Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama says Constitution “reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day”


“I think we can say that the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day, and that the Framers had that same blind spot. I don’t think the two views are contradictory, to say that it was a remarkable political document that paved the way for where we are now, and to say that it also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.”

What is "the fundamental flaw" that continues to this day??? I'd like to hear an explanation.
Like most elites, Obama has it backwards -- this country has been a beacon of hope and liberty for generations but all he sees are fundamental flaws.
At one rally this year, Obama told the crowd he is embarrassed that Americans don't speak French; when he went to Germany he told the crowd about "unenlightened Americans" who don't appreciate Europe.
You know, I'd like a President who is proud of his country. I really don't want a Harvard-educated empty suit who goes around apologizing for America's supposed flaws.


Anonymous said...

Mais c'est tres important a parler une langue entrangere. Le francais est bon, mais aussi l'espagnol, l'allemand, le chinois. Vraiment, il n'importe pas lequel. Le objectif est le comprehension d'un autre culture, un autre peuple. Il ne faut pas etre xenophobe. N'est-ce pas, mon ami paysan?

Anonymous said...

but apparently you'll take the first Yale moron that comes along.

Anonymous said...

Quel con, non?

Anonymous said...

Apparently you are not an African American or came from that background when my ancestors were treated as 3/5 humans, which was part of our constitution. Yes this country is great because people fought for changes, you apparently do not see that. Take your blind fold off and look.

Anonymous said...

I decided to practice Obamanomics last night for Halloween. Children coming to the door to receive candy, were told that their candy had been redistributed to others. They found this neither humorous, nor appealing. Some took it quite hard. One little fellow uttered a few choice words that he probably learned from his Liberal parents.

I don't know about you, but I think the children were on to something.

Anonymous said...

Go Obama the next President of the United States.

Anonymous said...

I like think that adult American citizens are a little smarter and more generous than sugar-crazed children. But, in this case, perhaps not.

John Sawyer said...

It would be nice if people misquoting Obama on this, took the time to quote more of what Obama actually said, which shows that he was talking about the sections of the Constitution referring to slavery, which some people mistakenly interpret as enshrining slavery into the Constitution (more about that below). But then, all that the misquoters really want to do, is to take this one quote out of context, to make it look like Obama was saying "the entire Constitution reflected a flaw in this country that continues to this day". Deliberately taking quotes out of context is pathetic for any side to do. So, in other words, misquoters need to look for some other issue regarding Obama they don't like (but chances are it will be as easy to dismiss as this one).

And since I'm objective, I'll explain why Obama was mistaken about the Constitutional/slavery concerns he was speaking about: Obama's heart was in the right place, but it's possible he didn't completely understand the reasons the founding fathers wrote those provisions into the Constitution. These sections weren't meant to enshrine slavery into the Constitution--instead, they were compromises that, without which, the slave states wouldn't have signed the Constitution, which might have resulted in there being a Confederacy and a Union from America's very start--two Americas, one of which would have allowed the continuation of slavery, as well as weakening both by dividing the whole into two, which was one of the primary things the founding fathers were trying to avoid. The "3/5 Compromise" wasn't intended as a slur to the slaves--it allowed the free states to maintain power, by not allowing the slave states to use their large slave population to give the slave states undue representation in Congress, especially since those slaves weren't able to vote.

There were many founding fathers, mostly in the free states, but some in the slave states (like Jefferson) who did not like slavery, and wanted to see it abolished as soon as possible, even the ones who owned slaves (which, some people say, they "had" to do because the economy in their states at the time "required" it--I don't know about that). The anti-slavery founding fathers were buying time, and planned to abolish slavery as soon as practical. That plan didn't work out, and so we had the Civil War. Some people say their failure to make good on their pledge, leading to the Civil War, is proof that they shouldn't have compromised in the Constitution, but again, without the compromises, that might have guaranteed a separate Confederate States of America from the start, against which any later wars to end slavery, initiated by the Union, would have been the unlikely situation of one sovereign but related nation fighting against another--even with the north's abhorrence of slavery, fighting their close southern relation, even to end that nation's practice of slavery, probably wouldn't have happened.

I think Obama can be partly forgiven for his misunderstanding, but not entirely, given his law background, which should have led him to examine more closely why these sections were included, instead of believing in mistaken "common knowledge" of their meaning. It seems that, even by 2001, for some reason, Obama may not have read much, if any, of the writings of the anti-slavery founding fathers, in which they stated why they had to include what they hoped were temporary compromises; and if Obama had read these writings, he may have simply felt these were still flaws instead of compromises--he may have believed that the founding fathers could have worked harder to not include such compromises, and still get the slave states to sign. About that, Obama is almost certainly wrong. To give Obama some credit, he's right when he says these compromises/"flaws" had a long-lasting effect that "carries on until this day", but he's wrong when he says "the Framers had [a] blind spot", since his statement covers all the Framers--Obama doesn't differentiate between the Framers who wanted to abolish slavery, who didn't have a blind spot, and those who wanted slavery to continue, who did have a blind spot.

So the Constitution contained compromises that the anti-slavery founders intended to be temporary, and when later representatives failed to follow through on this, the free states cited the part of the Declaration of Independence that prohibited slavery in the US: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", as denying the slave states the right to secede from the Union. (There were also economic conflicts between the North and South, such as the South not liking to pay heavy tariffs to the North, that helped bring about the Civil War, but abolishing slavery was still one of the North's primary goals, and not just to impoverish the South). Though the Declaration of Independence is not technically part of the Constitution, the Constitution was the document meant to legislate the sentiments in the Declaration, and so the Constitution was the part of that combination of documents in which amendments were attached, and so in that sense, the proper observance of the Declaration/Constitution combination eventually led to abolishing slavery throughout the entire US.

Here's a shorter take on this idea, from

…where poster Larry says:
"The 3/5 Compromise was not a flaw. It was a necessary piece of legislation. When the founding fathers were divvying up Congressional representation, the Southern States wanted all their slaves to count as part of the population, but the Northern States didn’t want to count them because it would have given the slaveholders a majority in Congress. So they came up with a compromise which would allow the South to count 3/5 of their total slaves as part of their overall population. It was a compromise that kept the union together and probably brought a quicker end to slavery. If 100% of the slaves were counted like the South wanted, the South would have ruled Congress and the slave trade would have roared on unabated. But the North retained power and slavery was slowly being phased out. If the Constitution had abolished slavery entirely, the South never would have signed onto it and the slave trade would have gone on unabated for generations in all but a few Northern free states. Furthermore, Obama is wrong when he says the compromise is a flaw that exists to this day, because the abolition of slavery rendered it moot."

For reference, here are the sections of the Constitution that Obama was referring to:

Article I, Section 2:
"Representative and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons."

Article I, Section 9 (prohibited Congress from banning the slave trade before 1808--proof that the founders intended to try to prohibit slavery before long, but later representatives never got around to it):
The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

Article IV, section 3 (required the return of fugitive slaves who might escape into non-slave states):
No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

Anonymous said...

Obama was not misquoted. He regards the Constitution of the USA as fundamentally flawed. Nothing you've written changes that.

The flaw is that it will not prevent Obama from destroying the economy of the USA, as he proclaimed yesterday in San Francisco.

John Sawyer said...

Selectively omitting parts of what someone says, in order to obscure or change what they were trying to say, is indeed misquoting someone.

Obama (wrongly) considers PARTS of the Constitution as fundamentally flawed--the parts referring to slavery--not the entire Constitution, which he otherwise admires. I made that point pretty clearly, but even so, you made exactly the kind of deliberate misinterpretation I described--looking selectively at parts of both his statement and my post, and concluding both he and I said something we didn't.

As to Obama "proclaiming" he's planning on destroying the economy of the USA, he didn't say that either (it was also something he said to the SF Chronicle in January 2008, not something he said in SF yesterday, since he wasn't in California yesterday). He said:

"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted."

Suddenly bankrupting all coal powerplants, without suddenly replacing them with other sources of power (which is not a realistic timeframe, to put it mildly) probably would destroy the economy of the US, since about half of the US's power is derived from coal powerplants, which is why it won't happen--no president has a fiat that allows them to do that--and which is why that's not "what he proclaimed" he intended the effect of his supposed plans would be, since obviously he wouldn't relish destroying the US economy. It's clear he didn't realize the implications of what he was saying, as long as we assume he was talking about ALL coal powerplants--but why assume that? The exact details about what somebody says matter. His statement refers only to NEW coal powerplants, not existing ones, so maybe that's what he meant--hopefully he'll elaborate. Whatever he's got in mind, it will be adjusted by reality. Obama's statement was either more-than-irresponsible, or another poorly-worded statement of what he was trying to say. See more of my thoughts on this at the link you provided:

Also, since this was something he said to the SF Chronicle in January 2008, hopefully people have talked to him about this odd statement in the meantime, which might explain why statements he's made since then, don't sound like what he's saying now.