Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Webb Watch, Part 2

Herewith a new NLT feature: the Jim Webb Watch. Andrew Ferguson has a column on him today, noting his heterodox views on, especially, the Clintons. Some Webb greatest hits:

"It is a pleasurable experience to watch Bill Clinton finally being judged, even by his own party, for the ethical fraudulence that has characterized his entire political career.’’ (From a 2001 article.)

Both Bill and Hillary, he wrote in 2001, embody a "a pervasive elitism, from people who were taught when young that the laws that applied to their countrymen did not necessarily apply to them.’’ Wonder how those cloakroom conversations with Hillary will go.

Then there’s this on affirmative action: "a permeating state-sponsored racism that is as odious as the Jim Crow laws it sought to countermand.’’

Discussions - 27 Comments

I don’t get it, Hayward. What’s your point? That Webb is a naked opportunist? That pure populism permeates the souless Democrat Party?

As far as I can tell the election is over, and Webb has six very long years to be for the Clintons and then against the Clintons and, finally, for them again. As his novels clearly reveal, Webb is a very deep and complicated man. How else could he so eloquently express a father’s deep love for his son than by softly placing the boy’s penis in the father’s mouth, for crying out loud?

As with many in this new class of U.S. Senators, we all expect great things from Mr. Webb in the coming years.

This Clinton bashing is really kind of lame. I don’t think he’s even running for office.

Readers may wish to check in on the other Webb thread for the riotous action to be found there. The posts number in the 70s now. The Confederacy has risen up.

Mr. Thomas


I commend you for your bravery in directing readers to that thread. I figured you would not want them to see it since, as with First Manassas, the Confederates are so obviously getting the better of the Unionists.


For the record, since I don’t want to be misinterpreted as a Webb defender instead of a secession defender, if I lived in Virginia I would not have voted for either of them. Webb because he is pro-choice and Allen because he is a squishy-soft, mainstream Republican (sorry, that was redundant) who disrespected the Confederate Flag and Southern heritage so he could kiss up to the PC thought police.

Secession is not on the agenda of the incoming Congress or any future Congress that can be imagined. Let’s see where Webb stands on the actual issues. If he does the right thing, he’s a good guy whom we can praise, with the appropriate qualifications. And if not, not.

"Secession is not on the agenda of the incoming Congress"


You can’t blame a guy for hoping.

Well, I must admit, as much as I oppose secession, if the South were to try it again now they’d have a fair chance of getting away with it. As soon as the North started suffering losses we’d be flooded with modern-day copperheads.

Mr. Moser,


You betray your ideological commitment to the modern state. Who said anything about wins and losses? If we behaved like rational, sensible, civilized people, then secession would be perfectly peaceful. Even if you don’t concede the legality of secession, why do you think it would warrant war? That seems downright barbaric to me.


You would never catch me fighting to keep a Northern State in the Union. If Mass. said today that they wanted to secede, I ask them if they needed any help packing.

Maybe this thread is not the best place to bring it up, but I wonder what John Moser thinks of the way northern intellectuals (such as Emerson) reacted to John Brown’s terrorist attack on Virginia.

Red Phillips - Since secession was conrary to the constitution, and since it was intended to nullify a presidential election, then self-government itself was at stake - precisely what Lincoln patiently (though over-optimistically) explained in his First Inaugural Address. Defending self-government seems a fairly good cause.

Brutus - Thoreau was especially over-the- top in his praise of John Brown. So? Are you defending secession on the ground that life with "northern intellectuals" was not worth living?

Steve, can you point to that part of the Constitution of the United States that is "contrary" to secession?

I, on the other hand, CAN point to that part of the Constitution that explicitly allows anything that is NOT in the document. It’s called the 9th Amendment, and although Father Abe ignored it, to the best of my knowledge it has never been repealed (nor any other part of the Bill of RIGHTS).

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Steve, it looks like you are answering a question with a question.

Dain, that’s the Tenth Amendment

Mr. Thomas,


That Lincoln was "defending" self-government is a complete joke. (Do you really believe that foolishness?) He was attempting to stamp out self-government at the point of a gun. Why would the election of an entirely regional president not be the perfect reason to secede? Lincoln didn’t carry a single Confederate State. He obviously was hostile to the interest of the South. I can think of no better reason to secede. The election revealed what many had known for a long time. The Union bound together (at least) two regions that were incompatible. Secession was a perfectly good way to remedy that. We could have remained friends. We would have had a very close trading relationship. But we could not be commonly governed.


Look up the essay "Secession and The Modern State" by Dr. Livingston that I mentioned on the other thread. Your problem is that you can not separate in your mind sovereignty from territory. So any loss of territory is somehow an attack on the sovereignty of the whole. But it need not be that way. That is your ideological commitment to the modern state making you incapable of conceiving of it in any other way.

Red Phillips - Yes, I really believe that foolishness. The nationalist premise (which you reject, I know) is that there was no a constitutional right to secede. The whole nation contested the election. Lincoln not only carried no future "Confederate" state; he received not a single Electoral Vote from any slave state. In many of them he was not even on the ballot. No matter. Secession was prompted by Lincoln’s election, which showed for the first time that a majority of the Electoral College could be had without the south. (No wonder that some southern states made good on their long-standing threat: from their point of view, a majority faction had seized control of the country.)

NEVERTHELESS (as Katherine Hepburn says in "African Queen"), free or republican government was at stake when the losers rejected the result of the election. As we all know, Lincoln refused to compromise on the question of trying to stop the extension of slavery. Even so, the outcome was in doubt until the firing on Fort Sumter and then the calling for volunteers. Your "invasion" of the south was for the purpose of enforcing federal law and protecting the Capital - the south having substantially mobilized already following Harper’s Ferry.

That’s the foolish and conventional (and I suppose Yankee) account.

I shall look up Dr. Livingston (I presume)’s evidently contrary account.

9,10..eh. Whatever.

Honestly, I don’t know how I did that...my biorhythmes must be all fouled today.

P.S. Red Phillips - You say Lincoln was hostile to the interest of the South. Undoubtedly many in the south thought so, and did not believe a lifetime of reassurances from him, that the moral contradiction of slavery in the Republic was a NATIONAL problem. See the Lyceum Address, see Cooper Union, see both his Inaugural Addresses. Of course, everybody’s favorite line from the First has to be, to the effect: you think slavery right, we think it wrong, and that’s the only difference between us!

Actually, my favorite line from the Lincoln’s First Inaugural is the one where he promises to support a Constitutional Amendment protecting slavery. That stupid amendment actually made it out of both Houses (with the South already gone) and several northern states (including Ohio)ratified it.

Here’s the text of the "first" Thirteenth amendment: "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfer, within any state, with the domestic institutions therof, inculding that of persons held tolabor or service by the laws of said state."

If the South had stayed in the Union the United States might have been stuck with slavery for another 100 years.

Here’s what Lincoln said:

I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution, which amendment, however, I have not seen, has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

P.S. By the way, what could it mean to say that an Amendment was "irrevocable"?

This was Lincoln bending over backwards and buying time: keep VA and TN in the Union and the game would be won.

I think it’s fair to say that most Southerners didn’t take Lincoln at his "word" (the statement could have been a bit more straightforward). Moreover, perhaps they were simply tired of worrying about protecting their interests in the Union...the temptation to create a more homogenous political arrangement proved overwhelming. The New Englanders had toyed with the idea in 1812, and more recently some crazy blue-staters wanted to join Canada! Faced with becoming a permanent sectional minority, it would be tempting.

It would not be the first time that the Constitution contained unamendable language protecting slavery. See Article V: "Provided that no Amendment which may be made prioor to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the nineth section of the first article...."

Lincoln is clearly wrong. The "first" Thirteenth Amendment offered protection to slavery above and beyond the language already in the Constitution.

Perhaps even more interesting is the question of whether or not Lincoln was lying. I find it difficult to believe that a constitutional amendment would make it out of Congress without him having seen it.

I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned a primary reason why South Carolina seceded--frustration over the failure of northern states to enforce the fugitive slave law. This might help explain why southerners weren’t interested in any compromise amendment. A guarantee that slavery wouldn’t be banned where it already existed could never be sufficient for southern slaveholders. They wanted to pass the costs of slavery’s enforcement onto the North as well. Here was a clear example of the South demanding that the federal government coerce northern states--no sentimental invocations of "states’ rights" when it came to protecting the peculiar institution.

It would be pretty stupid to secede over lax enforcement of Article IV Section 2. If the North made even a 50% effort under the Constitution they would make 0% effort without the South out of the Union. Of course the South could argue, correctly, that the North failed to live up to its constitutional obligations.

Mr. Moser, I actually agree with you that the South insisting on the Northern States enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act was a bit hypocritical. Principles often fall by the wayside when emotions and longstanding grudges get involved.


But I also think it is hypocritical for someone taking the pro-Union position to not criticize the Northern States for not following the federal law. Under your system they are obligated to. Under my system, the Northern States would have had a remedy. They could have NULLIFIED the Fugitive Slave Act.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/9393