Conservative commentators continue their war on the Constitution this week with increasingly shrill rhetoric of how our laws and civil liberties are endangering us. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, however, achieved a remarkable low by declaring “I don’t care about the Constitution” on air in a discussion of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try five detainees in New York.
I am always struck by anti-American rhetoric that comes from such figures. The Constitution is the very thing that defines who we are as a nation. It is the thing that we have sacrificed lives and treasure to protect. Yet, people like O’Reilly have little reluctance in trashing it. I am less surprised by Karl Rove, who has shown little personal commitment to the rule of law and barely escaped an indictment in the Plame matter. Rove declared that giving a fair trial to terror suspects is a “long-standing plot” by “left-wing lawyers who do not love America.” America, it seems, is something other than our values and founding documents. It is, I suppose, Fox News.
I have no delusion about O’Reilly, but I am still struck by the dismissive contempt shown this common article of faith between citizens, the Constitution. While we have considerable political, religious, and cultural differences, that document is something of a covenant of faith between us as citizens. One cannot love this country without loving that document. What is less is land and “lifestyle.” O’Reilly’s statement is every bit as offensive as those of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom I also denounced. Yet, it was met with acclaim rather than condemnation from conservative viewers.