Tuesday, October 19, 2010

O'Donnell's Latest

As much as I'm in favor of the general sentiment behind the Tea Party movement, there's a real danger that it acts in completely knee jerk ways, i.e. giving way to sentiment, anti-incumbency and anti-"elitism". Such actions have no positive component, they're not motivated by a positive view of the good, and as a result they can end up in the endorsement of people like Christine O'Donnell.

Here's one telling story about her. Not only is she vehemently against the separation of Church and State, she's completely (and I mean completely) ignorant of its history and meaning.
Local schools do not have the right to teach what they feel?" O'Donnell said. "Talk about imposing your beliefs on the local schools."

When O'Donnell cited "indispensable principles" of the Founding Fathers in her criticism of an overreaching federal government, Coons interrupted her to say, "One of those indispensable principles is the separation of church and state."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked, a statement that drew laughter from the audience. When Coons returned to the topic a few minutes later, he said her comment "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is."

"The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish religion," Coons said.

"The First Amendment does?" O'Donnell interrupted. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

When Coons summarized the amendment as saying government shall make no law establishing religion, O'Donnell interrupted again: "That's in the First Amendment?"

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution.
(As an aside, the lack of positives is one reason that I'm also so against the libertarians, a point I alluded to in my most recent editorial.)


Blogger Realist Theorist said...

I've read Christian commentators say this too, and they definitely know the words of the Constitution.

They say that the government may not "establish" a religion, but that it does not have to be "separate" from a religion.

So, it is not so much ignorance as their own non-standard interpretation, that they're trying to push.

2:55 PM  

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