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The Hilarity of Hashtags and the “Whole Constitution”

Over the past week some activity by the left—including President Obama’s campaign team—has given even this lofty lawyer the chance to chuckle and get in on some well-deserved ribbing of the latest attempts by progressives to either shut us liberty types up or, if that doesn’t work, smite us with platitudes.

The shut-up effort is—or was—Attack Watch.  Promising to “Get the Facts” and “Fight the Smears,” the website allows supporters of Obama for America to report attacks on, well, what can I call him but Dear Leader at this juncture? Twitter users have certainly taken to attaching #attackwatch to their tweets, but they’re reporting everything from attacks on job creation, support for crony capitalism, largely all the attacks the Obama Administration is making rather than enduring.  In short: “The site has backfired in a spectacular fashion, causing Obama to seem like a paranoid, Nixon-like figure on steroids.”

Considering internet longevity, the backlash is perhaps cliché at this point, but I just re-tweeted this good line: “@AttackWatch death watch: tweets-per-day: 3-3-3-0-0-0-0-0.”   Does this mean Attack Watch fought the “smears” and won in one fell swoop?  Here’s hoping they try that line.

Meanwhile, on the platitudes front, a litany of left-leaning organizations have joined together to form Constitutional Progressives. Their idea is to get national legislators to commit to supporting the whole United States Constitution.  Have they seen the light?  No such luck:

Some have advocated repeal of Amendments, including the 14th Amendment, the 16th Amendment, and the 17th Amendment, that make our Constitution better and this country great. Some have even failed to heed the lessons of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement and have advocated a return to ideas of secession and nullification.

I believe that our Constitution has been improved by the Amendments adopted over the last 220 years.

I pledge to support the whole Constitution.

I haven’t said much about the so-called repeal movements.  Although there are many great discussions on these topics—especially the 17th Amendment (the direct election of U.S. Senators)—I believe there are currently bigger fish to fry. I have, however, expressed support for the Repeal Amendment, and discussed it at length on this blog. I don’t mean to read too deeply into this pledge, but suspect that’s what the Constitutional Progressives are targeting when they speak of “a return to ideas of secession and nullification.”  I guess those words are better boogeymen than “federalism.”

A better part of the Volokh Conspiracy (Ilya Somin, Jonathan Adler and Eugene Volokh) have their own criticism of the pledge, but I think the contradiction is all that’s needed to dispel the pledge: if the “whole Constitution” is sacrosanct, what about Article V, which allows for amendments? If the Constitutional Progressives believe amendments cannot be touched, what do we make of the 21st Amendment, which overturned the 18th Amendment, which banned “intoxicating liquors” in the U.S. for almost 15 years?  Article V acknowledges that the Constitution is not perfect, and although I agree it’s largely been used to better the United States, that does not mean that each provision of the Constitution is not up for discussion.

Progressives can try to lay claim to defending “the whole Constitution,” which is certainly easier than engaging in meaningful discussion about certain amendments, but coming out with such a silly platitude is disingenuous at best.  I daresay this kind of patronizing attitude could be interpreted as a smear. Hmm… this may call for a tweet:

“Constitutional Progressives think we haven’t read the whole Constitution. #attackwatch.”

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