The United States government, for all its exasperating foibles and silliness, retains the capacity to surprise and even delight. Five years ago, who could have guessed that we would elect a centrist African-American president with a middle name of Hussein. Three years ago, who could have guessed that our deeply divided Congress would pass ambitious (albeit imperfect) legislation that moved us toward universal insurance, promoted healthcare quality, safety, and efficiency, and banned the worst offenses of the private insurance market… all in the midst of the most painful economic meltdown in a generation. And just yesterday, who could have guessed that this Supreme Court would uphold this law in a principled decision that largely steered clear of today’s puerile politics. The pundits and bloviators will have a field day dissecting what today’s ruling will mean in the “who’s up, who’s down” echo chamber that passes for news. For now, I can’t help but recall Churchill’s famous line about our national character: “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing… after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” Today, the Supreme Court – and particularly the Chief Justice – gave life to Churchill’s words.
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