This week has really reminded me of Election Day 2004. Liberals, then, were just plain convinced John Kerry was going to be elected president, so much so Bob Shrum actually called Kerry, “Mr. President.” The left had convinced itself Bush was unpopular, Kerry had closed the deal, and everything was swinging his way in the final week. So, when the early, unweighted exit polls came up Tuesday afternoon, they were exuberant.
I imagine a lot of liberals felt a similar letdown reading the transcript of Tuesday’s arguments on Obamacare. Almost immediately Justices Scalia and Kennedy jump in with tough questions, with the latter quickly getting to the heart of the matter: “Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?”
The Court might very well uphold the law, but it will not nearly be the slamdunk that almost all liberals thought it would be. Why did the left get it so wrong?
The problem for the left is that they do not have a lot of interaction with conservatives, whose intellects are often disparaged, ideas are openly mocked, and intentions regularly questioned. Conservative ideas rarely make it onto the pages of most middle- and high-brow publications of news and opinion the left frequents. So, liberals regularly find themselves surprised when their ideas face pushback.
I think that is exactly what happened with Obamacare. The attitude of President Obama (a former con law lecturer at the University of Chicago, no less!), Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid was very much that they are doing big, important things to help the American people, why wouldn’t that be constitutional? No less an important Democratic leader as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee cited the (nonexistent) “good and welfare clause” to justify the mandate.
So that is why the left was so surprised. They have no intellectual sympathy for the positions articulated by the conservatives on the Supreme Court. Those opinions rarely if ever make it into their news reports, newspapers, or magazines, and insofar as they were confronted with these contrary views they just ignored them.