Talk:Jack N. Rakove

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Untitled[edit]

It may well be that Rakove was Chelsea Clinton's nurse maid or spiritual advisor or whatever. But I find no support for the claim and I do not see the relevance of it in any case. I see NO competent review of "Orginal Meanings" that would say that the book or the author casts doubt on "originalism" as that term is currently defined in wikipedia. I can find no support for the claim that Rakove's sister is a "well-known governmental relations expert in the Chicago and national healthcare system" even if THAT were relevant, which it is not. What I find is many citations that say that Roberta Rakove is senior vice president of development at Sinai Health System in Chicago and is an advocate for non profit community hospitals.--The Trucker (talk) 20:08, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Originalism[edit]

The following is an excerpt from "An Interview with Jack Rakove, 1997 Pulitzer Prize winning author of Original Meanings":

The current debate about the role of original intent in Constitutional interpretation gave me, conceptually, a powerful vehicle, an important set of questions that I think most historians would not have thought to use. They look at the lawyers' debate and they think it's really about contemporary controversies and its all very political and it's not really the kind of thing we do. Some of us might choose to do it though it's not really a good historian's question but I thought maybe it was. I thought the legal and political figures who talk about this had raised an interesting problem, which is, if you want to talk about what did the Constitution originally mean, how would you do it? One can't just open up a text and say well Madison says this on Federalist 42 about Indian relations so, of course, that's what the Commerce Clause of Article I section 8 meant when it related to Indian Affairs. That's a kind of artificial historical question because it says, what does something mean in one particular m oment? It seems artificial to me, because historians think that history never really stops, it's a continuous process. But I thought the lawyers were on to something interesting and historians had a responsibility to try to answer that question in the best way we can.

In Original Meanings, I set out to come up with a model, an analytical framework, for making sense of that debate and for advancing it. Advancing it doesn't mean I support originalism, it means I thought I could raise the debate to a higher level of intelligence if I explained why "What did the Constitution originally mean?" is such a complicated enterprise to talk about. Those are the two advantages, the deep seriousness of the subject and that the contemporary controversy gave me a novel and powerful framework to talk about an old set of questions that many of us have taken for granted as being essentially settled. I asked old-fashioned questions. I've always said I wanted my epitaph to read: "He tried to make the old history respectable again." I made it my ambition all along to give a new perspective to the subject and I hope I succeeded.

--The Trucker (talk) 03:32, 21 May 2009 (UTC)