Robert Bennett: Getting a government of compromise

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  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 27, 2013 10:57 p.m.

    J Thompson,

    No this thread is not about Tyler’s questions but you and Mike Richards frequently make these threads about your very specific constitutional interpretation. Tyler D was merely challenging you to defend your beliefs on a specific issue. So, it was no red herring.

    I have zero issue with DOMA but I Tyler D’s point is cogent. If you believe in a constitution with limited, enumerated powers, DOMA was not possible. I happen to not believe in such a strict construct hence my having no problem with DOMA. But you have a very strict interpretation of the constitution so it would seem (at least on the surface) that DOMA would not be possible under your construction.

    BTW, of course it was not passed by the people (don’t know why you capitalize it). There is no legislative function for the people in the constitution.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Aug. 27, 2013 6:52 p.m.


    This thread is not about you or your questions. It is about the ideas presented by Mr. Bennett. No one is required to respond to your questions. You threw in a red herring that was meant to divert attention from the subject being discussed. It didn't work. If you have an issue with DOMA, hire a lawyer and sue the government for whatever damages you incurred when that act was in full force.

    That act was not passed by the PEOPLE; it was passed by Congress. The PEOPLE never voted on that act. The PEOPLE never had the chance to debate that act in front of those who voted on it. The PEOPLE had no direct voice on the contents of that act.

    You seem to think that the PEOPLE can do anything that they want. Where is that "right" listed in the Constitution. The Constitution is a contract between the PEOPLE and the Government with absolute limits on the authority of government and implied limits on the demands that the PEOPLE will place on the government. If "something" is not on the enumerated list, the PEOPLE cannot demand that the government provide that "something".

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    Aug. 27, 2013 5:32 p.m.

    Excellent commentary Tyler D.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 27, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    @ J Thompson

    This is what I find so often frustrating about having conversations with conservatives… they love abstracts (like Ayn Rand speeches) but not details & specifics.

    I provided a real concrete example (DOMA) of a law passed by “the People” through their elected representatives and rather than answering the question based on either enumerated powers or jurisprudence, you instead give me a cursory & remedial lecture on an abstract of the Constitution.

    I’ll listen to any arguments you wish to make and may even change my mind if it’s a good one. But what do you expect me to say in response to platitudes and sentiments (which your conclusions are since they do not necessarily follow logically from the Constitution)?

    Best I can tell, you believe the following – unless the Constitution explicitly authorizes it, the Federal government is prohibited from having any involvement. And 2) “the People” means individuals (not Federal, State or Local governments). Is that about right?

    So why doesn’t any SC Justice (even Scalia & Thomas) share this narrow view?

    Reached comment limit so you have the last word… please be specific.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 27, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    Nearly everyday you comment about what you view as the "correct" interpretation of the Constitution--while ignoring the fact that not even those who drafted it agreed on its "correct" interpretation and limits.

    You also conveniently ignore the Necessary and Proper Clause (also known as the Elastic Clause, the Basket Clause, the Coefficient Clause, and the Sweeping Clause in Article One section 8, clause 18:

    "The Congress shall have Power - To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

    In addition to powers to charter and operate federal banks, the clause was linked to the General Welfare clause and the constitutional powers of tax collection and the ability to borrow money to give the federal government virtually complete control over currency.

    The clause has been paired with the Commerce Clause to provide the constitutional basis for a wide variety of federal laws.

    The clause has also been used to uphold and justify federal criminal laws.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Aug. 27, 2013 11:15 a.m.


    The Constitution is binding on the People just as much as it is binding on the Government. It was put in place to restrict the Government from doing anything not allowed by the People. It was also put in place to restict the People from asking the Government to handle their personal welfare needs.

    The 10th Amendment requires that the Federal Government only do those 17 things that have been enumerated in the Constitution. The States are required to handle all duties that their citizens have authorized them to handle in the State's Constitution. All other duties are the responsibility of the individual to handle himself without government assistance.

    The founding fathers believed in personal responsibility. They did not create a nanny government. They did not allow the citizens to appeal to the government for help with their personal welfare.

    There are many laws passed by Congress that are not authorized by the Constitution. The question that you should ask yourself is why you aren't demanding that the Federal Government restrict itself to those 17 duties assigned to it. All other duties are assigned to others. Personal welfare is not a duty of the Federal Government.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 27, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    @Twin Lights

    Could not have said it better – in fact my response would have likely been far worse and polemical (i.e., don’t even get me started on how much moral relativism is found in the Bible).

    @J Thompson – “ALL other duties are to be left to the States or to the People, as required by the 10th Amendment.”

    That’s true… so what does “the People” mean?

    Can “The People” elect representatives to Congress who will pass laws they want (as long as those laws are not forbidden by the Constitution)?

    Take DOMA – Justice Kennedy’s opinion notwithstanding, was that a legitimate law? It would seem be your understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) DOMA would have been prima facie unconstitutional since the Constitution makes no mention of marriage.

    It seems very few conservatives (even strict constructionists like Scalia) take this position as all four conservatives on the SC thought the law was legitimate (passed through the democratic process and not forbidden by the Constitution).

    Please clarify if I have misunderstood or misrepresented your views…

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Aug. 27, 2013 9:10 a.m.

    The reason the Government is very divided is because the people of the country are very divided. And remember. Remember this well. There was no compromise with Republicans on Obamacare. The most expensive legislation in history. So we Republicans don't listen to any Democrat complaints now about compromise.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Aug. 27, 2013 3:23 a.m.

    The Constitution lists seventeen duties that the Federal Government is authorized to perform. Those duties are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. ALL other duties are to be left to the States or to the People, as required by the 10th Amendment.

    How hard is it for someone serving in Congress, or the President, or a Justice of the Supreme Court to compare every bill against the list of duties assigned to the Federal Government? If its not on that list, its not something that the Federal Government can legally do.

    Is that difficult? Is that expecting too much from those who have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution? Should we expect that those we elect can read; that they can count to seventeen; that they can comprehend their job description as written in the Constitution?

    Look at how many people have tried to turn the Constitution into mumble jumble. Look at how many try to tell us that the Constitution is outdated. Perhaps it is they who need to readjust their perspective. The Constitution stands as written until it is amended.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 26, 2013 8:44 p.m.

    Mike Richards

    Compromise is not abandoning the law. And the law is certainly relative. We used to have few laws against drugs, now we have many. We used to allow slavery, now we do not. The law is relative to both time and place (e.g. US law vs. Mexican law).

    Christ’s pronouncement reference the gate was about spiritual law, not the laws of the land. Again, the latter are fluid in time and culture.

    The Constitution is what we say it is. There is no “super judge” to tell us what the Constitution “really means”. There are only the Constitutionally appointed officers – the Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Once all have had their say, there is no other recourse. To seek to go beyond them is specifically to attempt to rupture the Constitution and our social contract.

    The Constitution is not a ruler of rubber or steel. It is an process of how we govern. If that process has been followed and all the Constitutional officers have weighed in, then the result is a Constitutional law (even if we disagree entirely with the law). The current President is not at issue.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 26, 2013 8:00 p.m.


    Why would Americans abandon law for moral relativism? Why would Americans agree that 20mph in a school zone depends on the driver? Why would anyone agree that you have the right to take money from some "rich guys" bank account because you can't enjoy life properly on your ease?

    Christ answered the question 2,000 years ago. He told us that narrow is the gate and straight is the path. He told us that he is the gatekeeper. He told us that if we want to enter in, that we will have to accept his terms completely. That is not "moral relativism". His doctrine requires that we accept absolutes and that we learn to comply with absolutes. He will not compromise the laws to suit those who refuse to abide his laws.

    The Constitution is not a rubber ruler. It is a steel ruler. It cannot be stretched to accommodate your desired results. Your desired results must be modified to match that steel ruler.

    Obama believes in himself. He refuses to abide by the steel ruler that limits his office. No compromise can be offered to someone who won't play by accepted rules.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 26, 2013 4:02 p.m.

    What is a RINO? It is what the traditional Republican party. It was Reagan. It is Christie.

    The tea party (cruz, lee) types remind me of the guy on the boat saying "man that land is moving fast"

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 26, 2013 3:52 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    You are doing all of the work here. Thank you.


    Tip O’Neil was a strong opponent to Reagan. Maybe not a radical but VERY left and a machine politician of the Boston school (where Whitey Bolger’s brother ran the Massachusetts Senate).

    Reagan compromised because he was not the idiot he was often portrayed to be. He knew he had to compromise in order to move his agenda.

    Senator Bennett is purple (meaning not a real conservative)? You have to be kidding. He had solid conservative credentials. His greatest sin was not being a radical in a time of radicals.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 26, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    NONSENSE!! Bennett served mostly in an era where the democrats were NOT mostly left wing radicals as they are today. Reagan could compromise with Tip O'Niel because Tip was a liberal - not a radical. BIG DIFFERENCE. Today we have the democrat party - especially those from the BIG cities - a mirror of the game plan laid out in the how to become a communist book called "Rules for Radicals" by Saul D. Alinsky. Obama is a living example of the twisted teachings of this book. There is no compromise with a leftist radical - none!! How do you compromise with someone who wants Communism? The election of 2010 (where Bennett was ousted along with many of his purple brethren) was a clear signal by the people of America that they indeed wanted BOLD COLORS and not pale pastels anymore. Mike Lee is a bold as they get!

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 26, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    @Mike Richards

    And yet millions of people disagree with your rigid interpretation (and do not ignore all the amendments – re: the taxing clause) including presidents, congresses, and every supreme court since the 1930’s (including the most recent with respect to the ACA).

    And the “burglars & robbers” analogy is really no analogy at all because it sets up a straw man, either/or dilemma with an obvious answer and then tries to map that caricature onto the real world – full of grey areas and fine distinctions - where people of good will (and good understanding) can reach different conclusions.

    But the real question Mike is “how do you then function in a pluralistic society like ours?” One which was set up intentionally by our wise Founders – who could have easily made things black & white but chose not to. How do you deal with people who have honest disagreements about government?

    I admit that it’s a fine line between not compromising one’s principles and not compromising on anything, ever. But from what I’ve seen, the Tea Party folks possess little of the statesmen-like to make these distinctions.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 26, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    When do you compromise? If someone broke into your house and gave you the option of "giving" them your furniture or "giving" them your money? Which "compromise" would you accept?

    Compromise works when those who debate issues stay within the context allowed. We can debate and compromise when we talk about how to use defense dollars. Defense is an enumerated duty of Congress to fund. There can be compromise in that debate.

    Providing personal welfare is not an enumerated duty of the Federal Government. How could anyone "compromise" on that issue? If personal welfare is to be handled by government, it must be handled at the State, County or City level. Honest men would not debate how much federal money to spend on personal welfare. Those who can read would clearly understand the limits placed on the federal government by the Constitution. They would not try to compromise outside the scope allowed.

    Just as we would not "compromise" with burglars or robbers, we must not compromise with those who ignore the Supreme Law of the Land.

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    Aug. 26, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    Politics is the art of compromise. We would not have a constitution without it. Every law ever passed was a result of compromise. People get the context of the word wrong when they mix it with values and morals. When different people from different backgrounds get elected it is the only way to resolve those differences to get things done.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 26, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    Those who profess a superior understanding of the Constitution seem to have forgotten two crucial points:

    1 – The creation and ratification of the Constitution was the most profound act of political compromise the world had ever seen. The Founders were not sanctimonious windbags who only knew how to bloviate and say “no.” They were principled pragmatists who never let the “perfect” by the enemy of the “good.”

    2 – These same men created a document vague enough to allow future generations not only room for interpretation but also the privilege of self-government. This is evidenced both by 1) the fact that people (including the Founders) were opining about the meaning of even small sentence fragments in the Constitution before the ink was dry on the document; and 2) the reason we have/need a Supreme Court. If the Constitution was as crystal clear as some on this board would have us believe, we wouldn’t need the third branch of government.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Aug. 26, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    Wow what a tough subject. You need money run an election campaign. You often go to donors that have the same feelings you do and ask them for money to help you get elected. Then when you are elected you find that Politicos are determined from all angles to ensnare you in their game so they can defeat you. Comprimises are made in order to get your measures passed.

    I am tired of being cynical. I know there are people that are dishonest but I can't believe that many people could be that way. Most of my represenatives I vote for seem to be decent people, I could imagine that is the reason why other represenatives get elected from their areas. In reality our congress is a reflection of us! We vote for people that usually reflect our values and if we are corrupt ourselves we will vote for corrupt leaders. Its time to look inward and how we can change our communities instead of pointing the finger!

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 26, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    According to one internet definition of Corrupt

    "having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain."

    Congressional ethics rules require Members to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

    Mr Bennett. It is certainly possible for a legislator to be unswayed by campaign contributions or lobbying perks when voting on legislation. Are you telling me that this money NEVER affects an outcome? How can it not?

    Are you telling me that these large corporations and unions spend millions of dollars and get NOTHING in return? The Defense industry spent over $130 million lobbying congress in 2012.
    They got nothing?

    Are you telling me that accepting corporate or union money and then voting on critical legislation does not cross the "appearance of impropriety" standard?

    Are you saying that legislators don't act on non public information to enrich themselves?

    Surely you are not that naive.

    I find you letter a bit self serving as you are now a registered lobbyist and running the Bennett Consulting group.

    You are exactly why people have no confidence in the system.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 26, 2013 12:43 a.m.

    No matter what it is called, those who have been elected to office have taken an oath to defend the Constitution, not to compromise on principle. Mr. Bennett may think that compromise is the best remedy for our country's problems, but those who know the duties of elected officials will agree that there can be no compromise when there are elected officials who would do anything or say anything to retain their seat. "Potomac fever" has destroyed the lives and reputations of many. It is not an excuse to reject the oath of office. Honest and honorable elected officials will reject Mr. Bennett's rhetoric. They will honor their oath to defend the Constitution.