The fruits of arrogance, chicanery, and reconciliation
By: Peter Lemiska
As of this date, no one knows – that is, no one should know – the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act, but it’s clear the supporters of Obamacare are concerned. On March 22, Nancy Pelosi offered strong reassurances to everyone, including perhaps herself, announcing: “We knew what we were doing when we passed this bill. It is ironclad, constitutionally.” Later, Mr. Obama, himself, weighed in, arguing that it would be “unprecedented, extraordinary” for the Supreme Court to overturn a “law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” He continued his challenge to the Court by implying that this “unelected group of people” might lack the authority to “overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” Unfortunately, many Americans are only vaguely aware of the authority and responsibilities of our three branches of government. Few really understand the concept of judicial review, and it’s not widely known that the Supreme Court has, in fact, declared scores of “duly constituted” laws to be unconstitutional throughout its history. So if those same comments had come from an average citizen, they could have been explained simply as ignorance of the Constitution. But uttered by a U.S. President and one-time Senior Lecturer on constitutional law, the remarks were at the same time outrageous and unsettling, leading to intense criticism from conservatives and liberals alike. In fact, a federal three-judge panel subsequently ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to clarify Obama’s remarks in a written letter.
Some have suggested that Mr. Obama was actually attempting to intimidate the Court, or somehow influence its decision. If that were true, it would certainly be unseemly and inappropriate, and probably a violation of law. But perhaps he had another purpose in mind, one that not too many people are talking about. He’s well aware that even his vaunted powers of persuasion would have little impact on a panel of legal scholars. His rank and file supporters, on the other hand, would be much more receptive to his incendiary rhetoric. Maybe those brazen and bizarre comments were really a cynical effort to discredit the Court, perhaps even to incite public outcry, if the law is struck down. In fact, even though he has since backed away from those comments, whether intentional or not, he has already sown the seeds of discontent, regardless of the final decision.
But the question remains. Why does the Supreme Court need to review this health care law? Today Pelosi tells us that the law is constitutionality ironclad, but that whole question seemed rather irrelevant in March 2010, when she urged fellow Democrats: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” In retrospect, I suppose they could have also found out what was in it by simply reading the 2,700-page bill. But nobody seemed willing to take on that task back then. Anyway, they all seemed to agree that passing it was far more important than understanding it. Obama and Pelosi seem to be counting on mass amnesia, hoping the public has forgotten about the devious tactics employed by the Democrats to pass a widely unpopular piece of legislation, legislation that has resulted in higher costs and lower quality health care for most Americans. They hope the people have forgotten all about the Faustian bargains that were offered to entice support for the bill, the Cornhusker Kickback, and the Louisiana Purchase of 2009, along with the blatant misuse of the reconciliation process, all to ensure passage of a contentious, partisan bill that was passed by the narrowest of margins. And of course, they hope we’ve all forgotten about the waivers slipped to the unions and other supporters after the bill was passed. But there was one thing that certainly hasn’t been forgotten. It’s the provision that brought us to where we are today, the individual mandate. More than half of the U.S. Attorneys General across the country determined that it was unconstitutional for Congress to compel each and every American citizen to purchase a product, any product, including health insurance. And so they took their case to court. Obama is right about one thing. The fate of the Affordable Health Care Act now indeed rests in the hands of a small group of unelected people. But it might not have been that way if Democrats had taken a more reasonable approach two years ago. While Obama and Pelosi would like us to believe this legislation is a heroic and monumental accomplishment, the very essence of democracy at work, most of us see it as affront to our democratic process. It is the result of an arrogant, frenzied, and clumsy effort by Democrats to ram through Congress a half-baked piece of legislation before surrendering power, without reaching across the aisle, and without considering the will of the people. Today, they are reaping the bitter fruit of their arrogance, shady deals, and underhanded tactics.
The writer is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and holds a BA degree in psychology. His commentaries appear on various websites, and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.