Keith Knight, in (Th)ink, brings up what seems like an obvious contradiction. Or paradox. Or simple case of hypocrisy. Joel Pett elaborates on the theme, taking it out of the courtroom and into the streets, or, at least, onto the steps of the courthouse.
Most commentators seemed to have locked on to the broccoli thing, with NPR even doing a piece on how the remarks about mandated broccoli may boost sales of the vegetable. At least NPR did it as a brite among their more serious examinations of the actual legal arguments. For other outlets, it was the main dish.
There is this to be said about the broccoli argument: The GOP had previously advanced a plan in which people would be required to buy health insurance, but exactly what type and level was not specified. So the point of the broccoli mandate objection, it could be argued, is not to the idea of requiring everyone to buy food, but to saying precisely what kind of food they can purchase.
Leaving the mandate in place but requiring that it be more flexible as to the available options.
But I haven't heard anyone advance that argument and few people have paid a lot of attention to Obama's pointing out that the Republicans originally favored universal health care. Even "Romneycare" is seemingly being swept away as a youthful indiscretion.
What Keef and Pett touch upon is the more critical, overarching issue of control, and how the self-proclaimed champions of freedom change the slogan at will from "Four legs good, two legs bad" to "Four legs good, two legs better" and back again, while their compliant sheep bleat along with whatever is posted on the wall at the moment.
We love our nation except when it makes actual demands upon us. And we despise disloyalty.
I was struck by this the other day because New Hampshire, having elected a lot of Tea Party candidates in the 2010 elections, now finds its legislature swamped with nuisance bills, bits of ideological nonsense most of which will not stick but some of which might.
One of them proposes a law that requires children to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
It's been pointed out that the Supreme Court has safeguarded the right of people not to participate in the Pledge, but apparently sitting quietly will be outlawed. At which point only outlaws will sit quietly. Good children who hate freedom and America and God will have to stand quietly.
Granted, American flag fetishism is an odd thing to begin with. We recoil in horror at Muslims who find depictions of the Prophet offensive, and lump them all in with the extreme fundamentalists who become violent when the Prophet is not only depicted but openly mocked.
And yet that same "kill them all and let God sort them out" crowd has no problem with amending the Constitution to criminalize insults to the flag.
That's an old story: "How canst thou say to thy brother, 'Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye,' when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
Still, you would think there would be a divide between those who most feverishly worship the national flag and those who most insistently proclaim the sovereignty of the states.
But how many of these little kids who are being required to stand each day and pledge allegiance to the flag, and to the republic for which it stands, will go without health coverage because the same people who demand a daily oath of fealty also insist that the federal government oversteps its bounds when it moves to give them something back?
All of which reminds me of how Mr. Dooley explained the war in the Philippines a century ago:
"Whin we plant what Hogan calls th' starry banner iv Freedom in th' Ph'lippeens," said Mr. Dooley, "an' give th' sacred blessin' iv liberty to the poor, down-trodden people iv thim unfortunate isles,—dam thim!—we'll larn thim a lesson."
"Sure," said Mr. Hennessy, sadly, "we have a thing or two to larn oursilves."
"But it isn't f'r thim to larn us," said Mr. Dooley. "'Tis not f'r thim wretched an' degraded crathers, without a mind or a shirt iv their own, f'r to give lessons in politeness an' liberty to a nation that mannyfacthers more dhressed beef than anny other imperyal nation in th' wurruld. We say to thim: 'Naygurs,' we say, 'poor, dissolute, uncovered wretches,' says we, 'whin th' crool hand iv Spain forged man'cles f'r ye'er limbs, as Hogan says, who was it crossed th' say an' sthruck off th' comealongs? We did,—by dad, we did. An' now, ye mis'rable, childish-minded apes, we propose f'r to larn ye th' uses iv liberty. In ivry city in this unfair land we will erect school-houses an' packin' houses an' houses iv correction; an' we'll larn ye our language, because 'tis aisier to larn ye ours than to larn oursilves yours. An' we'll give ye clothes, if ye pay f'r thim; an', if ye don't, ye can go without. An', whin ye're hungry, ye can go to th' morgue—we mane th' resth'rant—an' ate a good square meal iv ar-rmy beef. An' we'll sind th' gr-reat Gin'ral Eagan over f'r to larn ye etiquette, an' Andhrew Carnegie to larn ye pathriteism with blow-holes into it, an' Gin'ral Alger to larn ye to hould onto a job; an', whin ye've become edycated an' have all th' blessin's iv civilization that we don't want, that 'll count ye one. We can't give ye anny votes, because we haven't more thin enough to go round now; but we'll threat ye th' way a father shud threat his childher if we have to break ivry bone in ye'er bodies. So come to our ar-rms,' says we.