A ‘defective’ talking point

A ‘DEFECTIVE’ TALKING POINT…. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele hoped to put Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on the defensive yesterday, blasting her for having quoted Thurgood Marshall about a “defective” U.S. Constitution that allowed slavery. Instead, Steele managed to create yet another controversy surrounding his often bizarre remarks.

If the goal was to generate media interest in the attack, the RNC succeeded spectacularly. The problem, of course, was that all of the media interest was directed at the Republican Party, not Kagan. The Washington Post‘s Colbert King described Steele’s attack as “incredibly idiotic.” Politico‘s Ben Smith called it a “particularly odd line of attack.” Even the New York Sun noted that “it’s hard to imagine what [Steele] was thinking.”

Today, two leading Senate Republicans wanted nothing to do with Steele’s line of attack.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, acknowledged today that the original Constitution had some problems.

“I would say that the original Constitution was a document that needed amending, and after the Civil War it was amended and removed those offending parts,” he told reporters.

Another Judiciary Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), agreed.

“I don’t like to see anybody downgrade the Constitution, but let’s face it: The Constitution, to get passed, had to give the three-fifths language to the south, and that’s what Thurgood Marshall was referring to,” Hatch said. “And I think most people in retrospect say that was a compromise that they had to make in order to have the Constitution, but it wasn’t right. The rest of the Constitution was right.”

Well, almost all of the rest of the Constitution was right — some of those other amendments were worthwhile, too.

In any case, the RNC appears to have backed off, and isn’t pushing the “defective” talking point today. Imagine that. We are, however, left with additional evidence that Michael Steele is the most embarrassing national party leader in recent memory.

Update: On a related note, davenoon at LG&M noted that my item on this yesterday, regarding the Federal ratio (e.g., “3/5 compromise”), was imprecise. I appreciate the clarification.