The latest attempt to pass a constitutional amendment allowing Congress to pass laws against flag “desecration” failed by one vote in the Senate. It had already passed the House. Had it passed the Senate, it would surely have gotten the approval of the necessary three-fourths of the states.

Here’s a brief article from the New York Times summarizing the vote.

One vote, folks. That’s how stupid and right-wing this country has gotten. People who support flag-burning amendments are the sort of people who like their patriotism cheap, empty and emotional. No serious person could possibly think this is an important issue to be discussing now (or ever). There is absolutely no one who is losing sleep over the possibility that some disgruntled college student is going to burn a flag. It is designed solely as a sop to those people who think patriotism is found in protecting the symbols of the country, rather than in protecting the principles of the country. It’s so much easier to support a flag-burning amendment and boast of your patriotism than it is to forthrightly address any of the real problems facing the nation.

That the Republicans brought it up now is obviously a bit of political posturing in preparation for the upcoming elections. And the sad part is they are probably right to think it will win them more votes than it costs them in November.

The full vote is available here. Not too many surprises. Only three Republicans voted against it. Lincoln Chafee (RI), Bob Bennett (UT) and Mitch McConnell (KY). Chafee is no surprise; he’s one of the few moderate Republicans left in the Congress. But Bennett and McConnell are both solid conservatives.

I counted thirteen Democrats that voted in favor of the amendment. There, too, most of them were unsurprising, coming from solidly red states. The biggest surprise was that Diane Feinstein (CA) voted in favor of the amendment. That’s very disappointing.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, I’m happy to say, voted against it. She’s been making some disturbing remarks in her speeches about “protecting the flag,” but when it came time to act she voted the right way. So did Joe Lieberman, so it’s nice to see that he hasn’t completely gone over to the dark side.

All in all, the vote confirms what I’ve long believed about American politics. To the extent that there is any hope that the government will do the right thing in a given situation, that hope lies with the Democratic Party. The Democrats will let you down a lot of the time (thirteen Democratic votes for the amendment is way too many), but they don’t relentlessly court the idiot vote the way the Republicans do.


  1. #1 Spike
    June 27, 2006

    Too bad our Hope lies with the Democrats. They’re pretty notorious for how they treat women like her.

  2. #2 Gerry L
    June 27, 2006

    Apparently courage is no longer a desirable characteristic for a political career.

    Maybe it’s time someone wrote a book — a collection of essays — that could be titled “Profiles in Pandering.” Leonard Pitts’ column should definitely be included

  3. #3 Joseph j7uy5
    June 28, 2006

    It’s so much easier to support a flag-burning amendment and boast of your patriotism than it is to forthrightly address any of the real problems facing the nation.

    Boastfulness is what this is all about. It isn’t patriotism that gets people all worked up; it is narcissism.

  4. #4 Anonymous
    June 28, 2006

    I’m not sure why you’re surprised about Feinstein. She’s a disgrace.

  5. #5 Vincent Kargatis
    June 28, 2006

    It bothers me to see this issue objected to on the basis that desecration doesn’t happen often, or that it’s not a “real problem”. That’s completely irrelevant to the fact that this is an assault on freedom of expression. It’s simply the attempt to allow the ban of a particular kind of offensive expression – there’s nothing qualitatively different about that expression vs. other kinds. I view it as nothing less than an emasculation of one of this society’s fundamental freedoms.

  6. #6 gravitybear
    June 28, 2006

    I live in MN, and it was no surprise to me that Norm Coleman (R) voted for it. I was very surprised that Mark Dayton (D) voted the same.
    I’m almost sorry I voted for him. If one other senator had voted for it and it passed, I would have cursed Dayton until the day he died.
    His seat is up but he has chosen not to run, so he doesn’t even have that excuse (as paltry as it would have been anyway). Too bad I won’t get the chance to vote against him in the primary this year.

  7. #7 ArtK
    June 28, 2006

    I, too, was very disappointed in Senator Feinstein. I wrote her a pretty angy letter, not that it will matter one bit.

  8. #8 kfnyc
    June 28, 2006

    this saves me from having to create a digital burning flag and emailing it to all my friends…

  9. #9 richCares
    June 30, 2006

    estimates are that we will need to hire 1200 flag burning police to stop the 8 or 9 flag burnings a year. That’s neat. These are the same people that rant about communism and Castro’s cuba while trading with and borrowing money from Communist China. Cuba = small = no money
    China = big = lots of money
    they can only be anti communist against little Cuba
    Chin is communist, China is evil but they got MONEY
    is Republican a synonym for Hypocrite

  10. #10 BNR
    July 5, 2006

    The way a see it is the flag is a symbol of our freedoms and without those it is a worthless piece of cloth. Therefore, limiting away the right of free speech, as the proposed ammendment does, makes the flag a worthless piece of cloth, with no reason except waste not to burn it.

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