Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Most Expedient Idea

Via Digby via Senatus, a blog offering "daily coverage of the United States Senate," via Seesmic, comes this tweet (or perhaps twit):"

Hatch offering amd to make "false statements regarding participation in U.S. combat operations a misdemeanor."

Assuming this is accurate, Hatch presumably is responding to a report that Democratic Senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has twice made false statements about his military record. There is little chance he is thinking of George W. Bush, Lindsey Graham, or the late Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Similarly, Hatch, a four-term, very conservative Senator from Utah who periodically works on exacting from Democrats concessions on legislation, no doubt is thinking of Bob Bennett, a three-term, very conservative Senator from Utah who periodically works on exacting from Democrats concessions on legislation and was recently denied renomination by the far right in his state.

Still, it is remarkable. Orrin Hatch was considered by GOP Presidents as Supreme Court Justice timber, though at 76 years of age, his time has passed. As far as is known, he never made a short list, but as a long-time member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and widely acceptable among his colleagues, was thought of as a reasonably sharp legal mind who would easily win confirmation.

The latter part is true, but the former? Probably, though it seems otherwise. Senator Hatch is recommending that making a false statement about oneself be made a criminal offense, if it pertains to service in combat. That would run up against the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, obviously, which probably occurred to Senator Hatch. Such are the ways of GOP politics these days, however, and the importance of the guarantee of free speech is eclipsed by the importance of political survival.

Candidates lie! It appears that would be a startling revelation to the Utah Senator. And Senator Hatch might want to consider a related issue in his proposal. We have elections in this country- elections in which voters sort out issues and claims and make an informed judgment. Sometimes the judgment is not informed, but that's almost incidental; elections are a constitutionally provided and reasonably fair way to determine the will of the people. Senator Hatch ought to have some faith in the electorate or more broadly, the American people, to make a determination about such matters.



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