National Review: supreme court "pretended" mandate was constitutional

As a Brit in the US, I landed on a left-leaning limb of the tree. This is not unusual—our conservatives are often more liberal than your liberals, after all. That said, I often found myself enjoying conservative writing on this side of the pond. Especially The National Review.

NR offered a pleasing critical distance, a political culture suffused with observational subtleties and literary aspirations. Reactionary waves broke often over the sandcastles of reason, but this only enhanced its charm, at least for this foreigner.

By the time of Obama's election, however, the charm had worn off. As political failure sank in, sententious contempt oozed out. When Christopher Buckley endorsed the Democrat and was canned for apostasy, an editor there called him "cretinous". (Added Buckley: "I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.")

It only got worse. At one point, editor Rich Lowry wrote a shamelessly infantile mash note for Sarah Palin, a posting whose power to amuse will only grow as the seasons pass. By the time one contributor's racist screeds forced it to fire him, the Review's post announcing his departure was notable mostly for its regretful tone, clouded further by his colleagues' unendurable handwringing over it.

Still, I'd often find myself back there for one reason or another (i.e. Jonah Goldberg). Every time, I'd putter around only to chance across something hot, and want to leap on it and write this very post: "This is why I had to stop reading these scoundrels!" But the urge would always pass, because it hardly matters.

Today, however, a single word finally gets it out of me. In the wake of today's Supreme Court ruling upholding The Affordable Care Act's insurance mandates, The Review offered a collective editorial that began like so:

The Court, by a 5–4 margin, refused to join all the august legal experts who insisted that of course it granted that authorization, that only yahoos and Republican partisans could possibly doubt it. It then pretended that this requirement is constitutional anyway, because it is merely an application of the taxing authority. Rarely has the maxim that the power to tax is the power to destroy been so apt, a portion of liberty being the direct object in this case.

Now, leave aside the magical thinking here, as if it were enough to stock a sentence with certain words for it to attain salience. Instead, let me just repeat the key phrase in it, to make it clear.

The supreme court pretended that the requirement is constitutional.

They pretended.

This is American conservatism's immune system going into anaphylactic shock. Fun to watch, while it lasts!