Emery: Dems break spirit of law while passing law 

What happened to the victory lap President Barack Obama was supposed to be taking? What happened to the spike in the polls for both him and for health care, for his acclamation as being a man who could govern, and his party as being able to lead?

What happened to being allowed to “move on” once health care was done with? What happened to his coronation — as some bloggers had it — to being our cooler and new FDR?

Well, there was a small spike in the ratings, but it came from his base, who now “strongly approve” as opposed to being indifferent, but the independents who turned against him last summer are angry and not turning back.

He and health care are still underwater, and the ratings for health care itself are abysmal. He’s bleeding among the middle class that elected him and that the health care bill had been drawn to win over.

Outside his base, he polls less like FDR than like FDR Jr. He is tied for re-election with an unnamed Republican, and 54 percent of poll respondents think he won’t make it.

Far from being cowed, his opponents are pumped and the public supports them. A CBS poll said 62 percent of respondents want Republicans to go on fighting the measure. A Rasmussen poll said 55 percent want the act repealed altogether. It wasn’t supposed to work out in this manner. But work out in this manner it has.

To see why, let’s amble down memory lane to the autumn of 1973. Under siege and suspicion for illegal activities, President Richard M. Nixon was asked to turn over his infamous tapes to the Ervin Committee and Archibald Cox.

Nixon offered a written synopsis, which he would, of course, edit. Cox refused. Nixon decided the only way out of his quandary was firing Cox. He did (after two attorneys general resigned in defiance), and quite justly cooked his career.

It wasn’t illegal, but it was illegitimate, in that it violated the sense of the law, the spirit of justice and the sense of propriety that holds cultures together. Nixon was toast, and Robert Bork, who fired Cox in the spirit of duty, was tainted forever. People unmoved by Sen. Ted Kennedy’s rantings could not overcome their aversion to that.

The passage of health care is not the same thing as obstruction of justice, but it has a connection, in nature and kind. Before Sen. Scott Brown appeared, the bill, while unpopular, was headed on a legitimate path to enactment, by passing the House and the Senate, and going into a conference committee, after which the revised version would be sent for final affirmation to the Senate and House.

After Brown, this couldn’t occur as the Senate would kill it, so it had to sneak by — against the popular will and by bribes, threats and buy-offs — through a loophole for which bills of this import were intended. Big bills aren’t supposed to squeak by on a simple majority, and under proper procedure it would not have happened.

It followed the law while it shattered its intent. The whole country knows it’s a fraud.

As a result, it’s a “law” that the country feels little respect for, and feels morally free to resist. It’s is a law with an asterisk, a law with a stench, a law few regard as conclusive or binding.

Spit on the law and the public, and the public will seek ways to use law to deny you. This fire will burn a long time.

Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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