There was the following sentence in June 29 issue of Time magazine titled “Roberts Rules: What the health care decision means for the country” dealing with Chief Justice of Supreme Court, John Roberts’ ruling to go forward with so-called "Obamacare."
“The fact that Roberts had to squirm like Houdini to reach middle ground only enhanced the bravura of the feat. As the saying goes, it’s one thing to dance like Fred Astaire, but Ginger Rogers did it backwards in high heels. Philosophical purity is easy — the blogosphere is lousy with it — while pragmatic solutions to difficult problems are as rare these days as virgins on Jersey Shore."
The sentence is full of metaphoric (and nostalgic) proper nouns such as Houdini, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Jersey Shore, whose meanings are difficult for non-Americans to decipher at first glance.
I’m still not clear with what “It’s one thing to dance like Fred Astaire, but Ginger Rogers did it backwards in high heels,” exactly means in specific reference to the Chief Justice‘s rules.
I guess the author is likening Ginger Rogers’s backwards steps to Mr. Roberts’ unexpected, but critical turn in upholding the Obamacare at 4-4 split votes. If we eliminate all proper nouns from this sentence, how can we paraphrase this line?
The author says ‘As the saying goes.” Is “It’s one thing to dance like Fred Astaire, but Ginger Rogers did it backwards in high heels,” a popular expression?
I know Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as a septuagenarian, but do today’s youth remember them and use this phrase in their conversation by saying ‘as the saying goes’?