Jay Carney on Obama's Court remarks: It's the "reverse of intimidation"

Well, no, it’s not the reverse of it. But if O really thinks he can strong-arm Anthony Kennedy and/or John Roberts by lying publicly about how allegedly unprecedented striking down the law would be — a claim even his legal mentor, Laurence Tribe, admitted was a misstatement — then I’m guessing he’s in for an even bigger disappointment than he’s expecting. If FDR couldn’t get away with over-the-top Supreme Court demagoguery, O certainly can’t. Especially when a majority of the public thinks the mandate, which is at the heart of this constitutional question, stinks on ice.

James Taranto has this exactly right, I believe:

One theory is that he’s trying to intimidate the justices into deciding the case his way. But if that’s his aim, it would be odd to wait until after they’ve heard the case–and, it is believed, after they’ve privately voted on it–to begin the campaign. Moreover, while we’d say a politician’s trash talk is unlikely to have any effect on the justices at all, the odds that it would influence them in his favor are surely minuscule. Judges jealously guard their independence, as the Fifth Circuit demonstrated yesterday. They’re right to do so…

As we noted in our August essay, “Everyone loves a winner, and progressives are angry and disconsolate with Mr. Obama because they increasingly see him as a loser.” If the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare, Obama will be a loser again. If he shows what normal people regard as due deference to a coequal branch of government, the Angry Left will see him as a weak loser and may turn their anger against him…

If this theory is right, then Obama is attacking the Supreme Court in order to deflect the rage of his own followers. He has a problem with his base, all right, and he wants to turn it into someone else’s problem.

His problems are always someone else’s problems, huh? But yeah, I think Taranto’s right: Obama’s top priority now, as always, is reelection, and scapegoating the Supremes can potentially help with that. The core of his campaign message is fairness, which is why he spends so much time blathering about a penny-ante gimmick like the Buffett Rule. Even if it won’t make a dent in the deficit, it’s a good way to get his base angry and motivated. Same here if the Court strikes down O-Care. He wants non-lawyers to believe that somehow a constitutional novelty like the mandate should be a slam dunk; that was the point of stressing on Monday how allegedly “unprecedented” it’d be to get rid of it. If it happens anyway, he can point to it as further evidence that the game is rigged by these darned wingnuts against “progress” and therefore the left has no choice but to turn out en masse and give him a few more Supreme Court appointments. He can’t intimidate Anthony Kennedy, but just maybe he’ll get to name his replacement. That’s the point of all this.

Anyway. Now that O achieved what he set out to do, both Carney and Eric Holder are free to admit that yes, of course, the White House and DOJ accept the principle of judicial review. Two clips for you here, one of Carney on the “reverse of intimidation” (click the image to watch) and the second via The Hill of Norah O’Donnell and Ed Henry reminding him that no, in fact, it’s not correct to say that the Court hasn’t overturned any statutes passed under the Commerce Clause over the past 80 years. Carney tries to clarify that. Emphasis on “tries.”