The Constitution Fetish
Progressives are hot for Wickard v. Filburn, not the Constitution.


Andrew C. McCarthy

Is there anything richer than a gaggle of smarmy progressives snickering at the conservative “Constitution fetish”? “Fetish” is the fashionable Left’s latest suggestive imagery turned talking point, a dig at the new Republican majority in the House, which began its session this week by reading the Constitution aloud. It’s as if Dracula were complaining about a crucifix fetish.

“Fetish,” like “tea-bagger,” slides easily off the tongues of the Big Thinkers who get their dithering law from Dalia Lithwick and their sophomoric style from Bill Maher. If there is no Obama to send a thrill up their legs, it takes an organic Constitution throbbing with active liberty to ring their chimes. The lifeless one read from the podium Thursday — which must have been, like, a hundred years old or something — leaves them limp.

If you really want to see what irrational arousal is like, though, get thee to the nearest faculty lounge or MSNBC set and hum a few bars of the Warren Court’s greatest hits. Like a hand reaching through the epistemological fog, you’d think Harry Blackmun’s impenetrable prose had been touched by Aphrodite herself. Sure, your average fetish-fixated tea-bagger may be satisfied by such humdrum fare as laying taxes, disciplining the Militia, and punishments cruel and unusual. But it took Blackmun’s exotic penumbras, the “Hippocratic Oath’s apparent rigidity,” and a touch of in utero “quickening” before the siren trio of Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter were up to seducing New York Times editors and one-note feminists with their hypnotic “Sweet Mystery of Life.”

Explaining (sort of) why Blackmun’s iconic Roe v. Wade decision simply had to be preserved despite its void of support in law and logic, they wrote: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” You’re telling me you think James Madison could compete with that?

“Existence” and “the universe” — we have czars for those now, right? There are no czars in that stale old Constitution Republicans were reading. There’s also no health care, no TARP, no General Motors, no AIG; no Departments of Justice, Labor, Health, Human Services, Energy, Education, Agriculture, Urban Development, or Transportation; no FCC, FTC, SEC, ICC, FDIC, FAA, FHA, or FEMA; no Council of Economic Advisers, Economic Adjustment Office, Economic Development Administration, Economic Research Service, or Economics and Statistics Administration; no Community Oriented Policing Services; no Bureaus of Public Debt, Reclamation, Transportation Statistics, International Labor, or Immigration Services; no Administrations for Children and Families, Native Americans, International Development, Battle Monuments, Toxic Substances and Disease — not even an Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Coordinating Committee or a Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (I kid you not).