By Teresa Welsh |
President Obama struts, Democrats exhale, Republicans fume, and the Tea Party reignites. The 2012 presidential election just got hotter.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who was decisive in today's healthcare decision, is sure to be praised by President Obama and the Democrats as a reasonable, discerning, and honorable individual who rose above partisanship to do what was "right." Likewise, Roberts will likely be pilloried by Republicans and Mitt Romney for not having sided with the minority, whose opinion was articulated in the dissent by Justice Anthony Kennedy: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."
But come November, both sides may regret their initial reactions. The reason: partisan enthusiasm. In short, the turnout predictions just changed.
According to Gallup, Mitt Romney has had some difficulty generating enthusiasm among Republicans who backed more conservative candidates during the primary and within the swing states, Obama holds the advantage. Further, Democratic strategist James Carville, articulating what many on the left believe, wrote: "The Tea Party is Over."
But nothing excites a party more than a political loss. And so today, while Democrats are basking in the sunlight of this decision, Republicans are raising unbelievable amounts of money and strongly coalescing behind Romney's candidacy. Social conservatives and small government libertarians now believe their only hope to save America from becoming a European-style social democracy is to elect Mitt Romney and repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
If anything, the Supreme Court has helped the GOP more than it helped Obama. By ruling that the individual mandate is only constitutional because it's a tax, the Supreme Court has done two critical things to further the cause of conservatives: One, place a limiting principle on the commerce clause, which will surely become an important precedent; and two, allow the GOP to run against the Affordable Care Act as the "largest tax increase in history."
Obama would do well to rein in his excitement and focus on making sure his party's base doesn't get too comfortable with this win. The seeds of destruction are often found in success.
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