Which is by way of saying that news from the imperial metropolis has reached me in fits and starts. The other morning it was the intriguing tidbit that Chief Justice John Roberts had written both the majority opinion in the Obamacare decision and the dissent. He is literally his own worst enemy. He’s apparently the Mike Myers of the Supreme Court, able to play both Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, although it has to be said that he seems rather more at home as the bumbling swinger. If I understand correctly, the chief justice wrote the dissent back when it was the 5–4 majority opinion, and then, after switching sides, wrote the new majority opinion, and the four guys left holding the old majority opinion decided to leave it as is, presumably as a way of not so subtly underlining their total contempt for their squishy chief. Fascinating stuff, I’m sure. An enterprising legal scholar should pitch it to Paramount as a high-school musical or a particularly dysfunctional reality show.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, East Coast municipalities were canceling Fourth of July celebrations because of lack of electricity. In a novel, this would be rather too obviously symbolic of the hyperpower at twilight, but truth is crasser than art. So we had the spectacle of Martin O’Malley, governor of Maryland, turning up on CBS’s Face the Nation last Sunday as part of his not-so-subtle campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Across Montgomery County, his delirious constituents would have cheered, “President O’Malley? There’s the answer to our nation’s woes!” — except that their TVs weren’t working, so they never saw him. Unless they jumped in their Chevy Volts and drove to . . . oh, no, wait.