When Solicitor General of the United States Donald B. Verrilli Jr. suffered an episode of Ankyloglossia (aka tongue tied) during his historically inept presentation before the Supreme Court attempting to defend the indefensible -- Obamacare, it just might have doomed the Government's chances of victory. If (or when) the Court strikes it down, the decision is expected to be announced in late June, Verrilli should get his fair share of the credit but Obamacare opponents should be most grateful to Verrilli’s immediate Boss – Attorney General Eric Holder.
It was AG Holder that selected Verrilli to argue the administration’s case for the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and it was the AG and his staff that “prepared” him for the task. Hence, the AG should be hailed as a Conservative Hero for his selecting and preparing the Government’s “legal representative” who is probably the second most gaff prone Democrat in Washington – second to only the “Gaffmister” himself, VP Joe “Five-Deferment” Biden (see previous Bolg articles below: 9 Oct 10 - Joe Biden - The Consummate Gaff-mister and Some of My Favorite “Biden-isms” and 23 Oct 11 - Biden Ties President's Washington Post Four Pinocchios with "Absurd Claims About rising Rape & Murder Rates").
For Liberals, selecting Verrilli was probably AG Holder’s worst lapse of judgment since at least his approving shipping arms to Mexican drug cartels in “Operation Fast and Furious” and maybe even as far back as his recommending to President Clinton that he Pardon International Fugitive Marc Rich on his last day in office.
One thing AG Holder can be thankful for is that the Court did NOT permit C-SPAN to stream live video of the proceeding because the court released audio was bad enough. It was during the second day of proceedings, the day dedicated to debating the constitutionality of the individual mandate, where Verrilli really excelled! He started out by repeatedly pausing, excusing himself and generally appearing lost during his presentation – then things really began going down hill! It was truly painful to hear but watching it was reportedly excruciating.
As a matter of fact, Verrilli performed so poorly in defending the individual mandate that the liberal justices continually interrupted him to help him make his case by beginning their comments with “what I really think you mean to say,” thus underscoring how badly he was struggling to make his case. The obvious question neither Verrilli nor his handlers appear to have ever considered or prepared him to answer was: What is the limiting principle to the Government’s power to interfere into the private affairs of a citizen? The credit for that oversight falls right at the feet of AG Holder!
Now none of this should detract from the brilliant performance of Paul Clement who was representing the 26 states opposing the law but in defense of Verrilli, it’s tough for any advocate to compare well to him in a courtroom, especially when your argument is so weak on the merits. Also, unlike Verrilli, Clement was able to make his arguments without any "assistance" from "friendly" Justices. Any sane liberal or conservative would have to admit that Clement is just about the best in the business — one of the great oral advocates of all times – the William Jennings Bryant of our generation -- and he delivered a slam-dunk performance.
The Court won’t rule solely based on Verrilli’s dubious oratory skills but having both sides in a position to claim credit for overturning Obamacare will be a novel outcome. Clements for his superb arguments while Holder’s and Verrilli’s contributions will be because of an inept presentation and a complete lack of preparation. But among Attorney Clement, Attorney General Holder and Solicitor General Verrilli, Holder deserves the lion’s share of the credit because he was the one that sent Verrilli into a fight with a knife when Clement had a gun!