Ed wrote the following in a specific and limited context, but it really applies to more than just Iowa and one Supreme Court Justice:
Most likely Iowa Caucus-goers don’t have law degrees, and certainly have no way of appreciating how marginal—some would say ludicrous—the plaintiffs’ case in King v. Burwell really was. All they know is that [Chief Justice] John Roberts twice had the opportunity to kill or disable a health care law that they’ve been told for years is one of the most blatantly unconstitutional acts of villainous tyranny in U.S. history, and twice sided with the tyrants.
Watching the Republican Party and their mighty right-wing media wurlitzer operate in the years since Barack Obama was elected president, I have come to use a few recurring adjectives, analogies, and phrases to describe their behavior. One of them is “heat-fever.”
I use the word because a fever is something that comes over you suddenly, causing addled thinking, hallucinations and other delusions, but which eventually breaks and goes away as quickly as it arrived. There are many constants on the right, but the Obama Era has been marked by an unusual number of these outbreaks of mass insanity.
As I was trying to get my bearings this morning after a week-long vacation, I came across a piece at First Read that endeavored to break the huge Republican field of presidential candidates into different brackets depending on whether they are stronger in Iowa or New Hampshire. What immediately struck me, however, is that most of these candidates can be understood by or associated with one or another of these heat-fever dreams.
Donald Trump obviously got caught up in the birth certificate madness. Ben Carson emerged as a health care lunatic. Rand Paul led a pseudo-filibuster based on the premise that the government will soon be launching drone-attacks against Starbucks patrons. Others, like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Perry seemed to succumb to each fever in turn.
The Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell was really like a very effective medicine that cured a fever that nothing else seemed capable of addressing. Ed called the case “ludicrous,” which it was. But so was the entire fight against Obamacare. Sure, on the surface it was at least about something a lot more substantive than the president’s long-form birth certificate, but the way the right went about mustering their troops against the health care reforms was basically identical to the way they went about raising doubt about the president’s place of birth.
I remember reading countless statements from Republican officeholders about the administration’s need to create a contingency plan in case they lost the King v. Burwell suit. It was so emblematic of the delusions they were laboring under. There was never any chance that they would prevail at the Supreme Court and what’s remarkable is that they got any votes at all. When the ruling came down, they all woke up from the dream.
But they’re behaving just like someone who wakes up from a particularly vivid dream and needs some time to sort through what is real and what was just their subconscious imagination. It’s like, “Oh, good, I didn’t really show up for my final exams wearing nothing but my birthday suit.”
Except, somehow, they thought it would be a good idea to show up for finals buck naked.
It’s hard to be patient with a political movement that needs to be constantly reminded that they’re basically operating as if they’re in a walking sleep. We have to remain ever-vigilant that they don’t take the country and wander into traffic.