender of the Constitution is whether they use constitutional means to try to solve the problems or whether they got these brilliant ideas and went around the Constitution to try to solve the problems. And that nearly always characterize the difference between the good guys and the bad guys on constitutional issues.

Yes, those who follow the Constitution are generally considered defenders of it. However, the only problem is under that definition, progressives are defenders of the Constitution as well! I expected better, Mr. Barton.

NAPOLITANO: Amongst those of us who study the Constitution for a living, you could find violations of it, significant violations of it in virtually every single presidency, starting with George Washington and up to President Obama.

So wait – were Reagan and Eisenhower defenders of the Constitution, or weren’t they?

Also, combining this with Beck’s earlier statement about America’s prosperity, an amusing deduction presents itself. If constitutional violations occurred this often throughout history, they must have made a large impact on America. However, if this impact was wholly negative, one could reason that due to the magnitude of these violations, we would not be seeing this ‘prosperity’ which Beck applauds. Therefore, in some cases, constitutional violation and offense helps America? Constitutional offense is constitutional defense. Also, war is peace, and ignorance is strength.

The strongest defenders from the Constitution from those of us who study it for a living typically are only two: Thomas Jefferson and Grover Cleveland. Jefferson, of course, plainly argued that many of the things that the federalists had done, like the Alien and Sedition Acts, he simply would have nothing to do with.

And yet, as  I mentioned earlier, he achieved the constitutionally questionable Louisiana Purchase, despite his own misgivings. He felt supremacy across the Mississippi River (France was threatening to sell to Britain instead) was more important than the constitutional issue.

Grover Cleveland, on the other hand, vetoed many, many pieces of legislation, more vetoes because of the absence of authority for the legislative act of the Constitution, than any other president of the history — an unsung hero for constitutional law.


And so the transcript ends, not with a bang of falsehood, but with a whimper of irrelevance. #



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