Timothy Egan Calls Tea Party a 'Constitutional Wrecking Crew'

Sunday night's posting by Timothy Egan, liberal Times reporter turned ultra-liberal nytimes.com blogger,"Backward, Into the Future," used a push by some Tea Party members to repeal the 17th Amendment to take broader aim at that "constitutional wrecking crew."

The 17th Amendment (1913) provided for direct election of senators by the people rather than by state legislatures. Columnist Tony Blankley argued in support of repeal in January:

If senators were again selected by state legislatures, the longevity of Senate careers would be tethered to their vigilant defense of their state's interest - rather than to the interest of Washington forces of influence. The Senate then would take on its original function - the place where the states are represented in the federal government.

By contrast, Egan's less-than-sympathetic take portrayed the idea as a gateway to further corruption. He went on to bash the Tea Party, the Republican Party, and finally the majority of Americans for all sorts of evil beliefs, such as support for Arizona's enforcement of immigration law.

Gutting the 17th Amendment is not the only object of this constitutional wrecking crew.

Rand Paul, the Republican Senate nominee from Kentucky, recently attacked the 14th Amendment. That's the one that called for full citizenship rights to ex-slaves, and contains a pair of very muscular clauses on equal protection and due process.

Paul and some of the anti-immigration activists behind the show-me-your-papers law in Arizona don't have much use for the first sentence of the 14th Amendment. This one: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

This time, they want to exclude an ethnic minority, rather than include one. Their target is Latinos, particularly babies born to illegal immigrants who become citizens by their birth.

Egan also spouted this snotty, misleading lament:

Some polls have found majority backing for Paul's position. And Paul himself is likely to win a Senate seat, probably because of his defiance of a century of progress. The Constitution is supposed to be second only to the Bible as the sacred text of Tea Party Republicans, but some of them must think it was written in pencil.

That "Bible" crack is a pretty lazy joke. Many social conservatives have been disappointed in the Tea Party movement's focus on libertarian tax-and-spend-issues at the expense of cultural ones. Too subtle for Egan, apparently.

Egan next conflated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution with the new immigration law in Arizona (which after all, is closely modeled after federal law that is not being enforced):

Poll-testing the Bill of Rights in a troubled time is always a risky proposition. In 2010, the Fourth Amendment - protection against unreasonable search and seizure - probably would not fare very well. After all, a majority of Americans back the Arizona law, which allows police to demand citizen papers from people they stop who present a "reasonable suspicion" of being illegal immigrants. That same majority also says they believe the law makes it more likely that legal immigrants will be singled out, but that's the price, apparently.

Egan concluded with liberal hysteria....over a fictional television drama, calling the Fox show "24" a "veritable torture-porn-fest of war crimes."

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