The smartest president in history?

On Monday, during a Rose Garden news conference, President Obama challenged the Supreme Court's ability to strike down legislation passed by Congress. WIN MCNAMEE /Getty Images
On Monday, during a Rose Garden news conference, President Obama challenged the Supreme Court's ability to strike down legislation passed by Congress. WIN MCNAMEE /Getty Images
Posted: April 08, 2012

Despite 40 years of practicing law, I am no expert when it comes to arguing appeals. But I do know enough not to gratuitously insult and try to humiliate the appellate judges who will decide my client's case.

Apparently they don't teach those fundamentals at Harvard Law School. How else to explain the absolutely boneheaded attempts by President Obama, a past president of the Harvard Law Review, to intimidate the U.S. Supreme Court as it decides the constitutional fate of Obamacare?

Remember Obama's 2010 State of the Union address? On national television before the assembled Congress and the Supreme Court, the president took a pointless, ill-informed, and unfounded swipe at the court for its then-recent decision on campaign-finance laws.

And he did this when anyone who could see past his next meal knew that Obamacare, which was being shoved through the Congress, would ultimately wind up before that very same court.

As we used to say in the Organized Crime Strike Force, "That's smart, Freddo, really smart."

Then, two weeks ago, the long anticipated reckoning came when the court held three days of oral argument on Obamacare. The solicitor general - who argued that Obamacare was constitutional - mumbled, stumbled, and fumbled as he tried to turn chicken you-know-what into chicken salad palatable to a majority of the court. From the pointed questions asked and the vacuous answers given, he appears not to have succeeded.

Sensing trouble, the president followed up this disastrous performance by launching a thoroughly bizarre attack on the court.

In a public display of jaw-droppingly vast legal ignorance, Obama stunningly announced that it would be "unprecedented" for the "unelected" Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional an act passed by the "elected" Congress. On this basis, the president concluded that a court following legal precedent would not overturn Obamacare.

But, as anyone who has taken high school civics could tell him, for more than 200 years, the Supreme Court has with some regularity invalidated laws passed by Congress for violating the Constitution.

How could a president of the United States of America, of all people, not know something so basic about our system of government? Where has he been all these years? Kenya?

If the president, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, really believes that the Supreme Court can't strike down an act of Congress, then the reason for placing his college and law school records under seal comes into sharper focus. His student essays, term papers, and exams must contain some real howlers that would provide the late-night comics with years of material.

How can the so-called smartest president in history be so out of touch with human nature, common sense, and reality as to think that he can intimidate a coordinate branch of government - composed of judges with life tenure - by advancing such a baseless and preposterous argument as the one that he trumpeted to the media?

Now that the president has made a complete fool of himself in public, is it too much to ask that the mainstream media, at long last, begin to question and investigate his much-vaunted credentials as our Genius-in-Chief?

E-mail George Parry at

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