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Craze to amend the Constitution goes a bit too far

Published Oct. 4, 2005

Well, it looks like Congress is going to stop this flag desecration that's been going on. Going on somewhere. Not sure where anymore.

Went on all the time everywhere, though, back in Vietnam War days. At least everywhere a television camera caught an anti-war demonstrator in its view finder.

Congress is going to fix that.

Next time there's a Vietnam War there's going to be none of that burning the flag, none of that sewing the flag on the seat of your pants and sitting on it.

Congress is going to amend the Constitution to stop it. That's right: the Constitution Itself. The Big Parchment. Going to amend it.

Now, now, none of that talk about Congress being on a Constitution-amending toot. Congress doesn't go on toots. Just because it's spent half the year trying to amend this noble document _ noblest of all documents _ you can't call that an amending toot.

Is it a toot when Congress comes out for the flag? Congress standing up and voting for the flag, is that a toot?

A Congress has the courage to sit there in Washington _ inside the Beltway, mind you _ the Beltway! _ has the guts to sit there inside that Beltway and tell America it loves the flag _ is that your idea of a toot?

When the House of Representatives _ Democrats and Republicans by the dozen _ voted against flag abuse by amending the Constitution that was no toot. Just plain old courage.

Now it's up to the Senate to stand and be counted. The famous old veteran Capitol observers are saying it looks like the Senate probably will muster up the courage to move the amendment right along to the states.

So flag burners can feel the iron hand of the law next time they decorate the seat of their pants with Old Glory.

Sure, a lot of congressmen and senators probably will be voted out of office next election for showing the courage to stand up to those who would say "To hell with the flag!"

And what is it that makes them willing to risk their careers? What gives them such courage?

It's as simple as this:

Congress loves the flag. Loves mother too, of course.

And loves home. At least the American home. Provided it is a two-parent home.

And neither parent is an immigrant.

Or on welfare.

There's a good chance, if the flag amendment flies all the way through, that Congress will be encouraged to push for a home-and-mother amendment to the Constitution. The idea already has a lot of supporters willing to stand up and be counted against the home-and-mother hate bloc.

These brave solons and solonesses haven't yet decided though whether to fight for one home-and-mother amendment that would make it a crime to desecrate home and mother.

There's some fear that lumping home and mother in one amendment might bring the home haters and the mother haters into a coalition that would make it impossible to pass the amendment.

Some think it would be politically smarter to go for separate amendments. One dealing with home desecration, the other with mother desecration.

The big question of course is, Is it fair to ask congressmen to risk political ruin by coming out for the flag, then ask them to go back once more into that deadly breach by coming out for home and mother?

The word from those famous old veteran Capitol observers is that it would take more guts than anybody has a right to expect of a congressman with an election year just around the corner.

Most likely, they're saying at the Capitol, Congress will exhaust most of its courage this year in the struggle to save the flag.

If these brave men and brave women survive the fury of the voters next year, they may just possibly have enough fight left to stand up for a home amendment in the following Congress. Most think the mother amendment will never make it, though.

Too many mothers nowadays belong to the single-mother variety. For Congress, that's pushing motherhood beyond the limit.

New York Times News Service