I just got an e-mail from Steve Scalise with the subject line “Carrying out the will of the American people.” In this message he says:
On Thursday, we started what should become a new tradition by reading the Constitution aloud on the Floor of the House of Representatives. This marks the first time in the history of the United States that the complete Constitution has been read on the House Floor. I was honored to participate and hope this will be the first step towards getting our country refocused on the principles spelled out in this historic document.
Yet, as I learned via Cousin Pat yesterday, they didn’t read the “complete Constitution.” They left out some parts, basically the parts that are no longer functional. This includes such trivial matters as the original date for the first annual meeting of Congress, as well as some not-so-trivial stuff like the Three-Fifths Compromise.
One can argue about whether that amounts to revisionism. (I’m inclined to think our historic custom of slavery is not something to gloss over, ever.) That’s not my point. What seems inarguable, however, is that the “complete Constitution” was not read on Thursday. Am I wrong to think this matters? Am I quibbling over a trivial detail?
I’m a little gunshy these days over criticizing local politicos. Mr. Scalise, please don’t take my comment the wrong way. I just couldn’t resist pointing out this factual error. I think I understand why you did it. After all, what you sent reads much better than the alternative.
This marks the first time in the history of the United States that this much of the Constitution has been read on the House Floor, but we still didn’t read the whole thing.
The truth is so much less glamorous.
Footnotes: They also skipped a part of the Constitution because — no lie — two pages stuck together, but they came back later in the day and fixed that omission. When they got to the requirement that the President must be a natural born citizen, a woman named Teresa Cao was hauled off and arrested for shouting “Except Obama! Help us Jesus!” And to top it all off, I’m also seeing reports that a couple new Representatives violated the Constitution by voting without being sworn in. Just another trivial detail, I guess.