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Archive of Articles in the "The Constitution" Category

Friday Talking Points -- Republican Senators Prepare To Violate A Sworn Oath

[ Posted Friday, January 17th, 2020 – 17:46 UTC ]

This doublethink continued this week, as every sitting senator (except the one who was absent due to a family medical emergency) swore a solemn oath to be an impartial juror -- an oath that several Republicans have already publicly promised to utterly disregard. Because, you know, all that business about being for law and order and all that tut-tutting over the sins of "moral relativism" is so 1990s.

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Friday Talking Points -- The Madman Theory, Personified

[ Posted Friday, January 10th, 2020 – 18:29 UTC ]

We've said it before and we're sure we'll have to say it again before the year's out, but President Trump is the personification of what Richard Nixon used to call the "Madman Theory" of foreign policy. Back then, it was a bluff -- if Nixon acted crazy enough, then perhaps the North Vietnamese would think he was so crazy he might just drop a nuclear bomb on them. This would tend to restrain them more than if they were sure he wouldn't.

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Precedent Trump

[ Posted Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 18:23 UTC ]

Today, I'd like to step back from a day-to-day analysis of Donald Trump's actions in order to look at a slightly bigger picture. Because at this point, it almost seems like we should all start calling him "Precedent Trump," since he is setting so many of them for future presidents to either use or abuse at will. Republicans who now slavishly insist upon supporting anything and everything Trump does -- no matter how outrageous, no matter how disruptive -- should be warned that future presidents (Democratic ones most definitely included) may one day point to current GOP behavior while insisting that they have exactly the same rights that Trump has claimed for himself. Because this is always the ultimate test of supporting any expansion of presidential powers: would you support a president of the other party doing such a thing? Again, Republicans would do well to consider this in the Trump era, because it's my guess that some of these precedents are going to come back to bite them later on. And it'll be pretty tough for them to argue against these precedents after so wholeheartedly supporting them now.

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Friday Talking Points -- On The Brink

[ Posted Friday, January 3rd, 2020 – 18:23 UTC ]

As we sit down to write this, America is on the brink... of a lot of things, all at once. Largest among these: we are now on the brink of another war in the Middle East, this time with Iran. We could also be on the brink of a North Korean nuclear test or I.C.B.M. launch, which would probably signal a disastrous end to the Trump diplomatic bromance with Kim Jong Un. We're on the brink of a presidential impeachment trial in the Senate -- only the third one in our entire history. We're on the brink of a presidential primary season. And we're on the brink of a new political decade. All are pretty momentous, meaning that 2020 could turn out to be even more chaotic than the three years which preceded it. There's a scary (or just plain exhausting) thought, indeed.

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Looking Ahead To The Next Decade

[ Posted Thursday, January 2nd, 2020 – 16:34 UTC ]

I'm writing my first 2020 column looking ahead to not the new year but the entire next decade. Before I begin, I have to admit that I'm one of those pedants who point out (every ten years) that turning a zero on the year doesn't actually mean the start of a new decade, since there was no "year zero" at the start. Technically, the 201st decade won't be over until New Year's Day, 2021. Hmmph. But I realize I'm in a tiny minority, so for the purposes of this column I will bow to the prevailing notion that the 2020s began yesterday. And in American politics, a new decade means new dividing lines for the House of Representatives.

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My 2019 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 2]

[ Posted Friday, December 27th, 2019 – 19:41 UTC ]

Welcome back to the second and final installment of our year-end awards columns! If you missed last week's column, you should probably check that out, too.

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My 2019 "McLaughlin Awards" [Part 1]

[ Posted Friday, December 20th, 2019 – 19:05 UTC ]

Welcome back once again to our year-end "McLaughlin Awards," named for the awards categories we lifted from the McLaughlin Report years ago. We've added a category here and there over time, but it's still the same basic list.

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The Federalist Papers (Number 66)

[ Posted Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 – 17:44 UTC ]

Welcome to the second part of our look at how impeachment was seen by Alexander Hamilton, when he was arguing in the anonymous Federalist Papers for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Today, we have Federalist Paper Number 66, or "Objections to the Power of the Senate To Set as a Court for Impeachments Further Considered." It was published in the New York Packet newspaper in March of 1788.

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The Federalist Papers (Number 65)

[ Posted Tuesday, December 17th, 2019 – 17:32 UTC ]

I'll be spending today and tomorrow in preparation for our year-end awards columns, so I thought I'd run a special historical look back for my readers by reprinting the two Federalist Papers written by Alexander Hamilton on the subject of impeachment. Obviously, this is relevant to current events in Washington.

Both of these (today's and tomorrow's) were published in the New York Packet newspaper in March of 1788. As with all the Federalist Papers, they were published anonymously under the signature "PUBLIUS." The Federalist Papers were a series of arguments in favor of adopting the newly-written Constitution, and were countered by the lesser-known Anti-Federalist Papers, a series of arguments against adopting the new form of government being considered.

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Friday Talking Points -- Snowflake-In-Chief Not Person Of The Year, Sorry

[ Posted Friday, December 13th, 2019 – 18:17 UTC ]

And so we come to the close of the most momentous week in Washington of the year. In one week's time, we've seen articles of impeachment move to the floor of the House of Representatives, an agreement between House Democrats and the White House to move forward on the U.S./Mexico/Canada Agreement, a truce declared in the budget battles (that had threatened to shut down the government once again), Democrats agreeing to the creation of the "Space Force" in exchange for paid family leave for federal workers, a tentative trade cease-fire declared with China, the Senate unanimously backing up the overwhelming vote in the House to declare the Armenian genocide for what it was, the release of an inspector general's report that totally debunked most of the conspiracy theories about the initiation of the counterintelligence operation at the edges of the 2016 Trump campaign, President Trump being forced to pay a $2 million fine for misuse of his own charitable foundation, and the House passing a landmark bill to fight the greed of drug companies by finally using the federal government's buying power to force lower prices on prescription medication. Again: all of these rather large things happened in a single week.

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