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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Who Killed the Constitution?: The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush

Who Killed the Constitution?: The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Thomas E. Woods Jr.

“If you want to know why the federal government regulates the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the words you speak, readWho Killed the Constitution?. . . When the history of these unfree times is written, Tom Woods’s and Kevin Gutzman’s … see full wiki

Author: Thomas E. Woods Jr.
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Crown Forum
1 review about Who Killed the Constitution?: The Fate of...

Pathologists' report on the Republic

  • Jul 25, 2008
Rating:
+5
I sometimes think that in an era when "history" means who won last season's American Idol, one of the hardest things to get people to understand is that the assault on the American Constitution didn't begin with George W. Bush. The systematic attempt to expand and centralize State power at the expense of individual liberty goes much farther back in our past ... probably to the very adoption of the Constitution in place of the Articles of Confederation, but at least, as Thomas Woods and Kevin Gutzman argue, to the first world war. Indeed, as I saw someone express it recently, George W. Bush is a pro-bono attorney for the ACLU compared to that true monster, Woodrow Wilson.

So that's the first thing about "Who Killed the Constitution?": the authors' well-grounded historical viewpoint. The second is their research and documentation. It would be one thing to disregard them as ideologists if all they were doing was huffing and puffing like a Fox News pundit. But for them to marshal facts and citations and many, many quotations, as they do, makes this not pontificating but important investigative history. Discounting the seriousness of their argument would require ... well, exactly what has been happening for that last century or so ... the bald-faced denial of the evidence of our senses and reason. But if the rational reader can't see through that after a few hours in these pages, then I'm not sure what more we can do.

Of course, I'm not entirely sure what we can do anyway. I was all set to write that I wished I shared the authors' belief that Something Can Be Done, that the Republic is salvageable, and what's been lost can be regained. I had even prepared to title my review something like "A great book, heartbreakingly irrelevant."

I should have paid more attention to the title.

You see, the authors are not asking *whether* the Constitution is dead. They know it is. It was murdered by presidents, legislators, and jurists who sought Constitutional cover to create a veil of legitimacy around what they had already planned to do. Once they've come up with the arguments in which to clothe their intentions (the Constitution's "capacity for adaptation is indefinitely flexible," Justice George Sutherland wrote in 1919 [p. 162]), they lift the Constitution into the air like a shamanistic totem and the rest of us fall into line, hand over heart, like they knew we would.

Imperial ipsedixitism triumphs again.

So then what's left for the remnant? To their credit, the authors are more skilled than I at avoiding resignation. They write in their final paragraph that it's up to the American people to decide what to do with the information here presented. As I asked in my review of Woods' 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, what if they're right? Whether this great book does in fact turn out to be heart-breakingly irrelevant is one, I suppose, that will only be answered in hindsight.

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