Maybe the guys at the National Institutes of Health were remembering their early teen years, when washing their genitals was stimulating. For whatever reason, they spent over $800,000 in stimulus money on a research project intended to teach uncircumcised African men to wash their genitals.

Perhaps no issue today better showcases our political process’s extent of disrepair than this. It’s all there: a naked boondoggle, a nearly indefensible waste of tax dollars and the approval of both houses of Congress along with the signature of the president.

I can’t remember the part in high school history where we learned about the intense debate among the Constitutional Convention delegates regarding penis washing. I’m pretty confident something like that would have caught my attention.

There was a time when questions of constitutionality were serious concerns. Not in our lifetimes, granted, but once upon a time.

These days, most constitutionality questions quickly turn into bouts of anxious hand-wringing with the moaned mantra, “Oh, if only we had a way of knowing what the intent of the Founders would have been had they foreseen this issue!”

On this particular question, there’s no anxiety required. No, James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” did not explicitly address the cleanliness of African penises, but he did say in 1794, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
However, Madison was a freaking caveman.

He had no way of knowing there was going to come a time in the world’s history when some genitals would need washing. They didn’t have needs like that back in the horse-and-buggy days.

Time was, you washed it once for your wedding night and called it good enough.

What he did foresee was that there would be stuff he didn’t foresee (like dirty penises, perhaps, but more genteel) and the Constitution has provisions for its own amending.
If we need to spend money on benevolence, change the Constitution to allow for it.

It wouldn’t have to be thousands of pages long like all the sophisticated modern-day laws our rocket-powered age requires. It could be just eight words: “Congress shall spend money on whatever it wants.”

But this idea of having rules that mean something isn’t even taken seriously these days. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked where in the Constitution Congress received its supposed authority to enact its health care bill, all she could bother to say in response was, “Are you serious?” In her magnanimity, however, she said it twice.

Madison thought it was a serious question, but Pelosi thinks it is the setup to announcing she’s being punked.

As a reminder, this woman is third in line to the presidency.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if you can guess how much government money it took to teach me to wash my penis? In these days of official largess, you might need me to define a range, so here’s a hint: less than half a million dollars.

How patronizing is it to assume Africans can’t learn to clean their penises without an American professor teaching them? The entire concept rests on an updated version of the White Man’s Burden which is based on the same tacit racism.

If I asked these questions to Speaker Pelosi, I suspect she would want to know if I was serious. I wonder if she asked that question when she read the penis-washing provision in the 1,588-page stimulus bill. Now who’s not being serious?