A stupid thing to say, or the stupidest thing anybody’s ever said in the long and colorful history of human language?


From the Wall Street Journal:

If Mr. Obama wins we could possibly see any or all of the following: a federal constitutional right to welfare; a federal constitutional mandate of affirmative action wherever there are racial disparities, without regard to proof of discriminatory intent; a right for government-financed abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy; the abolition of capital punishment and the mass freeing of criminal defendants; ruinous shareholder suits against corporate officers and directors; and approval of huge punitive damage awards, like those imposed against tobacco companies, against many legitimate businesses such as those selling fattening food.

Let’s set aside the fact that Sen. Obama has never advanced public policies to do any of this.  Let’s set aside the lack of evidence that he’s even remotely as politically suicidal as one would have to be to do any of this.  Let’s set aside the mountain of evidence that he’s politically astute enough to know how politically suicidal any of this would be.

Instead, let’s just focus on a couple of glaring issues with this fever-dream of a comment.  First, does this guy have any idea how hard it is to amend the constitution?  Even once?  Let alone 4 times?  In one presidency?  Does he have any awareness that the success of any or all of these amendments — if offered, which they won’t be, for the reasons stated above — would be a direct reflection of the will of a supermajority of the American people?  Is he aware that his prediction, therefore, is the direct equivalent of stating that he believes only a small minority (inframinority?) of Americans share his political views and philosophy, and that he is therefore, by his own admission, at the far right fringe of American society, and probably, therefore, someone whose opinions the WSJ shouldn’t bother to print?

Second, does this guy have any knowledge of how the American judicial system works?  Is he aware that presidents do not determine the size of awards from lawsuits?  That they don’t even have any influence on it?  That the courts are, like, this whole other branch of government?  That the handing out of awards and the size of those awards is determined by juries?  You know, the Hockey Moms and Joe Sixpacks and Joe the Plumbers that his party supposedly loves so much?

In short, is there anything about American politics and the constitution that this guy does know?

Or is his knowledge limited to the fact that he wants to scare everybody sh**less because it’s politically useful to him and his party?

h/t Sullivan

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11 Responses to “A stupid thing to say, or the stupidest thing anybody’s ever said in the long and colorful history of human language?”

  1. Whitney Says:

    Yeah. I’m totally with you here. I don’t think it’s useful at all to the party. I think the guy sounds like a total idiot. See why I can’t wait for next week?

  2. urbino Says:

    Me, too, actually. I don’t like politics. I like policy. Politics interests me only because it sets the boundaries around what policy can be (and as a sociological phenomenon).

    As for the dumbness of the quote, it’s one of those cyclical, I think. Anytime either of the parties finds a theme that works, they ride it and ride it, and push it and push it until eventually they become a self-parody. The GOP appears to have hit that tipping point in this election.

  3. DeJon05 Says:

    Tipping point? Don’t tell that to James Dobson.

  4. urbino Says:

    Well, the person doing the tipping never knows they’re doing it. I’m sure Steven Calabresi doesn’t think his rhetoric is silly, either.

    Still, thanks for resetting my stupidometer. After reading Dobson, it’s hard to argue Calabresi’s quote is Absolute Stupid.

  5. Sandi Says:

    As a lawyer, this kind of thing bothers me because I know exactly why this quote proves that he is an idiot. Except, since he’s a law professor at Northwestern, he’s clearly not an idiot. He knows exactly how the American political and legal systems work. Which makes this kind of premeditated lying (excuse me, damned lying) and shameless fearmongering even more disturbing. Then again, what else can you expect from a co-founder of the Federalist Society (shudder)? Those people are scary right-wing ideologues. They are the ones who actually have the radical agenda — so I guess this is projection?

  6. Joe Says:

    Nope… found something more stupid here.

  7. urbino Says:

    Well, as Sandi informs us, Calabresi’s statement isn’t actually stupid: it’s quite intentional lying.

    In the Stupid Sweepstakes, I enter the following:

    Palin on the First Amendment


    Boehner on the DoJ.

  8. Joe Says:

    Was it political suicide for FDR to propose some of these things? He did it and was elected four times. A second Bill of Rights isn’t a new liberal concept.

    I for one am not going to vote for Obama and then just sit back and hope that he isn’t allowed to go quite as far as he has indicated that he wants to go. He’s already declared health care a “right”. How far until a minimum level of income is declared a “right”? Or that there is a “right” to a college education? Just because it is procedurally and politically difficult to get these things added as amendments doesn’t mean The One won’t try it. And it definitely doesn’t mean that he won’t propose programs and legislation that has the effect of making these things “rights.”

    As evidenced by your response and Sandi’s, it seems that the party of Clinton has significantly loosened up its definition of “lying.”

  9. urbino Says:

    When did FDR propose any of the things Calabresi lists?

    It isn’t “procedurally and politically difficult to get these things added as amendments,” it’s effectively impossible. And if it turns out not to be impossible, it’s because, as I said, a supermajority of the American people turn out to support it. If that’s the case, your problem isn’t a President Obama; your problem is that a supermajority of the American people fundamentally disagree with you.

    I have no idea what your final comment means.

  10. Sandi Says:

    The problem with Calabresi’s argument, even if we were to take it at face value, is that there isn’t any evidence that Senator Obama is interested in pursuing any of the items on Calabresi’s list; in many cases, there is abundant evidence that his stands are far from what Calabresi posits.

    What there is, is Republican/conservative paranoia, and judging from the comments I’ve been hearing from some of the rubes at McCain rallies, Rush Limbaugh, and the rest of the small, hateful right-wing crowd, is rampant. The staff attorney I’m working with actually brought in (I wish I was kidding) a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book on Friday, telling us he was “rereading it to prepare for the future.” Of course I can’t say anything because of his position, but I was sitting there thinking, is there any way that he actually believes that a Democratic presidential administration — even with a heavily Democratic congress — bears any resemblance whatsoever to totalitarian communism? Because that’s not just absurd, it’s delusional.

  11. Sandi Says:

    That was supposed to be “it is rampant,” not “is rampant.” And when I say small, I don’t mean in numbers, I mean in character. In case it wasn’t clear.

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