Paul Begala: Damn You, John Roberts, for Upholding Obamacare
Damn you, John Roberts. Sure, by joining the court's four liberals in upholding President Obama's Affordable Care Act, you have preserved a law that will protect tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions. You have saved health coverage for millions of middle-class Americans. You have protected free mammograms for women on Medicare, retained the subsidy for seniors' prescription drugs, and allowed parents to carry their adult children on their health insurance until they're 26. You have validated—indeed, rescued—Obama's signature domestic achievement.
So why do I damn the chief justice? Because it's all about me, isn't it? I was loaded for bear. I'd already drafted a bitter, bilious, bombastic broadside against the right-wing hacks on the Republican Court. (Oops, my side won, so they're the highly esteemed and completely independent Supreme Court.)
What am I to do now? Go back to explaining to people why forcing them to buy health insurance against their will is good for them? (It is, by the way, but that's no fun.) Return to playing defense and explaining that while Obama campaigned against an individual mandate and Republicans came up with the idea, it really is a progressive policy? Or retreat to the safe and sound sanctuary that everything you hate about Obamacare is based on Romneycare?
I think the last is my best option. So to all my right-wing buddies who feel betrayed by the court, keep this in mind: all Chief Justice Roberts did was uphold a policy conceived by the Heritage Foundation, midwifed by Newt Gingrich, raised by Mitt Romney, and then adopted in adulthood by Barack Obama.
So instead of going on Anderson Cooper tonight and thundering about the injustice of the justices, I will be reduced to mewing about the mandate. Better for Americans, to be sure. But tougher on me. Damn that Roberts. He outsmarted me again.