On Beck, Jonah Goldberg said of President Obama's inauguration speech: "I salute Barack Obama for invoking the Founding Fathers. At the minimum, it is good that the Democratic Party wants to start revering the Founders." Contrary to Goldberg's suggestion that Obama's invocation of the Founders was a first for a Democratic president, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter both "invok[ed]" the Founders during their inaugural addresses.
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During the January 20 edition of Fox News' Beck, National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg said of President Obama's inauguration speech: "I salute Barack Obama for invoking the Founding Fathers. At the minimum, it is good that the Democratic Party wants to start revering the Founders." Contrary to Goldberg's suggestion, Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter both specifically "invok[ed]" the Founders during their inaugural addresses.
Former President Bill Clinton "invok[ed]" the Founders in both of his inaugural addresses. In his January 20, 1993, speech, Clinton said, "When our founders boldly declared America's independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change. Not change for change's sake, but change to preserve America's ideals -- life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness." Clinton also referenced Thomas Jefferson: "Thomas Jefferson believed that to preserve the very foundations of our nation, we would need dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow citizens, this is our time. Let us embrace it."
During his January 20, 1997, inaugural address, Clinton stated: "We -- the American people -- we are the solution. Our founders understood that well and gave us a democracy strong enough to endure for centuries." Clinton also stated: "Our founders taught us that the preservation of our liberty and our union depends upon responsible citizenship."
Additionally, Carter "invok[ed]" the Founders during his inaugural address. In his January 20, 1977, speech, Carter said, "Two centuries ago our Nation's birth was a milestone in the long quest for freedom, but the bold and brilliant dream which excited the founders of this Nation still awaits its consummation. I have no new dream to set forth today, but rather urge a fresh faith in the old dream."
From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Beck:
BECK: Can I push this one minute just a bit? Because I'd like to play a little bit from -- this is from Obama's inaugural speech today, where he talked about the founding of our country and how we always survive. Listen to this from the inaugural speech today.
OBAMA [video clip]: In these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding document.
BECK: OK, stop. First of all, all three of us laughed when he said "because of, you know, the intelligence of the people in the office." It's in spite of those people in Washington, usually. But then he goes on to say that "we stayed true to our founding documents." Can you give me something from -- give me James Madison.
Here's a quote from James Madison -- we don't have him on tape, just -- here it is, "The government of the United States is a definite government confined" -- sorry, I don't have my glasses -- "confined to the specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."
Give me Thomas Jefferson. Here's Thomas Jefferson's line. Do we have it? We don't have it. OK. Well, I guess -- Thomas Jefferson was basically saying -- here it is. Go ahead. Jefferson quote, "A wise and frugal government shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuit of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." That is a million miles away from where we are now and what we heard from this new president.
DAVID PIETRUSZA (historian): And the founding documents was the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which says all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved to the people and to the states. And we have gone against that for probably since the last 100 years almost, since the progressive era.
GOLDBERG: Yes, to understand the progressive era, you know, the founding fathers, the founding documents -- and I salute Barack Obama for invoking the Founding Fathers. At the minimum, it is good that the Democratic Party wants to start revering the Founders. That opens the door to explaining --
GOLDBERG: -- explaining to them what the founders actually believed. But the Founders had a vision of government. Government is the people, you know; the people form the government. The progressives bring in from German state theory the state -- der Staat. And the state has a Hegelian concept, much broader, and basically runs the entire society, suffuses itself into nook and cranny of society. It's responsible for the entire organic nation, drives everything. That concept comes from the progressives, and that is what we are living with today.