Rep. James Clyburn: Obama should campaign against the Supremes if they strike Obamacare

Last week, liberals were blindsided by the Supreme Court’s thoughtful and serious consideration of the constitutional objections to Obamacare — and conservatives were taught to hope as they’ve never hoped before that the Supremes might toss the entirety of the monstrosity.

Immediately, though, conservative Eeyores warned that the elimination of Obamacare might work to Barack Obama’s advantage in the general election because he would no longer have to defend the overwhelmingly unpopular law. While I never skewed to that view, I offer to conservative pessimists this hopeful thought: Maybe Barack Obama would be just stupid enough to take the advice of South Carolina Democrat Rep. James Clyburn and make an issue of Obamacare anyway …

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said President Obama should campaign against the Supreme Court, painting it as a conservative, activist institution if it rules that the administration’s healthcare law is unconstitutional.

“In terms of the Congress, I believe that it would be off-base for us to do that, but for the president, I don’t think it is,” Clyburn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday. “I think the president ought to take a look at what happened in years before, we’ve seen presidents run against Congress and we’ve seen presidents run against the Supreme Court. Franklin Roosevelt did it to the Supreme Court, [Harry] Truman did it to the Congress.” …

“I think the president will take a look at exactly what he needs to do to connect with the American people, let them know that he’s done everything he can possible do and ask them to give him a mandate for the years going forward,” Clyburn continued.

It’s true that a president can — and, in the case of FDR, did — campaign against the Supreme Court, but it truly would be a dumb decision to revive the issue of Obamacare when the American people are so solidly against the fourth entitlement program. It would merely call to mind that Obama — a legal scholar — forced through a massive health care overhaul that couldn’t pass constitutional muster. That’s a failure the president would surely prefer the American people to forget.

Until the Supreme Court issues its decision in June, though, this sort of speculation isn’t particularly fruitful. The Supremes might yet rule the individual mandate is constitutional. They might rule the mandate is unconstitutional, but decide that the mandate is severable and leave it to Congress to sort out how to render the rest of it workable. At this point, anxious opponents (or, for that matter, supporters) of Obamacare have nothing to do but wait.