Time magazine demonstrated in its last issue that it was so overwhelmingly thrilled with John Roberts upholding ObamaCare that it put Roberts on the cover with the title “Roberts Rules,” touting his “landmark decision.” Inside, the magazine gave the ruling 15-plus pages of coverage.
By contrast, the Congress voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to deliver documents on the “Fast & Furious” program drew two dismissive paragraphs – one less paragraph than Time editor Richard Stengel took to boost Roberts as a chip off the old block of “John Marshall, the greatest of all Chief Justices” in an Editor’s Note:
John Marshall, the greatest of all Chief Justices, famously wrote that it is the job of the high court “to say what the law is.” It is not, he implied, the province of the court to say whether a law is wise or sound or good for the people; it is simply to rule on whether or not it is constitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts was channeling his groundbreaking predecessor when he wrote his landmark opinion on the Affordable Care Act.
...The court’s decision is so important that we moved up our publishing schedule to create this special issue in order to get it to you as soon as possible.
The top quote on the “Briefing” quotes page was Roberts declaring “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” In another context or case, Time would probably find this sentiment loathsome and lacking compassion, but not this time.
You don’t have to love classical music to be amazed that Beethoven wrote his Ninth Symphony while deaf or be a fan of the old New York Giants to marvel at Willie Mays’ catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series.
For legal buffs, the virtuoso performance of Chief Justice John Roberts in deciding the biggest case of his career was just that sort of jaw dropper, no matter how they might feel about Obamacare.
Not since King Solomon offered to split the baby has a judge engineered a slicker solution to a bitterly divisive dispute.
But wait, Von Drehle’s writing got even sillier:
The fact that Roberts had to squirm like Houdini to reach middle ground (in the second part of his ruling, he held that the mandate to buy insurance is not a tax, but by the third section he announced that it is) only enhanced the bravura of the feat. As the saying goes, it’s one thing to dance like Fred Astaire, but Ginger Rogers did it backwards in high heels. Philosophical purity is easy — the blogosphere is lousy with it — while pragmatic solutions to difficult problems are as rare these days as virgins on Jersey Shore.
As such, the Chief Justice’s ruling confounded a political world primed for Armageddon: the spectacle of five Republican appointees striking down the signature achievement of a Democratic President in the midst of a tough re-election campaign. After a party-line vote by the court to decide the disputed 2000 election for George W. Bush over Al Gore, and another in the controversial Citizens United campaign-spending case, the Washington atmosphere reeked of gasoline, and the Obamacare case looked like a match ready to fall.
Von Drehle made no attempt to blame the Left for pouring the rhetorical gasoline and getting out the match box. He touted Roberts for taking “compromise” off the dirty-word list; “What Roberts managed to do with Obamacare vindicated the virtue of compromise in an era of Occupiers, Tea Partyers and litmus-testing special interests.”
Meanwhile, the Holder contretemps drew two paragraphs under the headline “Misplaced Contempt?” Eric Dodds conceded the contempt vote was “historic,” and then declared it was off base:
The vote came a day after Fortune published findings of a six-month investigation concluding that – contrary to popular belief – agents did not intentionally allow guns to walk. Instead, Fortune said, agents’ efforts to make arrests were “hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws.” The findings suggest that a key premise of the investigation by the GOP-controlled Oversight Committee is off base. Despite the contempt charge, it appears unlikely Holder will be prosecuted.