by CHARLES M. BLOW
The Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that largely found President Obama’s signature health care law to be constitutional left them floundering and fuming.
The conservative chief justice, John Roberts Jr., joined the liberal wing of the court in doing so, much to the ire of Republicans.
According to Politico, “Indiana congressman and gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence likened the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Democratic health care law to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,” during a closed-door House G.O.P. meeting. He later apologized.
Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky and the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, issued a statement that seemed to suggest that the court doesn’t even have the authority to make the ruling. It read in part: “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.”
And what of the Judas chief justice? All hell rained down.
On his online show, Glenn Beck (remember him?) called Roberts a coward and is selling a T-shirt to that effect.
Beck’s own Web site explained, “Glenn also had radio co-host Pat Gray dress up as The Dread Pirate Roberts (a reference to Andre the Giant’s infamous scene in the classic film ‘The Princess Bride’).” That’s a quote. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
The right-wing radio personality Michael Savage suggested that Roberts ruled the way that he did because of epilepsy medication: “Neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts’s writings, you can see the cognitive dissociation in what he is saying.”
Roberts joked on Friday that he would be spending some time on an “impregnable island fortress” now that this court session is over. Good call.
Republicans are so upset because one of the basic pillars of the “Obama illegitimacy” canard is that he is operating outside the parameters of the constitution, that he is the point of the shiv aimed at the heart of America.
As the conservative radio host Neal Boortz put it in a Twitter message following the ruling: “I am so sick to death of calling the play-by-play of the destruction of this great country by power-hungry Democrats and the moocher class.”
This ruling has supposedly energized the Republican base. Maybe, but it’s been supporting the repeal of the health care act since it was passed. What’s new? Republicans say that the court called the mandate a tax although Obama had insisted that it wasn’t. True, but I’m not sure that has legs outside the Grover Norquist-no-tax echo chamber.
They sound like a broken record on this one: broken promises and big government; more taxes and less freedom.
But there is one part of their rationale and rallying call that I simply can’t let stand: the idea that most Americans — or at least significantly more Americans than not — wanted the health care law overturned because they felt that it went too far and was too intrusive.
A lie is like a cat: you need to stop it before it gets out the door or it’s really hard to catch.
This cat is already out, but let’s try to round him up, shall we?
A New York Times/CBS News poll released early this month found that 41 percent of Americans thought that the entire law should have been overturned, while 27 percent thought only the mandate should have been overturned and 24 percent thought the whole law should have been kept intact.
If you just took the numbers at face value, they would seem to support the Republican position. But let’s not. The same poll found that 37 percent of Americans believed the law went too far, while 27 percent said not far enough and 25 percent said about right.
When you cross-reference the numbers, just over two-thirds of the people who wanted the law struck down thought it went too far. That’s only 27 percent of those polled. Suddenly, the claim that a majority of the public wanted the court to strike it down for overreaching evaporates.
Slightly more than a quarter of those who thought the court should strike it down thought it was about right or wanted the government to go even further. Ever heard of single-payer?
Make no mistake, Thursday’s ruling is an unmitigated win for the Obama administration and for America. The “too much government” crowd is just grasping at straws.
Charles M. Blow is a New York Times Columnist and nationally-known commentator: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at [email protected]”