Saturday, January 24, 2004

Followup to rant below: So here's the the Defense of Marriage Act that John Edwards doesn't understand:

Now, read this and decide if this man is ready to be President:

1 USCA § 7. Definition of 'marriage' and 'spouse'

"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.".

28 USCA § 1738C. Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof

"No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.".

OK, that's it. Now, how hard is that to grasp, for a practicing attorney who thinks he is smart enough to be President of the United States? Think he's ready to do the job? I don't.
Off-topic rant follows--I just can't stand it...
...that everybody is letting John Edward off the hook for completely misunderstanding the Defense of Marriage Act. Here is what he said on Thursday: ..."what happened with the Defense of Marriage Act is it took away the power of states, like Vermont, to be able to do what they chose to do about civil unions, about these kinds of marriage issues. These are issues that should be left -- Massachusetts, for example, has just made a decision, the supreme court at least has made a decision, that embraces the notion of gay marriage. I think these are decisions that the states should have the power to make. And the Defense of Marriage Act, as I understand it -- you're right, I wasn't there when it was passed -- but as I understand it, it would have taken away that power. And I think that's wrong. That power should not be taken away from the states. "
He was then given an opportunity to correct himself, and he insisted on this bone-head position even though it was obvious that Brit Hume was telling him he was wrong:
"HUME: Does not the Defense of Marriage Act specifically say that the court rulings in one state, which might, for example, recognize a gay marriage, may not be imposed on anther state? In other words, doesn't the Defense of Marriage go to the very position which you yourself take?
EDWARDS: No, the Defense of Marriage -- first of all, I wasn't in the Congress, I don't claim to be an expert on this. But as I understand the Defense of Marriage Act, it would take away the power of some states to choose whether they would recognize or not recognize gay marriages. That's my understanding of it."

Now, I have three problems with this. The first is that he is completely wrong. That is exactly the opposite of what the DOMA did. The act is very short and simple, and it does two things. It defines "marriage" as a man-woman union, wherever the word appears in federal law, and it absolves states from the obligation they would ordinarily have under the Full Faith and Credit Clause to recognize gay marriages authorized by other states. So, as Hume correctly said, the Act accomplished exactly what Edwards says still needs to be done.
Second, it is simply amazing to me that the press blew off such an enormous gaffe. If Dan Quayle or any other Republican did this, they would be forever branded as an airhead pretty-boy who was too lightweight for the presidency.
Three, why isn't he being criticized for his ridiculous excuse? Edwards blithely says, well, I wasn't in the Senate when this passed, and the press dutifullly accepts that nonsense as if it made sense. Is he only responsible for knowing about laws passed since he showed up in the Senate? How about the First Amendment? The Commerce Clause? The Civil Rights Acts? Can he claim that the Fair Housing Act allows racial discrimination in housing, and then when he is told it bans discrimination, just say, "Oh. Well, I wasn't in the Senate in 1968, so I'm no expert, but that's my understanding."
What was Edward doing in 1996, when the DOMA passed? He was a practicing attorney, for Pete's sake! And now he's a Senator, and he wants to be President in a year. And he's been running around the country debating and speaking for months. And the subject of gay marriage just happens to be hot now, with the Mass. supreme court making their famous decision. So why on earth is he spouting off about gay marriage when he hasn't bothered to read only the federal law on the subject? (The law can be found at 1 USCA 7 (the definition part) and 28 USCA 1738C (the full faith and credit part.)
This la-de-dah attitude toward the substance of policy is increasingly common, I think. Politicians are allowed to spout off about complicated issues based on their ideological orientation, their interest group base, and some half-baked understanding of the facts and the law. Then it's on to the next issue and the next news cycle, and it's as though it never happened. Al Sharpton's inability to distinguish between the Federal Reserve Board and the International Monetary Fund was similarly glossed over in the next day's news. The only difference between the two candidates' mistakes is that Sharpton has no chance of ever being elected. But people are now claiming that Edwards is a serious contender.
Wow. Talk about a guy who will need on-the-job training.