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Lecturing Americans To ‘Reread’ Constitution, Herman Cain Confuses It With Declaration of Independence

By Ian Millhiser on May 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

"Lecturing Americans To ‘Reread’ Constitution, Herman Cain Confuses It With Declaration of Independence"

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During GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain’s campaign announcement on Saturday, the former pizza executive took a moment to lecture the country on its need to “reread the Constitution”:

CAIN: We don’t need to rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America, we need to reread the Constitution and enforce the Constitution. … And I know that there are some people that are not going to do that, so for the benefit of those who are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

You know, those ideals that we live by, we believe in, your parents believed in, they instilled in you. When you get to the part about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” don’t stop there, keep reading. Cause that’s when it says “when any form of government becomes destructive of those ideals, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” We’ve got some altering and some abolishing to do!

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Cain really should have taken his own advice, however, before he decided to lecture the entire country about the Constitution. The phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution’s text. Nor does the Constitution include a phrase about the right of the people to alter or abolish a government that is destructive of their ideals. Both of those phrases appear in the Declaration of Independence, which, in case Mr. Cain is not aware, is actually an entirely different document than the Constitution — written over ten years earlier.

Sadly, Cain’s Bachmannesque ignorance of the nation’s founding documents makes him well-suited to compete in a GOP presidential primary. Republicans invented an utterly meritless constitutional objection to the Affordable Care Act, they’ve called everything from Social Security to Medicare to child labor laws unconstitutional, and they’ve even pretended that the Constitution allows them to strip Americans of their citizenship. So Cain needs to look no further than his own party if he wants to find people who are more interested in rewriting the Constitution than in actually reading it. (HT: David Bernstein)

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