Did G. W. Bush ever say about the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'?

A fine article in the Times Magazine ("How Christian Were the Founders?" by Russell Shorto) reviews the struggle in Texas by members of the school board and their backers to inject their brand of Protestant Christian beliefs and values into the public school curriculum of that state.

It's obvious that this activity primarily benefits the majority religion in the country and the larger religious groups with more members and influence to begin with. It's less helpful to Jews and other small religious minorities.

The struggle harks back frequently to "clarify" the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and to other utterances of the founding fathers as a sort of proof of the essential nature of our nation. That's quite a Protestant attitude, instead of waving the bible to support their preaching, they wave another document and claim they providentially know how it supports their agenda.

It's ironic then for us to recall how one major conservative politician allegedly treated that same document when it was held up to him as a reason to curtail some of his intended actions.

When Bush was pushing renewal of the Patriot Act, according to numerous reports he laid out his strategy. Simply put, he was going to continue to ignore the constitution. His brilliant analysis summed up his approach to this complex area of law.
"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

I've talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution "a goddamned piece of paper."
Our original reference for this event was, Capitol Hill Blue: Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'. But now when we go to that link we are informed the report was an error,
The article that previously appeared under this URL has been removed from our database because a followup investigation revealed the sources quoted in the article did not, as they claimed, attend a White House meeting between President George W. Bush where we reported he called the Constitution a "god damned pieced of paper."

Although we believe President Bush has a history of flagrant disregard for the protections and liberties outlined in the Constitution, we cannot confirm that he made the statement and retract the article.

Our apologies to our readers...
So the question is, did he or didn't he? It seems plausible that he did, it sounds like Bush. But even if he did not say it, he is correct. The Constitution is lifeless unless you accept its governing role in a political and cultural context. Our legal system demands that we do. Still, a person acting as a rogue politician who circumvents the conventions of civilization would want to discredit the authority of any person or object who stands against him.

Accordingly, although the sentiments surely reflect his actions, there is no unimpeachable record of Bush saying those precise words about the Constitution.
[Revised and expanded from our original repost of 12/14/05.]

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