Salon's Pareene Dismisses Constitution as 'Archaic and Boring'; Much of It 'No Longer Applies'

May 25th, 2011 4:28 PM

The U.S. Constitution "is archaic and boring and lots of it no longer applies anymore."

The grumbling of a snotty 9th grade student in civics class? Nope, it's the pronouncement of Salon political reporter Alex Pareene.

In his May 24 War Room blog post "Why Herman Cain and the GOP keep misquoting the Constitution," Pareene mocked presidential hopeful Herman Cain for confusing a passage from the Declaration of Independence as coming from the U.S. Constitution and all but suggested Republicans purposefully misattribute things to the Constitution on purpose:


Republican 2012 front-runner and former pizza mogul Herman Cain invoked America's founding document at length in his campaign speech this weekend. Unfortunately, he also misidentified it:


And I know that there are some people that are not going to do that, so for the benefit of those who are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."


That, of course, is not from the Constitution. It's from the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is the inspiring one with the stirring rhetoric. The Constitution is basically a very dry series of instructions for organizing a government. You can understand why speechwriters would gravitate toward the non-legally binding one. ("Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same," has never been a great applause line.) As Republicans learned when they read the thing out loud, the Constitution is archaic and boring and lots of it no longer applies anymore. The Declaration, though, can't be superseded or amended. It's an idealistic statement of principles, not the result of painful deliberation between competing interests. It's the nation America's founders aspired to be, not the messy one those guys actually created. The Declaration is "all men are created equal," the Constitution is the three-fifths compromise. And that's why Republicans sometimes like to "mistake" the Declaration for the other one, the one they recently all started carrying pocket copies of.

Of course, politicians make these kinds of flubs all the time, including Democratic ones. It's just that when President Obama omits references to the Creator when quoting the Declaration or when Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) cites the non-existent "good and welfare" clause of the Constitution as justification for ObamaCare's individual mandate the media don't seem to care about the gaffe that much.

Pareene, however, isn't alone in his disdain for the Constitution. Washington Post's Ezra Klein once dismissed the national charter as "confusing" and then-Newsweek writer Ben Adler argued in September it was "dangerous" for Congress to require itself to justify legislation by citing where in the Constitution it is empowered to legislate on a given matter.