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Patrick Hruby

When He Strays

Six steps toward reconciliation for Chief Justice John Roberts and the Right
Attention, conservatives: We know it still hurts. Stings and shocks, really, like that cute, doe-eyed French actress suddenly shanking Batman in “The Dark Knight Rises,” an unexpected stab in Red America’s kidneys.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. …

Our guy! Everything’s cool.

… sides with the Supreme Court majority …

Wait — what’s that in his hand?

… and upholds the constitutionality of Obamacare.

And in goes the OWWW!

Yes, conservatives of all stripes — Rep. Paul Ryan to John Yoo to Rush Limbaugh to the angry blogger who called Chief Justice Roberts “at best, insane” — have a right to feel blindsided. Betrayed. Theatrically emotional.

Georgia Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey not wanting to drink a beer with Mr. Roberts? Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots thinking the Obamacare ruling will go down with Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott? Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence likening the ruling to 9/11?

Understood. Vent away. Let your feelings out.

But then, get over it.

A recent CBS News poll found that among self-identified conservatives, only 9 percent have a favorable view of Chief Justice Roberts; meanwhile, 13 percent of liberals give the justice a positive rating. Which is, to borrow a term, insane.

“Roberts has been like a reliable, if not terribly exciting boyfriend,” said Mindy Utay, a New York-based therapist and Huffington Post blogger. “You know you can count on him. He’s smart and steady, shows up on time, does what he says he’ll do.

“With the health care ruling, he’s suddenly like a fiance who makes out with your best friend at your engagement party in front of all your guests. Conservatives are both betrayed and embarrassed.”

Indeed. For faithful right-wingers, Chief Justice Roberts‘ switcheroo is basically akin to a romance gone wrong. Yet here’s the rub: He isn’t going anywhere. The man is 57, has a lifetime appointment and, ironically, a great government health plan. He’ll be rocking the black robes for a long, long time to come.

Consequently, you’re stuck in this marriage. So you need to forgive. Forget. Move on, already. Learn to love your once-beloved judicial umpire again, or at least stop editing Chief Justice Roberts‘ Wikipedia page to list him as the “17th Chief Traitor of the United States.”

With some help from actual relationship experts, here are six steps along the painful, yet necessary, road to reconciliation:

1. Get mad — but not even

You’re vigilant. Distrustful. Wondering if conservative talk radio host Michael Savage is right, and Chief Justice Roberts‘ epilepsy medication has resulted in “mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems.” Wondering if he is planning to vote against property rights and for abortion rights. Wondering if he’s parking a dinky hybrid in the Supreme Court lot — or maybe, just maybe, having dinner with Al Gore right now.

Relax. This is normal. Healthy, even. As long as it isn’t permanent.

“The trick is to really feel the hurt and the pain and get out what you need to get out, emotionally, so that you don’t let it fester and blow up at a later date,” said April Masini, author of the Ask April advice column and the book “Think & Date Like a Man.” “When you really process the pain and the betrayal, you can start the healing process and build new memories with your loved one. It’s not easy, but nothing good ever is.”

To wit: Mr. Pence tweeting that he felt like he lost “two friends” on the day of the ruling, “America and Justice Roberts“? Fine. But Mr. Pence subsequently making new friends with, say, Canada — the Great White North of socialized medicine — and Justice Elena Kagan?

No. No. A thousand times no.

In the chief justice’s case, Ms. Masini added, revenge is a dish best not served. Not when Obamacare isn’t about to repeal itself.

“If you’re considering a Democratic ticket in the November election as a way to show Roberts that nobody messes with you and walks away unscathed, reconsider,” she said. “It backfires, and while you may feel good about being an ass — I mean, donkey — you’ll ultimately be betraying yourself.”

2. Understand that you’re not alone

A few days after the Obamacare ruling, Mr. Yoo — a former high-level lawyer in the George W. Bush administration — told the Wall Street Journal that Chief Justice Roberts‘ surprising vote suggested a vetting failure, and that future Republican presidents nominating Supreme Court justices will simply “have to be more careful than the last.”

History suggests caution is not enough.

Partners cheat. Spouses step out. Politicians disappoint. Supremes can rule against their assumed partisan preferences. Chief Justice Warren Burger, a strict constructionist, sided with the majority in Roe v. Wade. Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted against granting President Clinton, the man who appointed her, immunity in the Paula Jones case. It happens.

“It’s important to realize that the person that betrayed you is not the worst person in the world,” Ms. Utay said. “There are others like him. That normalizes the experience. And misery loves company.”

Indeed: A key step toward healing is putting things in perspective. Ronald Reagan raised taxes. George W. Bush treated the federal budget like a wad of counterfeit cash in a strip club. Conservatism survived.

When Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute recently bemoaned that Republican Supreme Court picks Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter all turned out to be less-than-consistent conservatives, he was moving in the right direction. He would be even better-served listening to some liberal friends lament President Obama’s aggressive, extra-judicial drone strike campaign.

“Many times, sharing a betrayal results in a surprise admission that the person you’re sharing with has had a similar circumstance,” Ms. Masini said. “This gives both people a chance to feel that they’re not alone. You realize that someone else had this problem and didn’t die, or shrivel up and crawl into a hole.”

Read the full article at the Washington Times