After erstwhile team player Chief Justice John Roberts led the Supreme Court in upholding the Affordable Care Act, Fox News has spent the day trying to convince themselves, if not the rest of us, that this is excellent news for Republicans and Mitt Romney -- to the point of arguing that President Obama's "cynical" political team would have preferred the law be struck down entirely so the whole issue would just "go away."
A little while ago, Megyn Kelly sat down to talk with Chris Stirewalt, Fox News digital politics editor, about the electoral implications of the Supreme Court ruling. Stirewalt argued -- in all seriousness -- that President Obama's re-election team in Chicago were pulling for a full repeal.
STIREWALT: I can sum it up this way: at the White House, it's a good day. The president's probably very happy that he was vindicated by the Supreme Court. But out in Chicago, at the president's campaign headquarters, this can not have been the happiest news. I'm sure, from a cynical political perspective, they much rather would have had this issue go away and the Supreme Court take it down so the president could go rally the troops. Instead, it's Romney's troops who are rallied.
This is a real stretch, and here's Nate Silver of the New York Times explaining why:
It is not as though, if the law had been struck down, Republicans would have stopped talking about the folly of the legislation. Members of the public, in mostly opposing the law, had not been objecting to its technical details, some of which they actually supported when quizzed about the specific aspects of the health care overhaul.
Instead, it was to the impression that it represented an overreach on behalf of Mr. Obama -- at a time when there is profound skepticism about the direction of government and the efficacy of its policy -- that left him vulnerable.
When the dust settles, it seems implausible that Mr. Obama would be have been better off politically had his signature reform been nullified by the court. Then Mr. Obama's perceived overreach would have had the stench of being unconstitutional.
Stirewalt's analysis is, thus far, the absurd apex of Fox News' health care coverage today. It was preceded by a parade of GOP officials chest-thumping about how they're so angry and energized now, fond reminiscence of the heady days of 2010 when shaky-cam videos of barely coherent tea partiers screaming at Democrats were all the rage, and endless repetitions of the word "tax" (in accordance with Republican messaging).