In recent days, much has been made over the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Obamacare. President Obama -- duly elected by a majority of the American people and a majority of the Electoral College -- is being denounced as a dictator and a tyrant by the right wing. Growing up I certainly missed a few history classes here and there. But I was always under the impression that a real dictator wouldn't be all that keen on sending women to get mammograms. When a tyrant sends you to a doctor, it's to pronounce you dead under suspicious circumstances -- not because he cares about your health. Obama is being attacked for delivering on his promise, something that is anathematic in modern American politics.
If there is to be legitimate criticism of President Obama, it's that he's a plagiarist. The individual mandate was a conservative idea from a conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, implemented by a "severely conservative" governor, Mitt Romney. Republicans are opposed to the social safety net that is pervasive in developed countries -- and the individual mandate was conceived as their answer. If you buy insurance, then your health care costs won't be visited upon the more affluent. Your health and costs are now your responsibility. Isn't that Ronald Reagan's dream?
In this debate there is a theme I see everywhere nowadays: the absolute hypocrisy of our American culture. We say things that we know are not true, and we believe things that we can see are ridiculous. Being the world's only superpower, no one can challenge us to keep our BS in check. As a result, we keep running our mouths and descend further into absurdity.
My forthcoming book, I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up, is an examination of how hypocritical we've become as a nation. This blowback to the Supreme Court decision is just par for the course. John Roberts was nominated by a conservative President, and approved by a largely party-line conservative vote to be the Chief Justice of the United States. Those senators were endorsing his legal acumen and his Constitutional philosophy. He told them that he would be like an umpire, calling balls and strikes fairly. They assumed that this was said with a wink and a nod, doubletalk needed to get into place before he let loose. They now attack him for not being deceptive in his confirmation hearings. He has earned ire for being, like Barack Obama, a man who keeps his word.
The harpy Ann Coulter has pointed out an interesting phenomenon at play here. As she put it, "Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever." What she means is, justices appointed by conservative Presidents often turn liberal once on the Court. But Coulter never stopped to ask why that was the case. It's not because of polls; they don't have to run for anything ever again. It's not because of lobbyists; that's forbidden. And why is it never the reverse? Why do justices appointed by the left never become conservatives? In my view, it's because of the three branches of government, the Supreme Court has by far the most far-sighted view of America.
A President has eight years at most. Congressmen face the voters at home frequently. But the Supremes are there for life. They are beholden to no one -- and that's why all the iconic rulings that Republicans hate were presided over by Republican appointees. They can vote their conscience without any electoral repercussions.
Chief Justice Earl Warren preceded John Roberts by decades, and was even more of an extreme flip. Warren was a conservative governor of California. He was such a partisan that Republican Thomas Dewey selected him as his running mate against FDR, the all-time hero of the Democratic party. Warren was such a political dealmaker that he agreed to support Eisenhower in exchange for a Supreme Court appointment -- how "insider" is that?
But once on the Court, Warren forgot his party and the special interests. He became, like Obama and Roberts would later be, a man who keeps his word. He became a judge, not a partisan politician. He made sure that Brown v. Board of Ed. was unanimous in ending segregation. He led the Miranda case, guaranteeing civil liberties we now too often take for granted. These cases were extremely controversial at the time -- and yet no one is calling for their reversal these days. Warren ended up being more transformative than most Presidents.
I'm not saying Obamacare is perfect. No government program can be. Yet having fewer sick people today and in the future is what any American, Supreme Court justice or otherwise, should want--and what only partisan ideologues can possibly oppose.
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