Two days after the Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling on President Obama’s signature legislation, the president delivered his weekly radio address and didn’t utter one word about Obamacare or the ruling.
One day later, when asked by Chris Wallace whether Obamacare “must clear another hurdle in the November election” (which of course it must), Obama’s Chief of Staff Jack Lew replied, “You know, Chris, one thing that’s great about our system is that when the Supreme Court rules, we have a final answer.”
Lew’s words could hardly contrast more plainly with those of Abraham Lincoln, who in his First Inaugural Address said that “the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”
Lew then fancifully added, “I think the thing that the American people want is for the divisive debate on health care to stop.”
These examples show how much Obama wants his centerpiece legislation to be a central part of the campaign — which is about all one needs to know about how much Mitt Romney should want it to be a central part of the campaign.
Indeed, a Newsweek/Daily Beast poll, taken after the ruling, asked whether likely voters approve or disapprove of Obama’s handling of “the economy,” “foreign policy,” “health care,” “the federal budget deficit,” and “creating jobs.” Of these headline issues, Obama gets by far the worst ratings on health care. Take a look:
Obama’s net approval rating by issue:
Health care: minus-21 points (37 percent approve, 58 percent disapprove)
The deficit: minus-10 points (44 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove)
“Creating jobs”: minus-6 points (46 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove)
The economy: minus-2 points (47 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove)
Foreign policy: +1 point (48 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove)
What’s more, 44 percent of likely voters “strongly disapprove” of Obama’s handling of health care — higher than on any other issue. When almost half of the citizenry strongly disapproves of your handling of the issue that you’ve chosen to make the focal point of your presidency, you shouldn’t be able to get reelected.
In terms of policy, Obamacare is probably the worst legislation in American history. Constitutionally, it’s highly suspect. Politically, it’s a hanging curveball waiting to be hit out of the park. Now all that remains is for Romney to step up to the plate — repeatedly — and take his swings, while Obama is left having to hope that his challenger will stay in the dugout.