Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christine O'Donnell's Constitution Problem

Immediately after this story broke, right-wing world went into overdrive, defending an embarrassing gaffe by Christine O'Donnell. The Delaware Senate hopeful (R-Of Course), claimed during a debate with Chris Coons that the separation of church and state is not in the Constitution, or at least expressed a disbelief that it was.  She really thought she nailed Coons too, taking the audiences gasps of laughter as encouragement (they were laughing at you, Christine!).  Now, why anyone would feel the need to defend this wacky candidate who is way behind in the polls, when they could just cut their losses is anyone's guess.

The defense is an old canard from far-right wing world. Since the actual phrase "separation of church and state" is not verbatim in the document itself, it is argued that it isn't there at all.  Forget that Thomas Jefferson actually coined the phrase in like 1803, and that it has been held to mean just that by the Supreme Court repeatedly.  These folks want to ignore any changes or interpretations made over the last 200-odd years, and boil it back down to its original intent.  Which is uncomfortable, given some of the stuff that was originally in there.  But back to Christine.  It's become eminently clear that there is no gaffe, no misstatement, no anything that can derail a current right-wing candidate in the eyes of the faithful.

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