April 3 2012
Conservatives should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the questions asked during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments over the Affordable Care Act. But we can savor the shock and horror spreading through the ranks of the bill’s supporters, can’t we?
Let’s start of the immortal words of the famously filter-less former Speaker Nancy Pelosi when asked if the Congress had the constitutional authority to change our government and the way we live our lives in one fell swoop known as the individual mandate. She replied with a taunting "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
But last week it began to dawn deliciously on Pelosi & Co. and their associates in the mainstream media that we were indeed serious and that their pet law might be in jeopardy. Aghast constitutional scholar Chris Matthews admitted he had never before dreamed of a scenario that featured “[President Obama’s] major achievement just ripped off the books.”
The Boston Globe cited a survey of Supreme Court lawyers and former clerks taken before the debate began that gave only a 35 percent probability that the mandate forcing people to buy a product (health insurance) would be struck down. “The provocative view in Washington when oral arguments began on Monday was that the vote to uphold could be lopsided,” the newspaper noted. By Tuesday afternoon, however, this view had been supplanted by gloom.
When CNN’s senior legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin—described by Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan as appearing “increasingly depressed”—emerged from the courtroom to say, “This still looks like a train wreck for the Obama administration and it may also be a plane wreck. This entire law is now in serious trouble," the Newsroom anchor back in the studio gasped, “Oh, my goodness.”
Unable to accept that it’s the arguments, Stupid, the left is piling on unfortunate Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. who had the unenviable task of arguing the government’s case. Not a good career move.
“Sounding less like a world-class lawyer and more like a teenager giving an oral presentation for the first time, Verrilli delivered a rambling, apprehensive legal defense of liberalism’s biggest domestic accomplishment since the 1960s—and one that may well have doubled as its eulogy,” Mother Jones, the leftwing magazine, wrote.
In what must be a low point in Mr. Verrilli’s career, the White House felt it necessary to issue a pathetic statement of support Wednesday, describing the Solicitor General as “an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment, and unquestionable integrity.” As we used to say in high school, “She’s really sweet, and she makes her own clothes.”
As the week progressed, Obamacare supporters moved from surprise and despair to developing a new meme. Nowhere was the new meme more revealingly or cynically expounded than in a column in the Washington Post by former Hillary Clinton adviser, Mark Penn, headlined “Could Defeat for Obamacare Mean Victory for Obama?”
“In the face of a Supreme Court ruling against the law, a defiant president may seek to make an even more strident case for his vision for health care in America,” Penn wrote. “Already, the talking points for a war on the high court are being put in place by organizations such as the Center for American Progress.” According to Penn, the “story line is simple” and it is that “the Supreme Court puts politics above the people in the name of the Constitution.”
Although Penn says that this argument “could play among an electorate predisposed to suspect the worst,” he ultimately rejects this as the way to go. Not because it is cynical and would tear the country apart. But merely because this tactic only gets the president his base, which he already has. Something tells me, however, that this talking point is not dead.
Despite the responses being developed in the media and places like the Center for American Progress, supporters of this law have to know that the Supreme Court’s overturning of Obamacare would be bad for the president. Or maybe not.
Regardless of the political implications, Americans have reason to be heartened by the events of this week. Perhaps only those of us inside-the-beltway types take guilty pleasure in the site of crestfallen liberal elites, but all Americans should appreciate that we have a Supreme Court that still takes the Constitution seriously.