Come Wednesday November 7 this year, I’m going to be in one of two places — hunkered down in a five-star DC hotel, with a quart of Jack, a room-service menu, and the Fox News channel, or in Montreal. DC if Obama nails it, French Canada if that sucker goes down. Watching the right-wing mediasphere after victory ’08, I count as among the best three days of my life. If Barry gets re-elected, the insanity will be off-the-meter.
We’re getting a taste of it following the Supreme Court healthcare decision, which has stunned the US Right and sent them into paroxysms of justification, excuse and cognitive dissonance. Having become steadily more confident that the court would strike down the healthcare plan, they started to big up the court’s prudential role in preserving the constitutional system of government. Here’s Glenn Reynolds in the New York Post, Murdoch’s loss-making NY rag:
“For the past couple of months, Democrats and their pundit allies — apparently expecting to lose on ObamaCare in the Supreme Court — have been engaged in a campaign to delegitimise the High Court in the eyes of the public. In a related development, Taliban spokesmen threaten to end polio vaccinations in areas they control unless the United States stops drone strikes.
How are the actions related? They’re self-destructive and futile — borne more of frustration than of any deep thinking.”
Yes, the Democrats are the Taliban. That passes for centre-right thinking in the US these days.
When the decision came through, and it was clear that the (Chief Justice John) Roberts court had delivered a clearly argued rationale to uphold the law that spun around pretty quickly. Here’s National Review from last week:
“Supreme Court watchers are coalescing around the conclusion that the Court will strike down at least part of Obamacare. In response, the Left has started to preview its attacks on the Supreme Court … This argument takes many forms, but usually [cites] judicial activism as what happens when the Supreme Court strikes down legislation … [But] The Supreme Court has a duty to enforce the Constitution’s limitations through exercising judicial review. Here, that means striking down Obamacare, cries of judicial activism notwithstanding.”
Here’s National Review after the judgement, somewhat less deferential to the Supreme Court of the United States:
“The dissent acknowledges that if an ambiguous law can be read in a way that renders it constitutional, it should be. It distinguishes, though, between construing a law charitably and rewriting it. The latter is what Chief Justice John Roberts has done. If Roberts believes that this tactic avoids damage to the Constitution because it does not stretch the Commerce Clause to justify a mandate, he is mistaken. The Constitution does not give the Court the power to rewrite statutes, and Roberts and his colleagues have therefore done violence to it. If the law has been rendered less constitutionally obnoxious, the Court has rendered itself more so. Chief Justice Roberts cannot justly take pride in this legacy.”
Since the court didn’t of course, literally rewrite the law, the accusation is simply one of … judicial activism.
That was the rational reaction. Further Right, it quickly went crazy, with activist group Conservative HQ calling it a new “Dred Scott” (Dred Scott was the notoriously bad 1850s ruling that said that slaves had no constitutional rights. The ruling involved explicit collusion between the court and President Buchanan — earning him worst President evah title in most polls — and made the Civil War inevitable).
Current editor of deadshit right-wing site Breitbart.com Ben Shapiro also went with Dred Scott, and further:
“This is the greatest destruction of individual liberty since Dred Scott. This is the end of America as we know it. No exaggeration.”
Indiana GOP candidate for governor Mike Pence compared it to the September 11 attacks, only to later apologise when he realised his closed-door remarks had become public. Senator Rand Paul, son of Ron, was so eager to defend the Constitution, that he unilaterally removed the Supreme Court from equal government, guaranteed it by … the Constitution (OK, and Marbury vs Madison):
“‘Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional,’ the freshman lawmaker said in a statement. ‘While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right.
“‘Obamacare is wrong for Americans. It will destroy our health care system,’ added Paul, who frequently rails about government overreach on the Senate floor. ‘This now means we fight every hour, every day until November to elect a new President and a new Senate to repeal Obamacare.'”
In the further reaches of the Right, it was of course obvious that there had been foul play. Here’s conservative blog ToBeRIGHT:
“How could John Roberts side with the liberals? The individual mandate is so clearly unconstitutional — even to a layperson — how could it be?
“Kind of like a Vince Flynn book. Someone got to Roberts. I bet they got to him and told him he has to vote this way or members of his family — kids, wife, parents, whoever — were going to be killed.
“Later this afternoon, it’s going to come out that Roberts was coerced. A Secret Service agent overheard Obama and Axelrod discussing the Roberts blackmail. He managed to get them on tape discussing it. Later this afternoon, the whole story will come out, Roberts will issue his REAL opinion, and Obama and Axelrod will be taken away in handcuffs.”
Having done their grieving, the Right got down to spinning. This had been predicted of course — by the Right, who said that the Left would spin a Supreme Court loss.
“The day before the Supreme Court’s decision on ObamaCare, CNN is already giving credibility to the Democrats’ spin if they lose the case — conservative judicial activism.”
Yeah, uh not so much. Instead we got the Right’s spin. In one day National Review had the following stories: A Hollow Victory for Obamacare, Victory in Defeat, The Umpire Blinks and The Consolation prize.
All this in one day! Yeah, take your consolation prize, losers. The decision has been a double-defeat for the US Right — the centrepiece of the Obama administration upheld, and the myth of an unconstitutional president buried by a Bush appointee-led Supreme Court. They are spinning indeed, but from a blow to the side of the head.
Bring it on perforce in November. And if not, je n’aurai aucun idee, je me trouverai en Quebec. “Oh Canada … terre de nos aieux …”