Juan Williams’ latest column reads like a weak attempt to troll the country.
Every political strategist working the fall elections sees a game changer coming by the end of the month.
That’s when the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act.
The signature legislative accomplishment that he isn’t running on and doesn’t want to talk about.
The Democrats have a nuclear option in this political game if the high court throws out the healthcare law as unconstitutional.
That blowup-the-system button, not pushed since FDR’s attempt to stack the court with Democrats during the New Deal, is for Obama to use the bully pulpit of the White House, and the national stage of a presidential campaign, to launch a bitter attack on the current court as a corrupt tool of the Republican right wing.
That’s a “nuclear option?” Democrats have been popping that firecracker at the court since Citizens United, with Obama himself using a State of the Union address to join in while the justices were sitting right in front of him. It hasn’t changed the debate over that decision. It’s hard to see how yelling about any ObamaCare takedown would help them. Everyone is used to Obama whining when he doesn’t get his way.
The hardball political fact is that attacking the court will help the president’s campaign and it will damage the court for years to come.
A CBS News/New York Times poll released last week shows most Americans already believe the ruling on healthcare reform will be based on justices’ personal and political views. According to the survey, 55 percent of Americans believe the justices’ political ties will play a role in the healthcare decision.
An earlier CBS/New York Times poll from this month found an overwhelming majority of Americans, 76 percent, said the personal and political views of the Supreme Court justices influence their decisions in all cases — not just healthcare. The same poll found that 60 percent of Americans now believe that lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices are a “bad thing.”
The bottom line is that public confidence in the Supreme Court, after controversial and political decisions in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, is the most fragile it has been in a generation. And remember, the same polls have shown most Americans are not convinced the healthcare reform law is a good idea.
So…if SCOTUS does what most Americans want and expect, and then Obama denounces them, it helps Obama and hurts the court? That makes no sense at all. It could hurt the court, but it will hurt Obama more. It might be a Samson strategy — take down the whole house — but it’s no nuclear option.
The history of ObamaCare is that the Democrats have wanted a massive health care takeover since the time of Truman, but never had the majorities in place to get one until the 2008 elections. But after that election, the economy should have been the top priority. The Democrats instead wasted time debating among themselves on ObamaCare (the GOP couldn’t stop them), engaged in a host of shady tactics from passing bills in the dead of night and on holidays, “demon pass,” making backroom deals, not allowing members of Congress or the American people to read the bill before it was passed, and passing the bill on narrow partisan lines while claiming it was “bipartisan.” The majority of Americans never supported the bill. The majority wants it struck down. It is demonstrably hurting the economy. It fundamentally changes the citizen-state relationship and threatens to bankrupt state governments and kill off the private insurance industry. The president’s new argument is that he needs more time to fix the economy, but ObamaCare — whether SCOTUS strikes it down or not — stands as powerful evidence that he doesn’t deserve more time. When he had the majorities to fix the economy, he wasted his time and rammed through a bill that made the recession worse. His political and economic judgement are terrible and he deserves to be fired.
If ObamaCare is struck down, Obama will listen to voices on the left like Williams and will denounce the decision. But that will not help him. He will look like a man who wasted time on a bill that hurt and divided the country and is now whining that the court has followed the Constitution and stopped him.