Friday, January 7, 2011

Tough Start

It’s always good to start the day with a healthy dose of irony. Two Republican members of Congress skipped out on being sworn in.

Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.

The Republicans, incumbent Pete Sessions of Texas and freshman Mike Fitzpatrick, missed the swearing in because they were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors Center. The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised.

And, according to House ethics rules, they’re not supposed to have fundraisers in the Capitol.

That brought some proceedings, including a hearing to repeal the healthcare law attended by Mr. Sessions, to a screeching halt while they considered what to do. Both members were later sworn in on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile, the reading of the Constitution went on from the House floor. That had a couple of glitches, too, including a heckler in the gallery when they got to the part about a “natural-born citizen” being one of the qualifications to be president. Then there was the fact that the geniuses behind the reading of the Constitution decided to read only the parts of it that were still in effect, thereby eliminating the bits where African-Americans are described as 3/5ths of a person, or the 18th Amendment, which instituted Prohibition and was later repealed. As one Republican put it, “we will omit those portions that have been deleted by subsequent amendments that were adopted over time.” Except they haven’t been deleted; they’re still in the Constitution. They’re just no longer in effect. When you delete something, you remove it. But the text of the Constitution still contains the reference to 3/5ths, and the 18th Amendment is still there, too; there’s not a big blank space between the 17th and the 19th.

For a bunch of people who proclaim their undying love for the Constitution, they sure know how to mistreat it.