My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


More From the MoveOn.org Delusion-Fest

Radioblogger didn't post the transcript of Ted Kennedy's remarks yesterday. And I didn't hear them until I caught a "tape-delay" of the Hugh Hewitt Show. But they are well worth hearing and dissecting, so I will do a partial transcription now. . . for your amusement.

The United States of America is universally respected around the world for its democracy. And one of the principal reasons that we are respected is because of the checks and balances. The President of the United States has the veto, and we have unlimited debate and discussion. And that is very basic and fundamental.

Now, granted, I was educated in the public schools, but I seem to recall that the system of checks and balances between the Legislature and the Executive was based on the veto and the override by 2/3, and on the power of impeachment, and on the exclusive right for the Executive to nominate and the Senate to "advise and consent." In fact, it is even in the exact article of the Constitution that the founding fathers designed a supermajority, for the purpose of approving treaties, but made no mention of it with respect to the Judiciary. Unlimited debate and discussion was a Senate rule put in during the first few sessions of Congress. The filibuster is not mentioned in the Constitution, and I'm pretty sure the founding fathers would not have thought too highly of "interminable debate."

I would say to my Republican friends that are thinking about closing off the Senate of the United States from considering these justices "Read the debates in the Constitutional Convention." On three different occassions the founding fathers addressed the appointment power to the federal judiciary, and on two of those three they gave the complete power, complete power, to the United States Senate. And the last great decision of the Constitutional Convention, eight days before it adjourned, said it will be a divided power--an equal power between the Executive, between, uh, between the Senate of the United States. And that is the reason that Bob Byrd, Barbara McCulskey, and Chuck Schumer do not believe that we ought to be rubber stamps for this President of the United States.

Now, it just so happens that I just finished reading James Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787(I know--seemed like a good idea at the time). The Convention adjourned on Monday, September 17, 1787; that would make eight days before that Sunday, September 9. THE CONVENTION DID NOT MEET ON SUNDAYS. So, let's give the drunka . . Senator the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant eight days of debate prior to adjournment, which would have been Friday, September 7. And, indeed, on this day the Convention did discuss the appointment power--for about 15 minutes. I will copy just a portion of this debate (it takes up less than a page in the book, but still . . .) for your perusal.

"He shall nominate &c Appoint Ambassadors &c."

MR WILSON objected to the mode of appointing, as blending a branch of the Legislature with the Executive. Good laws are of no effect without a good Executive; and there can be no good Executive without a responsible appointment of officers to execute. Responsibility is in a manner destroyed by such an agency of the Senate.(emphasis mine). . .

MR PINKNEY was against joining the Senate in these appointments, except in the instance of Ambassadors whom he thought ought not be appointed by the President. . .

On the question. . . Agreed to nem: con:

Now, whether or not the Convention debated such appointment powers twice before and granted it to the Senate is unclear from this excerpt (by the way, they didn't), but several things ARE clear from this excerpt. One: the Founders were actually suspicious of Senate involvement in these matters. Two: it was never intended to be an equal power. Three: given the lengthy debates elsewhere about the supermajority for Ambassadors and Treaties, the relatively quick debate on this issue without mention of a supermajority lays bare the lie that the Senate has a right to expect a supermajority.

And Four: Sen. Kennedy needs to get a better grip on history. If he really wants to put out there arguments that can be readily checked against an authoritative record, he should really do a better job of disguising his lies. That, or continue to look like a foolish, old anachronism rapidly losing his grip on the one thing he cares about: power.

And, by the way, several other great decisions came after this relatively easy one for the Convention. Among them, many contentious questions about duties on imports and exports, and the proper mode for ratification. Compared to the actual debates on these issues, the issue of appointments was barely a blip on the record.

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