SETH LIPSKY: Let’s Have a TELEVISED DEBATE on the CONSTITUTION – WSJ.com
What guidance do the GOP candidates draw from the document they revere?
September 19, 2011
By SETH LIPSKY
Watching the early clashes among the Republican presidential field leaves me hungering for a televised debate on the Constitution. America’s fundamental law, raised as a flag in this campaign by the tea party, has been eddying in and out of the debates. So why limit it to glancing references?
Why not make at least one of these televised debates about the Constitution itself. Let the candidates really get it on over how they understand the document that whoever wins the presidency will swear to preserve, protect and defend. How would the Constitution guide them should they become president of America?
Take the question of treason. This word is being thrown around in the debates like confetti. Gov. Rick Perry has suggested that using the Federal Reserve for political purposes would be “almost treasonous,” and Gov. Jon Huntsman has asserted that Mr. Perry’s suggestion that we can’t control the southern border was a “treasonous comment.”
How do these candidates comprehend the prohibition in the Constitution on defining treason as anything other than levying war against the United States or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort? Do they really believe that treason is a context in which they want to talk about immigration and money?
And what counsel from the Constitution would the candidates draw on immigration? What kind of responsibility do they feel is imposed on the federal government by the fact that the Constitution parcels the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization not to the states but to the federal government? Does the word “uniform” lock the states out of making policy on immigration?
How about talking of the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke not in terms of treason but in terms of the Constitution? One of the candidates, Ron Paul, reckons the Federal Reserve Act is unconstitutional on its face. Do the other candidates agree? Where do they feel Congress gets the power to delegate monetary authority to the Fed?