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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gene Seymour on the Supreme Court today

IT'S RARE WHEN WE WIN ONE OF THESE THINGS,  so let's collect our thoughts:

1.) Nothing says "dysfunctional state of journalism" quite like the way today's get-it-first-who-cares-if-we-get-it-wrong content providers cover today's U.S. Supreme Court. Editors, pundits and even reporters who should know better were trying to handicap this process from its beginnings. In fact, many of those covering the arguments were tumbling over each other in an effort to see who would be first to declare the government's case a Loser-with-a-capital-L. ("Jeez, Sonia's sure asking a lot of...questions, isn't she?") Imagine being a veteran court reporter being pressed by his boss to come down hard on whether Obama's a goner or not. (Never mind those who were going to die for lack of insurance. About whom more later.) Here's news that apparently stays news (except to Jon Stewart): The Highest Court in the Land can never ever be reliably handicapped. the Dred Scott decision likely came as a surprise to a few people, even those who got what they wanted from it.

This slipshod journalism went right down the wire -- and CNN will now forever be slammed through the ages as the Folks Who Got It Wrong with their premature announcement that the health care law had been overturned. (It seemed to take forever for them to unravel their way to the correct information. As punishment, Wolf ("This is very complicated") Blitzer & the rest of his operation should be condemned to hearing Aaron Sorkin shouting in their ears, day and night, for two weeks straight. Too lenient? Fine. Ten weeks.

2.) Speaking of Dred Scott...the name of Chief Justice Roger Taney has in the century-and-a-half since his court's decision, been soaked in slime for weaseling on slavery. The incumbent chief justice, John Roberts, likely knows this. He is nothing if not an avid student of the court over which he presides. He is also a very conservative jurist; some say he leans further rightward on some issues than Samuel Allito. Nevertheless, one gets the sense that it is primarily as the former that Roberts decided that, one way or another, he wasn't going to be forever branded as the Chief Justice Who Screwed America's First Black President Out Of A Chance For Re-election. (That's right. "Chance." This thing is far from over yet, no matter which pinhead-with-a-platform says otherwise.) He also perceived an opportunity to evade that fate through the most basic application/interpretation of Constitutional law. He has plenty of time to do something we don't like.(Oh, right. Citizens United. Check.) But the man's not blind. He can see how dysfunctional all our institutions have become and, maybe, he's trying to apply wet blankets to the hysteria here.

3.) I refuse, now or ever, to resort to the dread newspeak description, "Obamacare," to describe a program whose principal objective is to make sure no one has to go through what millions of families have had to endure to get decent, affordable health care. In the two years that this issue has inflamed passions, my own family has had to endure its own health issues in startlingly compressed fashion. I took each right-wing cheap shot against the very notion of equitable care as a personal affront and I'm guessing I'm not alone. The president himself has never forgotten who this law is for and neither should the aforementioned pinheads-with-a-platform. And just so we're clear: I'm STILL holding out for single-payer benefits. And I still don't think November's a slam dunk for progressives.

Back to you, Hoda.