Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hey, Dick Armey! You Talkin' To Me?

Dana Milbank takes down Dick Armey:
A member of the audience passed a question to the moderator, who read it to Armey: How can the Federalist Papers be an inspiration for the tea party, when their principal author, Alexander Hamilton, "was widely regarded then and now as an advocate of a strong central government"?

Historian Armey was flummoxed by this new information. "Widely regarded by whom?" he challenged, suspiciously. "Today's modern ill-informed political science professors? . . . I just doubt that was the case in fact about Hamilton."
Emphasis, as they say, added.  Both bold and italics, just to make sure.

Here's the thing.  There were two main authors of the Federalist Papers.  Everyone agrees that of the two, Hamilton was more of a centralizer, right?  I'm of course just a ill-informed political scientist, so what do I know, but I do agree on that point.  So that makes Madison the (relatively) states' rights guy.  And what did Madison want?  He wanted the national government to be able to veto any state law

Here's Madison, in a letter to Jefferson after the convention, explaining how "private rights will be more secure under the Guardianship of the General Government than under the State Governments":
The due partition of power between the General and local Governments, was perhaps, of all, the most nice and difficult. A few contended for an entire abolition of the States; some, for indefinite power of Legislation in the Congress, with a negative on the laws of the States; some, for such a power without a negative; some, for a limited power of legislation, with such a negative; the majority, finally, for a limited power without the negative. The question with regard to the negative underwent repeated discussions, and was finally rejected by a bare majority. As I formerly intimated to you my opinion in favor of this ingredient, I will take this occasion of explaining myself on the subject. Such a check on the States appears to me necessary...

Oh, and that business of a few wanting to abolish the states?  That would probably be Dick Armey's good friend, about whom he knows so much: Alexander Hamilton.

But for course, what do I know -- I'm just an ill-informed, yadda yadda.

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