For a former professor of constitutional law, President Obama showed surprisingly little respect this week for the system of government laid out in the Constitution.
For a student of history, he showed surprisingly little knowledge of the American public's faith in the nation's highest court.
Obama's shockingly naked bid to browbeat the U.S. Supreme Court into upholding the constitutionality of his controversial health reform plan fell flat. By Thursday the administration was forced to concede that "the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute."
This was a loser for Obama from the get-go.
During remarks on Monday, he had said it "would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step" by the high court to overturn all or part of the 2011 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Among the most controversial provisions of the legislation is the mandate that every American have some type of health insurance coverage.
He and members of his team spent the rest of the week backing away from what appeared a blatant attempt to intimidate the justices. They won't issue their ruling until June, but it was clear from the questioning during last week's oral arguments that some have serious reservations about the law.
Before making his comments, Obama might have reflected on the fate of one of his predecessors, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose effort to increase the number of Supreme Court justices in order to protect his New Deal programs, went down in flames. Despite the popularity of the president and his efforts to end the Great Depression, in the end public opinion overwhelmingly favored maintaining the independence of the nation's highest court.
FDR was forced to back down and it appears Obama, wisely, has done the same.