Thursday, June 28, 2012

John Roberts’ Strategy 
Cagey, Long Term, 
Forward Thinking
”Having gone through the opinion, I am not going to beat up on John Roberts. I am disappointed, but I want to make a few points. John Roberts is playing at a different game than the rest of us. We’re on poker. He’s on chess.”
by Erick Erickson
Editor -
As you have no doubt heard by now, the Supreme Court largely upheld Obamacare with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority 5 to 4 decision.  Even Justice Kennedy called for the whole law to be thrown out, but John Roberts saved it.
Having gone through the opinion, I am not going to beat up on John Roberts. I am disappointed, but I want to make a few points. John Roberts is playing at a different game than the rest of us. We’re on poker. He’s on chess.
FIRST: I get the strong sense from a few anecdotal stories about Roberts over the past few months and the way he has written this opinion that he very, very much was concerned about keeping the Supreme Court above the partisan fray and damaging the reputation of the Court long term. It seems to me the left was smart to make a full frontal assault on the Court as it persuaded Roberts.
SECOND: In writing his opinion, Roberts forces everyone to deal with the issue as a political, not a legal issue. In the past twenty years, Republicans have punted a number of issues to the Supreme Court asking the Court to save us from ourselves. They can’t do that with Roberts. They tried with McCain-Feingold, which was originally upheld. This case is a timely reminder to the GOP that five votes are not a sure thing.
THIRD: while Roberts has expanded the taxation power, which I don’t really think is a massive expansion from what it was, Roberts has curtailed the commerce clause as an avenue for Congressional overreach. In so doing, he has affirmed the Democrats are massive taxers. In fact, I would argue that this may prevent future mandates in that no one is going to go around campaigning on new massive tax increases. On the upside, I guess we can tax the hell out of abortion now. Likewise, in a 7 to 2 decision, the Court shows a strong majority still recognize the concept of federalism and the restraints of Congress in forcing states to adhere to the whims of the federal government.
FOURTH: In forcing us to deal with this politically, the Democrats are going to have a hard time running to November claiming the American people need to vote for them to preserve Obamacare. It remains deeply, deeply unpopular with the American people. If they want to make a vote for them a vote for keeping a massive tax increase, let them try.
FIFTH: The decision totally removes a growing left-wing talking point that suddenly they must vote for Obama because of judges. The Supreme Court as a November issue for the left is gone. For the right? That sound you hear is the marching of libertarians into Camp Romney, with noses held, knowing that the libertarian and conservative coalitions must unite to defeat Obama and Obamacare.
FINALLY: While I am not down on John Roberts like many of you are today, I will be very down on Congressional Republicans if they do not now try to shut down the individual mandate. Force the Democrats on the record about the mandate. Defund Obamacare. This now, by necessity, is a political fight and the GOP sure as hell should fight.
Sixty percent of Americans agree with them on the issue. And guess what? The Democrats have been saying for a while that individual pieces of Obamacare are quite popular. With John Roberts’ opinion, the repeal fight takes place on GOP turf, not Democrat turf. The all or nothing repeal has always been better ground for the GOP and now John Roberts has forced everyone onto that ground.
It seems very, very clear to me in reviewing John Roberts’ decision that he is playing a much longer game than we and can afford to with a life tenure. And he probably just handed Mitt Romney the White House.
*A friend points out one other thing — go back to 2009. Olympia Snowe was the deciding vote to get Obamacare out of the Senate Committee. Had she voted no, we’d not be here now.
Sincerely yours,
Erick Erickson


  1. So is he the devil or not? you're not very coherent.

    Glad to see you've come around. I came to the same conclusion on my own...

    you can read about it on Friday...

  2. FT,
    You might want to look at the quick post that I put up today.

  3. Silverfiddle,
    I can't speak for FT. But I'm thinking that he's trying to look at different aspects of yesterday's decision by the SCOTUS.

  4. "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."

    ~ Walt Whitman

    In truth, as I amply indicated, Kurt, this is Erick Erickson's piece not mine. A member of a rare bred –– a dyed-in-the-wool New England Conservative born and raised in Iowa –– sent it through email claiming it had cheered him up.

    I read it and tried to feel better about the situation with only moderate success. Erickson's thoughts are constructive, hope-filled, and intelligent, but I can't help feeling his logic is more-than-bit strained. Not quite to the point where is grasping a straws, but a little too close to that for comfort. I wouldn't go so far as to call Erickson disingenuous, but his hopeful interpretation does seem intellectually contrived, not heartfelt and smacks of an attempt to hide or deny feelings of desperation.

    So why did I post Erickson's piece, if it failed to make a true believer out of me?

    Because we hope to present as many different sides of the issues as we can here -- as long as they are deemed sincere (by FreeThinke), intelligent, thoughtful, well-written and free of the gratuitous grenades of garbage that try –– and fail –– to pass themselves off as legitimate political commentary.

    Having been an advocate of "nipping it in the bud" all my life, I fail to see much virtue in finessing a crisis like this when Justice Roberts clearly had the power to squelch it, get rid of it altogether and be done with i –– and most likely the Obama presidency too in one fell swoop.

    To me it's another sad instance of "kicking the an down the road."

    Justice Roberts declined to play; he punted instead.

    ~ FreeThinke

    PS: As for my having portrayed John Roberts as "one of the many faces of Satan:" We'd have more fun at this blogging business, if you and others could develop more of a taste for whimsy, and not cling to literal interpretations of every word, as though as though every statement is presented as a dry, strictly provable fact. - FT

  5. " ... he's trying to look at different aspects of yesterday's decision by the SCOTUS."

    You beat me to the punch, AOW. That's exactly what I'm trying to do.

    To tell the truth I'm not quite sure what I really think –– yet. I'm floundering a bit trying to figure out how to accept the unacceptable, if that is what must be done.

    Walt Whitman again makes an observation chillingly appropriate for our time ––and all time.

    "Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty."

    ~ Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

    Justice Roberts went on record as saying something to the effect that he did not believe it was "his job" to save the people of this nation from the consequences of any poor decisions they may have made for themselves.

    That's tantamount to some bystander at the scene of an accident trained as a medic refusing to do CPR on a dying crash victim, "because that job properly belongs to the official members of the Ambulance Rescue Squad. It's not only unethical, it's improper procedure –– and against union rules –– to do another man's job for him without first getting official sanction through the "proper" chain of command."

    Meanwhile, the patient has expired on the pavement for lack of "proper" medical attention.


    ~ FreThinke

  6. FT,
    Yes, it is too soon to make our decision as citizens with regard to what this SCOTUS ruling really means.

    I'm neither in the dumps nor euphoric. Several weeks to go before we really get a grasp on this -- just as in the Trayvon Martin case.

  7. Erickson's logic is strained because Roberts' ruling was strained, held together by the slenderest of threads.

    I don't like it, but I think I understand it. More importantly, I know this is not the end. They did not invent some new right or government power. Indeed, he rejected the government argument that they could do this under the commerce clause.

  8. Take a look at this list.

    Your evaluation of those points?

  9. Candidate Barrack Obama said, SEIU health forum 2007

    "If the House passes the Senate healthcare bill tomorrow, it will be seen merely as a stepping stone to further reforms, including the public option, which has always been and always will be part of achieving universal healthcare, i.e., total federal takeover of the American healthcare system, fully 1/6th of the the U.S. economy."

    The term "Socialized Medicine" is used to describe a system of publicly administered national health care.

  10. Wow!

    Michael Savage on Chief Justice John Roberts

    Well, as long as we're at it, can we get Obama and Pelosi drug tested? Just sayin'.

  11. More fun with the "logic" of far left extreme Stalinists that comprise every iota of the pseudo-conservative Tea Party movement:

    Howling to subsidize illegal immigrants and freeloading Baby Boomer grannies with Medicare is "constitutionalism," but not quite as "constitutionalist" as praising the judicial branch of government for creating taxes.

    All that's missing is a Rod Serling narration.



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