Madison’s gift…

James Madison is often thought of as the Father of the U.S. Constitution. This father business overstates it a bit, so let’s use him instead as a synecdoche and thank him for the Bill of Rights and our system of checks and balances. It is this very system that makes Howard Kurtz’ column this morning a lot less scary that it would otherwise be. Kurtz says:

If you put the First Amendment up for a nationwide vote, we’re not so sure it would pass.

The press isn’t real popular these days, with journalists often viewed as arrogant and rude, and as heartless as the killer sharks they sometimes hype during slow summer weeks.

And when war breaks out, many folks believe that the people with pens and microphones should just get out of the way and let the soldiers do their jobs.

The checks and balances keep in check more than government power. They keep in check the temporary, popular passions of the people–something that frightened our Founding Fathers.