The day before the Supreme Court announced the Obamacare decision, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne demanded the resignation of Justice Antonin Scalia. "Justice Antonin Scalia needs to resign from the Supreme Court," Dionne wrote.
But when asked about the demand for his resignation by the liberal columnist on C-SPAN, Scalia asked, "Who?"
"Oh," Scalia said when the C-SPAN told him. "I don't know that."
C-SPAN: "Were you surprised at the reaction after you mentioned President Obama in your remarks at the -- on the day -- the last decision on the Arizona decision when E. J. Dionne said you ought to resign."
C-SPAN: "A columnist for the Washington Post."
SCALIA: "Oh. I don't know that. I was surprised that anyone would have thought that the purpose for which I used the president's statement -- and did not criticize the president's statement, in fact I said it might be right. "
My specific concern is nothing original: it’s just the national debt. Yawn and turn the page here if you’d like. We talk now of trillions, not yesterday’s hundreds of billions. It’s not Obama’s fault. He did what he had to do. However, Obama is president, and Democrats do control Congress. So it’s their responsibility, even if it’s not their fault. And no one in a position to act has proposed a realistic way out of this debt, not even in theory. The Republicans haven’t. The Obama administration hasn’t. Come to think of it, even Paul Krugman hasn’t. Presidential adviser David Axelrod, writing in The Washington Post, says that Obama has instructed his agency heads to go through the budget “page by page, line by line, to eliminate what we don’t need to help pay for what we do.” So they’ve had more than a year and haven’t yet discovered the line in the budget reading “Stuff We Don’t Need, $3.2 trillion.”
A recent Kaiser poll is filled with interesting numbers. It found support for health care reform split, with 43 percent pro and 43 percent con. It found that only 34 percent of respondents believed the current legislation would better their condition. Only 32 percent said they wanted Congress to pass comprehensive legislation quickly. Twenty-two percent want health care to be put on hold until later this year. Nineteen percent want the topic to be dropped altogether. Do the math.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg writes today that he penned a memo to Democrats in May 1994 warning that “The administration, the Democrats in Congress and the party face a disaster in November unless we move urgently to change the mood of the country.” But he goes on to say that, "even then, I couldn’t imagine that Democrats would exacerbate the disaster, ending their decades of hegemony in the House."
This was one of the best national political debates in many years. Citizens who watched the event were impressed, by many accounts. Journalists and commentators immediately responded by continuing the conversation of the ideas put forward by the president and his opponents — even the cable news cycle was disrupted for a day.
America could use more of this — an unfettered and public airing of political differences by our elected representatives. So we call on President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader John Boehner to hold these sessions regularly — and allow them to be broadcast and webcast live and without commercial interruption, sponsorship or intermediaries.
The White House seems eager to repeat the Baltimore experience with the Senate Republicans. But before we go about institutionalizing an American version of question time, let's consider a few things:
(1) America is not a parliamentary democracy. The president is half-king, half prime-minister. He is separate from and coequal to the Congress. The Constitution stipulates only that he make an annual report to the Congress. He does not have to make an overly long televised speech that serves to buck up partisans and set the agenda for the year. He does not have to regularly submit to questions from his opponents. Why?