In a stunning and surprising victory for President Obama, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld what is now commonly referred to as "Obamacare" by a 5-4 vote. The surprising part was that the deciding vote was cast by Chief Justice John Roberts instead of Justice Anthony Kennedy who has been the deciding vote many times before and most assumed he would be again.
But Kennedy sided with the minority this time and it took a fairly conservative jurist to hand the victory to the Democrats.
There were all kinds of hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth yesterday on the Internet after the decision was released. In fact two major news organizations, in an effort to be first, got it wrong. Both CNN and Fox News both reported that the health care bill had been overturned. CNN quickly recanted its story but, predictably, Fox took a lot longer.
The burr in the saddle to most Republicans is the governmental mandate requiring every person to buy health insurance, or so they say. Obamacare is more like Romneycare than different from it. In fact, the Republicans first came up with the idea but it quickly became poison when it became a part of the president's bill. The Republicans initially supported it because it's essentially a Republican concept. They have railed for years about welfare, food stamps, unemployment checks and anything else designed to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate of our society. They've consistently opposed those things because they think if a person is down and out, it's his or her own fault and it's up to them to pull themselves back up.
Certainly for a lot of people, it IS their fault but for many it's not. In fact, it's not rare at all to find ourselves in a position we would never have anticipated without having done anything to put ourselves there. There is no magic brush you can paint the entire population with. Individual circumstances are different and no general theory or explanation can explain everybody's situation.
But I digress. Mandated health insurance is a Republican concept because today millions and millions of dollars are lost by the health care industry because they treat people who are sick or injured and have no ability to pay their bills. And because private enterprise isn't in the business of losing money, their losses are passed on to us, the people who DO have insurance through increases in the cost of our policies. The Republicans rant and rave saying it's the only federal law that requires us to buy something but it doesn't do that either. But if you don't, you'll have to pay a tax.
Many areas of our lives are controlled by the government at either the local, state or federal level and most people agree it's a good thing. If you're going to drive a motor vehicle on the streets of this great land, you have to have a driver's license and proof of insurance. If you want to hunt or fish, you have to have a license. If you want to go to a state park or recreational site, you have to buy a pass. And now, if you want medical care, you'll have to have insurance or pay a tax for not having it.
But, staying true to their cause, the Republicans now say they will try to gut the entire bill in the House of Representatives, where they have a majority.
Do they intend to do that because the bill is flawed on its face or is it flawed simply because it belongs to Obama? I think a lot of people know the answer to that question. Before the general election in November, I plan on writing a column called 'The Socialists vs. the Fascists' because that's the depths we've reached in the most uncivil discourse in a long time.
I remember writing a column during George W. Bush's two terms in which I referred to him as "Dubya." I was slammed a couple of days later in this paper in a letter to the editor for being "disrespectful" to the President.
I've never seen anything approaching the level of disrespect shown to this president, not even the eight-year, hundreds of millions of dollars witch hunt conducted by the special prosecutor's office trying to find anything they could use against President Clinton. Eventually, the infamous dress worn by Monica Lewinsky was found, but not by the special prosecutor's office.
To make the point and paraphrase an old adage, Obama has been called everything but a white man since he took office; daily, hourly, incessantly, not because of what he's done or not done but because of who he is. I asked a good friend of mine the other day who happens to be as hard core Republican as anyone I've ever known how he's suffered under an Obama presidency and he had to admit that he, personally, hasn't but "many" other people have.
That's the convenient cop-out when we're doing OK but we don't like the guy calling the shots.
This isn't a political debate any longer. It's personal.