Georgetown Law Forum Examines Election 2012

March 28, 2012 — In a week of historic oral arguments that will help decide the fate of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court, a group of political experts convened at Georgetown Law on March 27 to discuss the impact of the health care challenge on the 2012 presidential election.

“Today is an astonishing day to have this panel,” said CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, referring to the arguments by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. and Adjunct Professor Paul Clement on the individual mandate earlier in the day. “No matter who wins or loses in this case, it’s going to have a huge political impact.”

To explore just what that impact might be, Borger — acting as moderator — gleaned the thoughts of Professor E.J. Dionne of Georgetown’s Public Policy Institute; Pulitzer Prize-winning political commentator Charles Krauthammer; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR; Joe Klein, political columnist for Time; and Henry Olsen, director of American Enterprise Institute’s National Research Initiative.

“Lee Atwater … the former chair of the Republican National Committee, once said that if David had lost to Goliath, we wouldn’t talk about David very much,” observed Dionne, who agreed with Klein that it would be a significant loss to the president if the law were struck down by the court.

Krauthammer also agreed that it would be a blow to the prestige of the president if the law were overturned. “[The critique would be], he spent a year and a half on this when he should have been doing the economy and other stuff,” he said.

The health care challenge wasn’t the only issue on the table; the forum dissected the Republican campaign itself.

“This election so far has been marked by an extreme gap between the size of the problems and the size of the solutions that are being offered,” Liasson said. “Big problems and tiny little solutions — or none at all.”

The Georgetown Law Forum was sponsored by the Office of Admissions and the Georgetown Law student ambassadors. In attendance were admitted students who — to paraphrase the introductory remarks of Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor and Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt — got a taste of the exciting legal and political atmosphere awaiting them at the Law Center.

“This is the place where law and government are connected in a way that no other law school can offer,” Treanor said.

-- Ann W. Parks

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