Rush Limbaugh Should Read the Constitution

In his nationally-televised, keynote speech to the CPAC conference last night, Rush Limbaugh pulled the standard conservative trick of claiming the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as a conservative birthright, under assault from progressives:

We [conservatives] love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, Liberty, Freedom. And the pursuit of happiness. Those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded. We conservatives think all three are under assault.

Limbaugh may love and revere these documents, but he clearly hasn’t read them recently. Limbaugh says he’s quoting the Constitution’s majestic Preamble, but it says nothing close to what Limbaugh asserts. Here’s its text in its entirety:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Limbaugh appears instead to be referring to the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence, but he’s butchering that too. Here’s that line in its entirety:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Rush adds in a fourth inalienable right to Jefferson’s list – freedom – and he edits out Jefferson’s grandest ideal, equality. No wonder Limbaugh likes the founding documents so much: he’s edited them to his liking.

There is a serious point here, which is that conservatives often distort our Constitution and other founding documents and act as if the Founding Fathers strangely presaged the present-day Republican platform. The errors are not usually as obvious and ridiculous as Limbaugh’s, but they are there nonetheless. As we’ve explained in more detail elsewhere, progressives need to spend far more time calling conservatives out on their false and distorted claims about the meaning of our founding documents and start making more claims of our own.