3/15/08

On The Character Of Characters

What Casey hits on in the post below, regarding "character" and Rush's blatant misunderstanding of same, highlights the problems of people who are not terribly literate or educated (regardless of their claims) attempting to interpret 200 year old language.

I discovered this in elementary school, looking at older documents that were full of "ye" and stange looking "f" letters. Turned out that the "y" in "ye" is actually shorthand for "th," while the funny "f" is actually the equivalent of the German S-zet - a double "s."

What Adams or Madison or Hamilton (whenever Rush finally gets it right) describes in the Federalist #69 is not the "character" of the executive, but rather what today we would call "characteristics of the office of president." There is, by the way, excellent reading in there for those few still interested in comparing the current administration's actions with what Hamilton - a serious strong government type - thought the executive was allowed.

A similar problem occurs when people try to interpret the Second Amendment (A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.") and the superfluous militia clause. A "well regulated" militia does not mean one with many rules. The word "regulated" at that time meant organized and precise. The common metaphor used in regard to the Second Amendment, "A well educated Population, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed." makes the point perfectly.

Finally, in regard to Casey's question about the applicability of the Federalist Papers to the Constitution, they constitute what would be known in legal circles as "legislative history." It would enable honest litigants to reach an understanding of what the original intent of the Founders was in establishing this Repbublic.