Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Me the People' is an entertaining, informative look at the Constitution and the Founding Fathers

Review:Me the People: 
One Man’ Selfless Quest
to Rewrite the Constitution 
of the United States of America’
By Kevin Bleyer
(Random House)

Cover image from Random House

      If, as the proverb goes, “Many a true word is spoken in jest,” then there’s a lot of truth (or at least “truthiness”) in humorist Kevin Bleyer’s Me the People: One Man’s Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States. Not so much in his rewritten Constitution as in his examination of the history of how the Constitution was originally written. Beneath the jokes and exaggerations, there is real history of how what is often now touted as a masterpiece of the Founding Father’s brilliance is actually an imperfect, lazy compromise written by a lot of people who wanted to get out of a hot, poorly ventilated room and get back to their homes, businesses and taverns.
     James Madison, for instance, who is called the father of the Constitution, was profoundly unhappy with the final document. And Thomas Jefferson thought it would and should be rewritten every few years.
     Bleyer, a former writer for Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, gets a little too silly at times -- with a few too many references to the film National Treasure, in which Nicolas Cage steals the Declaration of Independence, and to Bleyer’s own supposed plans to steal (or buy) the Constitution – but he also goes over the history of the Articles of Confederation and each article of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (though he only covers a few of the other amendments in detail). Supposedly he even interviews Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who tells him the Constitution is dead, and that’s a good thing. Whether it’s a real interview by Bleyer or cribbed from another interview, it effectively presents and explains Scalia’s case for controversial rulings such as upholding a state’s anti-sodomy law.
     Me the People made me think and laugh. Recommended.


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