Meet the Moots

The meaning of institutions, like words, changes over time.

Take Congress. The Constitution hands legislative power to the two houses of Congress. With the growth of government Congress has delegated more and more of its powers to the executive branch.

In a recent column, George F. Will identified the most recent “development” of this trend. Will’s example is the automaker bailout. Congress did not authorize it: The package failed in the Senate. But President Bush simply took money from another bailout bill and dumped it at the failing automobile manufacturers.

Even if you think the bailout is good policy, the president should be censured. “With the automakers,” Will writes, “executive branch overreaching now extends to the essence of domestic policy — spending. . . .

George Will’s Washington Post column is titled “Making Congress Moot.” Droll, that. “Moot” is an ancient term for a deliberative body. Philologist and fantasist J.R.R. Tolkien used it to designate his congress of “treeherders.” Remember “entmoot”?

The phrase “moot point” used to mean “open to debate.” It now usually means “an issue raised whose determination cannot have any practical effect.”

Congress has gone from an august, important deliberative body — a moot — to a mere debating society. As the meaning of the word “moot” has decayed, so too has Congress.

Think of 535 moot points.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jan
    2
    12:36
    PM
    Mary Bodily

    I may not be the most fluent person on the block but I have my
    concerns about our government and its leaders. The progression of “moot” is interesting. I feel we as the general public need to
    contact our legislators and get them out of their “fear of the public opinion” and do something on this issue.

  2. Jan
    11
    3:56
    PM
    Marcia

    I have been writing to my congress men to to do the right thing and stand up to threats. We of your state will help you. They all folded. So now I going to start a campaign to vote them out of office and get people in there that represent the people of the USA not just one state. We now have to work as one unit to defy anyone that tries to threaten us and our freedomes This moot Point is one expample of the Majority in the Congress shutting up the minarity.

  3. Jan
    11
    5:10
    PM
    Glenn Rene' Zeringue Jr.

    just talking about it will get me in trouble but!; there is a way to scare a government. open discussion of it before it becomes a jailable offence could be usefull. sucession is the ultimate trump card.

  4. Feb
    16
    9:34
    AM
    Silicondoc

    If the president violated the Congress’ bill wording/ handover of power, he shouldn’t just be censured, he should be impeached and removed.
    However, I’m certain the answer lies in the ever more cowering and covering up pass the responsibility along to blame on someone else Congress, who no doubt colluded in private with the executive branch on the auto bailout.
    The general public has been fed by a lying press, and further brainwashed by a seemingly endless number of babbling fool commenters, into the idea that the potus runs the nation.
    Yes, it was a smarmy, smart aleck attack against Bush, but the reality is Congress just loves it when the entire public buys it lock, stock, and bushel full.
    The truth you already pointed out, Paul.
    ..” Congress has delegated more and more of its powers to the executive branch. ”
    Well, those with the power that giveth, also remain with the power to taketh away.
    It is STILL the Congress’ duty to make sure that whichever Officer of any Department of the Federal Government they delegate implementation of their power to, that the law and their concurrent representative wishes it details be carried out. It is also Congress’ duty to CHANGE their delegation of authority given any problems.
    The final burden falls on Congress, and they, and the news, and the babbling, quacking near endless number of fools, have all but forgotten that.
    It is thus, how we wind up with “Bush’ war” – and I voted against it after I voted for it, or now I speak against what I voted for, I sure hope you don’t remember…and even if I did, I was decieved, by the demon – Bush…
    Since so many IDIOTS but that, we are where we are, and we of course are only going deeper into it.
    It’s much easier for the quacking loons to blame a one person target – lunatics that they are.

  5. Mar
    21
    12:13
    AM
    Marcia

    I email my congressmen every day with a different topic and get no response from them. I call them every day and cannot get them on the line so I leave a message and they do not call back. I cann and write letters every day to them and nothing. They are not getting my vote this year or next. I want them out of office

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