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March 26, 2009


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I read Bernstein's comments hoping to understand this. Not only does he fail to quote Limbaugh's remarks (he does try to characterize them, however), he also fails to show that whatever Limbaugh said was unsupported by Bernstein's book. Rather than generalities dumping on the guy, a few quotes from Limbaugh and the book would let the reader decide things more easily.

R. B. Bernstein

To JohnF:

I provided a link in my essay to Limbaugh's piece, and I thought that that would be the equivalent of quoting him in full. Let me try again to explain what my problem is:

Limbaugh is taking Jefferson's critique of Hamilton as true and then applying it to Obama.

In my book, which Limbaugh uses as authority for his post, I did NOT posit that Jefferson was right about Hamilton nor that Hamilton was right about Jefferson. Rather, I tried to give the reader a sense of the arguments pitting the two men against each other, while recognizing that each played vital roles in the origins of the new nation.

In parrticular, contrary to Limbaugh, Hamilton did *not* want "to vastly grow the federal government" -- implying an expansion beyond its constitutional limts. Hamilton only wanted to ensure that the federal government, given its implied powers under Article I, section 8, clause 13, could use those powers to the fullest permissible extent to achieve the objectives defined by the Constitution. For that matter, Obama wants to do the same. Both men were/are responding to major fiscal and financial crises threatening the economy and requiring creative and vigorous use of federal power to respond to those crises and to prevent them from taking the economy down. BUT Hamilton was trying to CREATE a sound federal fiscal system and national economy, and Obama is trying to PRESERVE and RESTORE a sound federal fiscal system and national economy. That's another point where the analogy between the two fails; that's why I say that the difference between the two policies is like the difference between ham and microchips.

By contrast, Jefferson MISREAD Hamilton's intentions, because he did NOT believe in the "implied powers" doctrine (even though he used it skillfully in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, as shown in my book, though not without qualms about waht he was doing). At least Jefferson was sincere in his misreading of Hamilton's intentions. By contrast, Limbaugh DELIBERATELY misreads Obama's intentions, with malice aforethought, especially given Limbaugh's embrace of the unconstitutional and monarchic "unitary presidency" advanced by Cheney, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzalez and embraced by George W. Bush -- something, by the way, that Hamilton would have repudiated with scorn, as shown by his arguments in THE FEDERALIST No. 69.

Limbaugh is misrepresenting the arguments of my book and misusing them for present political advantage. My book is a biography the chief strength of which is its sensitivity to historical context, which Limbaugh wouldn't know if it bit him on the nose.

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