On Tuesday, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell attacked the father of the Constitution, James Madison, saying he would be "aghast" that a black man now holds the presidency.
During Tuesday's The Last Word, O'Donnell cites District Judge Richard J. Leon's decision the previous day that the NSA collecting phone records is an "unconstitutional invasion of privacy." In his decision, Leon says Founding Father, James Madison, would be aghast at the NSA's breach of privacy.
Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware "the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power," would be aghast.
O'Donnell takes issue with the judge's comment about Madison being aghast at the NSA, as he admits he does with any judge or politician who invokes the Founding Fathers, calling it a "rhetorical flourish."
It's something judges do all the time to try to align their decision with the great minds, the Founding Fathers. There is no more abused judicial device than to invoke one of the Founding Fathers and assign a judicial opinion to him. And politicians do it all the time, too, telling you that the Founding Fathers would be aghast at this or that. Let's just get something straight about the Founding Fathers; we have no idea how they would react to the modern world.
O'Donnell hopes the appeals court judges will just "stick with the facts" and "spare us the mind reading of men who have been dead for a couple of hundred years" and leave the mind reading of those long, dead men…to him. After all, he knows exactly how Madison would react to the modern world:
So, we do know what James Madison would be aghast at. We do know that James Madison would be aghast at interracial marriage. We do know that James Madison would be aghast at an integrated cabinet room in the White House, first with African-American members of the cabinet and now with an African-American president presiding over that cabinet, a president elected by a national coalition of voters that included African-Americans and women, people who James Madison could never imagine even having the right to vote. But we have absolutely no way of knowing if James Madison would be aghast at the tools that that president authorizes the NSA to use to, among other things, protect the country from terrorist attack by haters of America who believe they have a religious imperative to kill as many non-combatant American citizens as possible, people who have committed no greater crime against those terrorists than going to work in the world trade center on September 11th.
We have no idea whether James Madison would be more aghast at Al-Qaeda than he would be at the NSA. And Judge Leon doesn't know that either. What we do know is that James Madison would be aghast at the final judgment on Judge Leon's opinion being rendered by a United States Supreme Court that includes three women and a black man.
That is a lot of mind reading for someone so against mind reading. O'Donnell claims that Madison, by not lifting a finger to stop slavery, somehow approved it and therefore is a racist. But that ignores so much of what he did believe about slavery:
We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.
[The Convention] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.
[I]f slavery, as a national evil, is to be abolished, and it be just that it be done at the national expense, the amount of the expense is not a paramount consideration.
O'Donnell claims there is no way to know how the Founding Fathers would react to the modern world and then tells you how they would react to the modern world. Hypocrisy at its finest.