Without warning, as U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was presenting the Obama Administration’s oral argument to the Supreme Court, one of the more ardent anti-broccoli justices, Antonin Scalia, adopted a mocking tone when he made the comparison between the health care market and the grocery market: “Could you define the market? Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore you can make people buy broccoli?” At this point Mr. Verrilli coughed, sipped water and tried to explain without even a hint of a G.W. Bush accent, “It is not a market in which you often don’t know before you go in what you need, and it is not a market in which, if you go in and (cough, stammer) and seek to obtain a product or service, you will get it even if you can’t pay for it.”
Back at the White House, in the secret area where cameras and other recording devices never venture, it is highly likely that at this particular juncture in the oral arguments, a man who has an ongoing battle with nicotine could be heard operating the presidential Zippo. Who could blame him? After decades of hard legislative struggle, followed by the rarely seen alignment of single-party rule of both houses of Congress and the presidency, someone had to bring up broccoli, the dreaded kryptonite of American politics.
Fortunately, the game is not over. Americans have collectively come to understand broccoli on a much higher level than they did in the early 1960s or 1990s. These days the harsh-tasting vegetable is known to possess medicinal qualities, and co-op clubs comprised of like-minded individuals devoted to the green plant have cropped up all across the nation. Using high-powered blenders, chocolate, creamy butter and other tasty flavorings, broccoli can now be found in all types of wonderful snacks, including taffy and popcorn. Today, many Americans just like to mellow out after a hard day of work, or work-search by kicking back in front of the television with a bowl of wholesome goodness that they hardly even realize is actually loaded with broccoli.
Unfortunately, the ingrained prejudice against broccoli still persists in large segments of the American populace, and not even large globs of the best government cheese in the world will appease these people in their quest to remain free of broccoli. They can be heard saying things like, “Sure, I love cheese. I mean, what kind of red-blooded American doesn’t like cheese, especially when it’s on nachos at a baseball game? But somebody has to pay for that cheese, and it ain’t gonna be me, no sir, not if it’s going to be on somebody else’s nachos. And I sure as hell ain’t paying for it if it’s going to be on broccoli.”
In the meantime, between now and the Supreme Court’s final ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, it could be time for heavyweights to get creative in the subtle art of Chicago-style backroom persuasion. However, it currently doesn’t appear as if Las Vegas is going to make it interesting by issuing any exotic propositions on the matter. What’s the over/under on broken kneecaps to be issued by the new butch softball playing justice from the Upper West Side? Will Justice Thomas find anything unusual in his Coca Cola? How many from the anti-broccoli camp will make it to the finish line? No one knows, and the only thing certain about it is that you won’t be able to bet on it, at least not in the state of Nevada.
Everyone knows that all is fair in love, war and when there is a Presidential Election in the balance. This is why it is obvious that the president is surrounded by incompetent assistants. Dick Cheney just got a new heart yet no one has noticed that the battery-powered battery designed to provide unlimited green energy should have been here a few days ago. Instead of focusing on broccoli, maybe someone should check Cheney’s X-rays, the mailroom or the UPS tracking system.
Michael Patrick is a freelance writer from Reno. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.