Mona Charen
This column is being written in the midst of a power outage that has reduced many parts of the mid-Atlantic to primitive conditions. I have no right to complain. We installed a small generator after the last big power failure ("Snowmageddon") and at least have been able to sleep in air-conditioned comfort. We sincerely pity the million-plus people in our area and surrounding states who are coping with 95-plus temperatures and no power at all.

So while we are definitely among the lucky ones, the "derecho" outage has managed to short-circuit our 21st century lives anyway. Only the bedrooms are cool. The phones, Internet and televisions are dark. Even cellphones didn't function for 24 hours. Gas stations are closed. Supermarkets are dark and selling only nonperishable items. If you want meat, vegetables, eggs or milk, you'll need to drive another half hour.

The Wall Street Journal wasn't delivered, and reading the Washington Post by itself is like choking down medicine, especially in an election year. The dog is very sick, and we cannot contact the vet because the phones are dead. (Update: Dog is in veterinary emergency hospital, which thankfully does have power.)

Why does the nation's capital go through this convulsion so very often? People who live in other great cities report that they have seen decades go by without significant power outages. I've heard that they have trees, too. What is it about Washington? We gave Baghdad freedom and got their power grid in exchange? It's been four days, and they're saying it may be seven before power is restored. At the very least, we should be asking how much of an investment it would be to bury all the power lines. I would certainly prefer to spend precious tax dollars on that rather than on Obamacare.

Speaking of Obamacare, there's a theme among some commentators that Chief Justice John Roberts achieved a brilliant, John Marshall-esque long-term victory for conservatives. Don't fret, they soothe. Roberts is playing chess while we're all playing checkers. Just wait till he votes next term to overturn affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act.

Not so fast. If forced to choose between a correct vote on affirmative action and on Obamacare, I would have chosen the latter (and believed I could rely on Roberts for both). There will be many more opportunities to overturn affirmative action. But Obamacare was arguably much more important to the success of self-government. Affirmative action is morally wrong. But it won't bankrupt us, and it doesn't expand the reach of the federal government.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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