Five Best Friday Columns
George Will on the conservative court victory, Jonathan Chait on Roberts's long game, Peggy Noonan on Obama's good day, Jack Shafer on CNN's screw-up, and Jeffrey Goldberg on work-life balance.
George Will in The Washington Post on the conservative victory Though the Supreme Court found President Obama's health care law constitutional, Will suggests conservatives have reason to celebrate the decision. "[T]he conservative legal insurgency against Obamacare has won a huge victory for the long haul," he writes. "This victory will help revive a venerable tradition of America's political culture, that of viewing congressional actions with a skeptical constitutional squint, searching for congruence with the Constitution's architecture of enumerated powers." That's because the majority invalidated the liberal argument for the individual mandate even while allowing the mandate itself to stand. Generally, Will says, the public will pay attention to the idea of limited Congressional power to a greater degree than usual.
Jonathan Chait in New York on Justice Roberts' long game Chait makes a case similar to Will's, but from the liberal perspective. By invalidating the commerce clause argument, Roberts's interpretation of the commerce clause helps his court "interpret the Constitution to require right-wing economic policy," Chait says. "What he is not willing to do is to impose his vision in one sudden and transparently partisan attack. Roberts is playing a long game." Still, his decision has upheld the court's legitimacy. "I have rarely felt so relieved."
Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on Obama's good day Noonan scores Thursday's decision and its political implications for the presidential candidates. Obama avoided catastrophe, she says, and his speech showed unusual modesty. "It was pretty good stuff, meaning shrewdly put, politically astute, and delivered with the august halls of the White House sparkling in the background," she writes. "The president had a good day, the first in a long time, in months." Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is challenged with capitalizing on the moment and his base's renewed energy. "The race is not remade, that would be saying too much. But there's a new dynamic now: Mr. Obama got a break."
Jack Shafer in Reuters on Fox and CNN's bad reports Shafer, meanwhile, revisits Fox News' and CNN's embarrassing first reports that the individual mandate had been overturned. The fact that many news organizations pre-write several contingency versions (as the Chicago Sun-Times accidentally revealed) was probably partially responsible for their mistakes. "Stop smirking, it could happen to you, buster. And the right thing to do when it happens to you (or you happen to it, which is a better description) is to do what CNN did: Publish a prompt and unequivocal correction. Fox, on the other hand, issued a statement claiming that its rolling, on-air update sufficed to correct the record, even if the error appeared in a Chyron."
Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on work-life balance On an utterly different note, Goldberg reacts to the cover story in his own (and our own) magazine, The Atlantic's "Why Women Can't Have it All," by Anne-Marie Slaughter, writing "Slaughter only nods in the direction of a few points I think she could address more deeply." The first is that "men, too, are tortured by the lack of time at home," and that there are many jobs that simply can't be done well without some sacrifice. And second, Slaughter's article focuses on her own dilemma even though she works to advance women's rights in countries where mothers aren't afforded the luxuries of such work-life challenges. But there Slaughter makes good points. She tells Goldberg, "Indeed, I say something about that in the piece in terms of how our [foreign policy] leaders will think about the impact of their decisions if they are fully engaged with family life at home."