3/15/08

Character of the President

A couple of days ago in a conversation about Eliot Spitzer and morality in politics, Rush Limbaugh said the following:

Our last caller wanted to know -- he's a Republican, but he doesn't like this morality in politics, it's not in the Constitution. Actually, it is in the Federalist Papers in the section in which the criteria for the president was being written and debated about, the number one aspect in the Federalist Papers, I think it was John Adams in this case -- I think it was John Adams writing number-one, most important thing in the executive was character.

Federalist #69, written by Alexander Hamilton, outlined the duties and responsibilities of the president.

Limbaugh then had a change of heart about the author:

It was James Madison. Actually, he wrote one-third of the Federalist Papers, the forerunner of the Constitution. He also was the principal author of the Constitution. It was James Madison in the Federalist Papers who laid out the requirements for the executive, number one being character.

Madison may have written about the character of the president. But a moment later, Limbaugh changed his mind again:

All right, I just sent this up to Koko. We're going to link to it at RushLimbaugh.com. Eighty-five Federalist Papers, number 69, written by Alexander Hamilton, The Character of the Executive. I want you to read it when we update the website this afternoon, this evening, to reflect the contents of today's program, because it was said earlier here today that, "I don't see the word 'morality' in my Constitution." The Federalist Papers informed the Constitution, same Founding Fathers that wrote the Constitution participated with the Federalist Papers. They were forerunners of the Constitution, and so it's not accurate to say that morality is not part of the Constitution.

On the third try, Limbaugh correctly identifies the author of Federalist Paper no. 69: Alexander Hamilton.

But I notice that Limbaugh did not quote from the document about the president's morality or character. I read through it but I didn't see anything about the president's character, either.

The Federalist Papers definitely formed much of the foundation of the Constitution. But is it correct to say that something written in the Federalist Papers is part of the Constitution?

CJL