AP's Will Weissert: Perry's Reference to God-Given Rights Is 'A Nod to the Tea Party'

June 5th, 2015 11:50 PM

On Thursday, the Associated Press's Will Weissert demonstrated that the ignorance of our nation's founding documents exhibited by Meredith Shiner at Yahoo Politics in March is not isolated to her.

Readers may recall that Shiner, reacting to Ted Cruz's presidential announcement speech, tweeted: "Bizarre to talk about how rights are God-made and not man-made in your speech announcing a POTUS bid? When Constitution was man-made?" In covering Rick Perry's presidential announcement, Weissert showed similar ignorance.

As with Shiner, who graduated from Duke with a degree in journalism and over five years of experience covering Washington politics, it seems incomprehensible that an experienced journalist covering politics can possibly be this ignorant. In Weissert's case, he graduated from the University of Michigan, has been a journalist for 16 years, "has covered Texas politics since 2011," and was recently named head of AP's Austin bureau.

So we're left wondering how someone with such an extensive background and experience could possibly assume, as Weissert obviously did, that asserting God-given rights is nothing but a bone to throw at the Tea Party, as seen in this sentence:

In a nod to the tea party, he said: "Our rights come from God, not from government."

As a public service to Weissert, Shiner (who has expressed no regret over or apologized for her ignorance), and every other journalistic unaware of America's founding documents, I'm posting a video of Rick Santorum's February 2012 presidential campaign appearance in Brown County, Ohio. This is particularly relevant to Shiner, who submitted a predictably pedestrian evaluation of Santorum's 2016 presidential prospects just before his official announcement last week.

Santorum, at the 42:55 mark, explained why recognizing the interdependence of the nation's two key founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is so important, and why de-linking them is so dangerous (HT to Weapons of Mass Discussion; bolds are mine; audio is a bit low, so headphones may be needed):

Partial transcript of the relevant segment:

... An increasing number of those on the progressive left ... would like to dispense with the Declaration (of Independence). They would like to move it off the stage, into the shadows, so they can just have this Constitution alone — a "living, breathing" Constitution. ...

You see, a Constitution can "live and breathe" and change if it is not anchored to something eternal. That’s what the Declaration is, in the words that you all know ... “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That is the heart of America.

... The French Revolution had a constitution not dissimilar to the American Constitution. But the French Revolution was not based on God-given rights. It was based on three things. Equality – good. Liberty – good. Fraternity – problematic. Where did we get our rights from? Paternity – God. ... Where did their rights derive? From each other, from whoever has the levers of power.

This is what the Supreme Court is moving towards. This is why (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg doesn’t like our Constitution, much less our Declaration. Because she, they, want to create the rights and responsibilities. If we cut loose from the Declaration, cut loose from God-given rights, cut loose from the moral enterprise that is America, then we leave a very cold dangerous, and frightening America to our children.

In case Shiner and Weissert also missed another important element of world history, the French Revolution descended into murder by guillotine and the Reign of Terror within three years of the storming of the Bastille and its Legislative Assembly.

What Santorum said three years ago was not "bizarre" or a "nod to the tea party." Neither were Ted Cruz's and Rick Perry's assertions this year that recognizing that all of a nation's citizens have God-given rights that cannot morally be taken away by "whoever has the levers of power."

Journalists who don't understand that, as Shiner and Weissert clearly don't, have no business being in their current profession. As blogger extraordinaire Bob Owens tweeted to Shiner in March: "It's not a small matter that you are a politics reporter without a grasp of how/why our system of gov't was created."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.