REMIND ME AGAIN: HOW HAS BEING HATED HURT ALL THOSE OTHER POWERFUL INSTITUTIONS?
I'm really getting tired of this lament:
Before this week, the well-being of tens of millions of Americans was at stake in the lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act.
Now something else is at stake, too: The legitimacy of the Supreme Court....
Virtually everybody agrees that a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act would be five to four -- a bare majority. And it would be a bare partisan majority, with the five Republican appointees overruling the four Democratic appointees. The decision would appear nakedly partisan and utterly devoid of principle. Appearances would not be deceiving....
The words are Jonathan Cohn's, and they appear under the heading "If the Supreme Court Strikes Down the Affordable Care Act, the Conservative Justices Will Do Lasting Damage to the Institution's Legitimacy."
Which would matter a lot, I suppose, if we lived in a society where the key players in hated institutions actually suffered as a result of the hate. But we don't.
Try to think of a despised American institution. Did I hear you say "Congress"? Excellent choice: according to the Real Clear Politics averages, Congress's job approval rating is 12.4% and its disapproval rating is 80.8%. It wasn't much better around Election Day in 2010 -- fewer than 20% of Americans approved of Congress's job performance.
So how did that translate at the polls? Well, 85% of House members and 84% of Senate members were reelected in 2010. That's down from previous years, but it's still sky-high.
Gallup's "Confidence in Institutions" survey shows dreadful numbers for banks, and for big business in general. Notice those guys suffering? The Wall Streeters whine as if they're suffering, but mostly what they say when they whine is, in effect, "We want all the money and respect!"
That's pretty much what we may hear from the Supremes, or at least from the chief justice. Cohn mentions John Roberts's "frequently professed concern for the court's respectability." But he seems to be oblivious to the fact that he's lost that already. (As I've noted before, a recent Bloomberg poll showed that 75% of Americans expect the Court to issue a health care ruling based on political concerns.) The actual rulings show no signs of circumspection -- Roberts apparently wants your respect in spite of those rulings.
Until we Americans start actually finding ways to hurt powerful people we despise, it's going to continue to be good to be the hated king.