It’s bad enough that the State Board of Education claims David Barton is an “expert” who is qualified to help guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. But now we’re told Barton is a “constitutional expert,” too. Wow. Not bad considering that he earned only a bachelor’s degree in religious education, right?
This is all absurd, of course. Barton is simply a smooth-talking political propagandist who served nearly a decade as vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party. He also founded WallBuilders, a Texas-based far-right organization, as a vehicle for opposing separation of church and state.
But the far-right Web site OneNewsNow (“Your latest news from a Christian perspective”) asked Barton to comment for a story about a New Hampshire congresswoman who argues that the Constitution does not bar the federal government from tackling health care reform [link no longer active]. The congresswoman says that the Constitution’s failure to mention other specific federal responsibilities doesn’t necessarily make them unconstitutional either.
Identified by OneNewsNow as a “prominent historian and constitutional expert,” Barton responds:
“Healthcare is not a federal issue. It is a state and people issue — the same with transportation. The Constitution does say that the federal government can take care of what are called the post roads — those on which the mail travels — but outside of that, states are responsible for their own highways, their own roads, their own county, local, state roads. And her comment about, ‘Well, the Constitution doesn’t cover drug use and drug abuse’ — yes it does, and that is under the criminal justice issues that belong to the states.”
We note the lack of any court decisions striking down the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, which became law nearly a half-century ago. But we will leave arguments about the constitutionality of federal health care reform to real constitutional experts. Barton certainly isn’t one.
Still, Barton’s comments raise some interesting questions. For example, does he think Medicare should be abolished? And does he oppose federal anti-drug and drug safety laws? Really? Of course, we already knew Barton believes our nation’s laws should be based on Christian biblical principles. Can he point to any specific constitutional passages to back that up? (You might recall his arguments that the Bible forbids labor laws as well as progressive income taxes and other taxes on capital gains and inheritance. Apparently, God is a conservative.)
More to the point: why does the right continue to defy credibility by proclaiming that someone so absurdly unqualified is an expert at anything other than pushing political agendas? And why in the world should that person have any substantive role in deciding what the next generation of Texas schoolchildren learn in their social studies classrooms?
15 thoughts on “David Barton: Now a ‘Constitutional Expert’?”
Wow. Graduating from Harvard Law and teaching Constitutional Law (like a certain president who shall remain nameless) might make you a Constitution expert. This guy ain’t.
BTW, God might be a conservative, but Jesus was clearly a liberal… with all his talk about “doing unto the least of these is like doing unto me” and “the love of money is the root of all evil” and “it is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of the needle than to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” stuff.
Just what is it about, “…promote the general Welfare…” that Barton doesn’t understand?
LRA, Christians believe that Jesus IS God, one of three “persons” in a monotheistic God. So, God is really a conservative/liberal. Perhaps God sometimes experiences cognitive dissonance when dealing with political issues. The triune or trinitarian God of Christianity is totally unlike the fully monotheistic God of Judaism (and of Islam), so the term often used by religious right commentators, “Judeo-Christianity,” is a contradiction in terms. Christianity certainly arose out of Judaism (Jesus and his Disciples were all Jewish!), but the two religions are completely different. Muslims and Jews secretly believe that the Christian God is polytheistic, but they are too polite to say so.
And then there’s Zeus.
Steven Schafersman, I tried to cover that topic several pages back but got nowhere. Nobody accepted what I wrote. I wonder if they’ll accept what you wrote.
I’m Jewish (I don’t know if you are), but I don’t think I’d go so far as to say Jews believe the Christian God is polytheistic. I think it’s more a case that the Christian God is a multiple personality (like that movie, The Three Faces Of Eve), being “three in one.” Nowhere in Jewish scripture does God ever say “There’s three of me here” or “I am Three.” On the contrary, God stressed [ad nauseum] “I am One.” It is the Christians who broke that One up into three – for reasons unknown to me. So I don’t think their God is multiple so much as he/she is fractured. Mathematics teaches you can’t divide one into three but, hey, we’re talking metaphysical acrobatics here.
Yes, Judeo-Christianity is an oxymoron in the sense that the term makes no sense. A better term is ‘Abrahamic’ if one is referring to the three major Judeo-derived faiths.
To bring this back to the original questions:
Why does the right continue to defy credibility by proclaiming that someone so absurdly unqualified is an expert at anything other than pushing political agendas?
Answer: Because they are only interested in pushing a political agenda; anyone can be an expert at anything so long as they are particularly competent at pushing the political agenda.
And why in the world should that person have any substantive role in deciding what the next generation of Texas schoolchildren learn in their social studies classrooms?
Answer: See above. The pushed agenda needs to be permanent, not just for this generation only.
Actually, the main requirements for being an expert in anything are 1) to be 50 miles or more from home and 2) to posess a PowerPoint presentation on the subject.
and 3) to be nominated by Don Mcleroy.
Like many on the Right, Barton thinks that because he has gone to school, he is an expert on education.
Guys like David Barton are a source of embarrassment to the Lone Star State, but they do provide good material for comedians. The trouble is that what the SBOE does can harm kids, not only in Texas but wherever the SBOE has influence.
Christian conservatives like Barton and the “reporter” who wrote the story live in their own weird little parallel reality.
And it speaks very badly of Texas Republicans that they keep electing know-nothings like David Bradley, Gail Lowe, Don McLeroy and Cynthia Dunbar to public office.
“Healthcare is not a federal issue. It is a state and people issue — the same with transportation. The Constitution does say that the federal government can take care of what are called the post roads — those on which the mail travels — but outside of that, states are responsible for their own highways, their own roads, their own county, local, state roads.”
It might surprise Barton to discover that there is a whole Federal Department of Transportation, and they find a few other things to do besides maintain post roads..
I am a retired high social studies teacher, and when I read about the panel that is revising the Texas state ss curriculum, I was speechless. I feel especially sorry for the students who who will be short-changed by the curriculum. There is no excuse for replacing important historical events/persons with the impact of the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, et al who have made few, if any, contributions to this nation or the world.
Barton is an idiot. Anyone with half of a brain can see that.
I’m sorry bridit, but as much as I’d love to agree, it’s obvious that Barton is no idiot. An ultra-conservative pushing for a theocracy, certainly. But let’s face it; He’s got into exactly the position he wanted to, and so far, he’s been extremely successful in his historical revisionist BS. Of course, he’s getting a whole lot of help from people with clout, but you can’t take away the fact that a relatively uneducated goober from Texas has yet to find his Peter Principle level of incompetence, and he’s soaking his followers for quite a tidy sum, as well.
Barton is a brilliant businessman and snake-oil salesman. I think he is sincere, but after all, how could we tell? If I were entirely unprincipled and amoral, I too would make a very comfortable living fleecing the sheeple. I speak Evangelical fluently, and these poor gullible people’s buttons are sticking out all over them and marked in big Red Letters (that one’s for you, Cytocop), “PUSH ME”.