By Mark Green
This was the week when lame duck Obama became a political lion. Lowry and Reagan debate its impact on the country and '16. Can Rich find a pony in there somewhere? Key question: will GOP prospects promise new Justices to reverse ACA and gay marriage thereby keeping it a rallying issue for Democrats? (Fish gotta swim...)
*Aftermath of Charleston Massacre. Ron Reagan (My Father at 100) asserts that the Confederate flag should never have flown originally on public property in the '20s because of the KKK or in the '60s because of Jim Crow. Lincoln scholar Rich Lowry (National Review) agrees that it should now come down because it's unarguably associated with a war based on the Confederate South wanting to retain slavery. But he adds that it's odious to compare it to a Swastika and to imply that all who buy flag are potential Dylan Roofs -- Roof being more a racist loner than someone inspired by his environment. He also reminds us that it was Lincoln who first showed empathy and charity to Southern soldiers and people. We should too.
Ron disagrees. If numerically Nazis were worse, both Holocaust and Slavery have much in common since both monstrously dehumanized millions. And the links are strong between racism and the GOP recently and historically -- look at Nixon's Southern Strategy.
Rich strongly pushes back, noting that the original "Southern Strategy" came from Ike who wanted to win some Southern States based on GOP principles -- and did when his party did well in wealthier suburban counties due less to race than economics. Ron strongly disagrees, noting how GOP avatar Lee Atwater explained that since his party "can't run around saying N*****, N*****, N*****, we talk about States Rights" as code.
The Host interrupts to note that more recently than Ike or Nixon was Gov. Reagan who announced his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, known only as the place where Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman were killed in 1963 -- and he included "States Rights" in his announcement. Lowry asks if the Host is saying Reagan was a "racist." No, only noting the fact and symbol of his announcement. Ron Reagan agrees that it was "wrong" of his father to start his campaign there, implying that it was the likely result of cunning aides.
What about the underlying substance behind the symbol -- racism? As Obama said on Marc Maron's podcast, the country is far better off since 1865 and 1965 but racism is "in our DNA". Ron explains that many people around world are racist because of their innate fear of people who look different. And there are policies that Democrats can push -- for judicial and education reform plus social programs alleviating poverty -- that can help reduce the pathology of racism.
Is it unfair for Democrats to link the GOP and Council of Conservative Citizens donations and and will it help them stir the Democratic base? "Yes and Yes," says Rich. "They'll wave this bloody shirt." And they'll accurately note, adds Ron, that white supremacists and anti-government terrorists take twice as many lives in the U. S. as 'Islamic Terrorists'.
*Supreme Court and Obamacare. The presidency is up for grabs in 2016 but there's now been a decisive ruling on the ACA -- by 6-3, including a chief justice who advised Bush in his Florida recount, the Supreme Court ruled that the law does allow subsidies to all who join exchanges, whether state or federal. We listen to Sen. Ted Cruz, a constitutional lawyer himself, call the decision "lawless."
Lowry disagrees with majority for "saving Congress from the bad law it wrote, which is not their job." Reagan scoffs, saying that you don't deny millions health insurance because of a drafting error taken out of context.
Did The Court follow the "illiction returns" and not want to create chaos in the health insurance market? Both agree that likely played a role in the CJ Roberts opinion. He cared more about "the New York Times and elite law school opinion," concludes Lowry, when he should have applied Scalia's test of just looking at the words of Congress, not its intent.
Host: In fact, the standard conservative approach to determine a law's constitutionality is to defer to the legislature and look at the language in the context of the whole law, as Roberts wrote quoting Scalia! (Here, Rich graciously acknowledges that two weeks ago your humble Host predicted this 6-3 result because Roberts would engage in just such reasoning.)
I used to debate Antonin Scalia in the 1970s on issues of federalism before bar panels and don't recognize this angry, nasty man. Reading his dissents replete with "jiggery pokery... applesauce... nearest hippie... judicial putsch," I believe that "Justice" Scalia has reached the WTF period of his long court tenure. He is giving fresh meaning to 'going down in flames', to being a living argument for judicial term limits, and in raising the prospect that he'll soon just publish emoticons as dissents to save time.
*Supreme Court and Marriage Equality. We all agree that public opinion has radically shifted in the past 15 years as more people came out and, says Rich, "they saw that their neighbors, family members and friends were gay." But he again disagrees with the decision because it shouldn't have forced the final 13 anti-marriage states to go along by judicial decree when the option of legislation was available.
"What about Loving v. Virginia," asks Ron, should it have not thrown all anti-miscegenation laws? Yes, Rich answers, because those laws were rooted in racial hatred and didn't fundamentally alter the concept of marriage. Also, the Court now risks the kind of blowback that obviously occurred after Roe v. Wade in 1973 "when conservatives were told to suck it up and go along... and they didn't." Ron responds that that unlike Roe, when conservatives could keep arguing about "dead babies," here there will be no arguable harm, other than the psychological damage of not being able to say your own marriage is no longer sacrosanct.
Coach Red Holtzman of the Knicks was asked why his team once lost five straight and he said, "how the hell would I know?" Rich is asked if his team's defensiveness over losses on Indiana religious liberty, Confederate Flag, ACA, Marriage Equality, Pope-Climate is just an unlucky streak or a sign of a big problem. He jauntily says that it's at times like these "why the National Review is needed more than ever."
Host: He has a point -- Katrina vanden Heuvel would say same thing about The Nation under President Reagan. But there is an alternate analysis: in each of these defeats, the Hard Right over-reached and democracy struck back and said 'no-way.'
Will the GOP use these defeats to pivot in 2016 away from divisive losing issues, as Jonathan Martin asked in Sunday front page New York Times piece? Unlikely. Not with zero GOP presidential aspirants agreeig with the gay marriage ruling and with nearly all threatening tactics from appointing new justices to reverse the two decisions this week to electing the Supreme Court. The fever has not broken, apparently...
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.
You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen
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