The Grouchy Historian
An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs
By Ed Asner and Ed. Weinberger
Read by: Ed Asner, with John Amos
Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
Release date: 10-10-17
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
In the tradition of Al Franken and Michael Moore, Ed Asner—a.k.a. Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore Show—reclaims the Constitution from the right-wingers who think that they and only they know how to interpret it.
Ed Asner, a self-proclaimed dauntless Democrat from the old days, figured that if the right-wing wackos are wrong about voter fraud, Obama’s death panels, and climate change, they are probably just as wrong about what the Constitution says. There’s no way that two hundred-plus years later, the right-wing ideologues know how to interpret the Constitution. On their way home from Philadelphia the people who wrote it couldn’t agree on what it meant. What was the president’s job? Who knew? All they knew was that the president was going to be George Washington and as long as he was in charge, that was good enough. When Hamilton wanted to start a national bank, Madison told him that it was unconstitutional. Both men had been in the room when the Constitution was written. And now today there are politicians and judges who claim that they know the original meaning of the Constitution. Are you kidding?
In The Grouchy Historian, Ed Asner leads the charge for liberals to reclaim the Constitution from the right-wingers who use it as their justification for doing whatever terrible thing they want to do, which is usually to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. It’s about time someone gave them hell and explained that progressives can read, too. http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Grouchy-Historian/Ed-Asner/9781508249290
My first thought on hearing about this book was, “Ed Asner and The Constitution! Really??!”
After listening to it thought my thoughts are more, “Ed Asner and The Constitution, really!” If that doesn’t come across in grammar, let me explain that I am enthusiastic about this look into the points oft made by members of the Republican party and religious right.
In particular, he looks at the arguments the religious right use to support the idea that the US is a nation with a Christian base. Asner uses simple information, for this in particular, letters to and from the founders and framers, and historical sources. I think he spends a lot of time on this threat to the Constitution, but other ideas are also examined.
In looking at the Supreme Court and Bill of Rights he delves in to court cases rather deeply. I learned the Supreme Court made opposing decisions on cases with [what appears to have been] the same basis – some even the same day. And how even the “strict constructionists” depend on norms and cultural traditions, as well as laws.
He shows us the founders and framers were human, more than not the deified scholars we’ve been taught they are. They did their best but even they recognized the document as imperfect. So, undeified and imperfect were they that many of them made a ton of moola by taking advantage of information about how debts would be repaid.
Chock full of facts, and rants, the book required that I listen to some things several times. Asner mostly stays on course, but twice he goes into fictional journals or letters. One case, the diary of James Madison’s personal slave, is read by John Amos and is quite long, with more information about daily life ad Madison’s illnesses. Amos does a lovely job — I think I have been missing his lovely voice, lo, these many years. Asner’s voice is familiar from TV and movies; it’s a little older, gruffer and a bit slurred, but exactly what I expected.
With this book Asner neatly dismantles the arguments employed by the right to use the Constitution as a hammer to get their agenda through. It was filled with Ah-Hah moments. I know he isn’t a historian and once in a while the argument he makes can be a little sophomoric, but all in all I thought it was a great way of getting the ideals he and I share across to the people who do not share the same. I enjoyed it and recommend it! Heck, I would even buy it!
AUTHOR’S TWITTER: https://twitter.com/theonlyedasner