That’s the question James Taranto is asking in his latest Best of the Web Today column at the Wall Street Journal:
“This is President Obama’s Mission Accomplished moment,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas tells Time.com. “Jimmy Fallon Mocks ObamaCare’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ Charade,” according to a Breitbart.com headline. While the host of “The Tonight Show” didn’t say “mission accomplished” in last night’s monologue, he was scathingly sarcastic about the White House’s declaration of victory. On Monday Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin observed: “It is entirely possible that we will look back on today’s deadline and administration celebrations about enrollment as Obama’s version of George W. Bush’s infamous ‘mission accomplished’ moment after Iraq.”
Much as this columnist enjoys blaming things on George W. Bush, we feel obliged to note that he did not say “mission accomplished” during that May 1, 2003, speech. Quite the opposite. He asserted, referring to the broader war on terror: “Our mission continues.” The mission to which the infamous banner referred was the deployment from which the USS Abraham Lincoln, aboard which the then-president delivered the speech, had just returned.
But Bush did open his speech with what turned out to be a premature declaration of victory: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” Obama’s speech yesterday included a similar assertion of triumph, albeit against the president’s adversaries, not the country’s: “The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
More than a few Obama critics have taken offense at his declaration that “the debate . . . is over.” To them he sounded like a dictator commanding his subjects to cease dissent. But Obama is not a dictator, and few of his critics are likely to heed his implicit demand. What’s more, it’s difficult to imagine the likes of Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor successfully deploying the debate-is-over gambit in their re-election campaigns. Our guess is that the debate over whether the debate over ObamaCare is over will be over on Nov. 5.
As Ann Coulter wrote in October, “The most hilarious part of the ‘settled law’ argument is that it’s coming from the left, for whom nothing is ever ‘settled’ until they get their way,” along with numerous examples of the left never accepting any law they despise as “settled.”