What's a vexed, reactive incumbent to do when his best-laid plans go awry, put upon by lying hordes after his job, then that pugnacious posse at the Supreme Court (SC)? Of course, hark! find a sure-fire insurance policy. How about a unilateral, pre-emptive sortie against the black-robed gang of five Supremes that pays off with protection, if not leverage, come what may?
After all, we're beyond counting how this Court embarrasses itself (and America) by anti-democratic, throwback rulings, and like the old days on the wrong side of history. On top of all, slick, fast-talking shills fronting as impartial judges echo anemic rightwing FOX slogans. Fretting over fantasy broccoli commands cheapens the debate, the law, and notions of justice.
True, Obama will feast more by eviscerating the Ryan budget, but bashing the Supremes is a good opening act. Yes, let's indict villains who smile and smile while strip-searching away our health care options. Forget life, liberty and pursuit of happiness when curable maladies strike home.
Curiously, a sensible campaign tactic was mangled by this smartest-dumb president since Clinton. Certainly, this White House braced for questions about the judicial jujitsu hurled against "Obamacare" a week ago. But why then dismiss the universe's most powerful, least accountable officials as "unelected," irrelevantly doubting their legitimacy? Was Obama covertly, maybe unconsciously, backing public referendums on SC picks? Doubtful, but it's not the most ridiculous thought experiment I've ever heard. For sure, we'd not endure that multiply-challenged Clarence Thomas had he been on a national ballot. Would such formalities do any worse than putting Thomas, Scalia and Alito on a single court, let alone today's parody of impartiality?
The Senate Elects
Actually, Obama's snide dig is doubly misguided: justices are in fact "elected" by Senate voting (in committee, then full), a method that filters some (but not enough) like Robert Bork. Was Mr. Diplomacy implying we might un-elect (read: impeach) obnoxious judges because they dare scorn insurance reform? Leftwing cranks salivate at impeachment chatter, if only to remind entrenched untouchables there are systemic remedies, in theory. Banish that folly, as likely as proving Obama was Kenyan-born. And yet, threatening Thomas and Scalia is a straightforward House option, far simpler than decades to pass formal amendments on health care.
Back to reality. Okay, so our ex-law instructor-in-chief declares his utter (though hardly warranted) confidence this Court will not veto, as civilization itself lies in the balance. Let Obama badger extreme Supremes for his implied complaints carry low risk. Yet why then fudge on reality twice, as Obama fantasized Court rejection of bills "passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress" would be "unprecedented"? Say what? Frankly, I'd expect such nonsense from W., or Rick Perry, or Washed Out from Wasilla. Strangely, Obama sounded as weird as his sometime rightwing allies, ready to burst forth on the intolerable chorus of "tyranny from activist judges" destroying America. Look, at least there's been no reinstatement of torture or restrictions on the vote to white, old men. Yet.
Though increasingly bereft of sane checks and balances, our system boasts judicial vetoes -- and this very SC did that even to W. over lawless military tribunals, an anti-terrorism favorite with much greater Congressional majorities than Obamacare. Questioning such intact roles as judicial review is what we'd expect from law instructors at Liberty University, not the first-rate University of Chicago (disclosure/confirmation: my old teaching haunt).