Suzanne Fields

Souter & Specter sounds like a vaudeville song and dance team, stuck in Cleveland and still dreaming of playing the Palace. You can almost hear their Peoria humor and see their old soft shoe.

"Did you hear the one about how John Sununu was dispatched by the original President Bush to find a slugger who would hit home runs for the conservative side on the Supreme Court," asks Justice David Souter. He executes a neat heel, toe and a tap, and grins a goofy grin. "Well, here I am. Nothing but foul balls and long fly balls to left field. Ain't I a scream?"

Arlen Specter shuffles over with syncopated stomp. "When I switched to the Democrats, all my Republican pals could do was quote Dorothy Parker on hearing that Calvin Coolidge was dead: 'How can they tell?'" Ha, ha, ha.

David Souter and Arlen Specter have little in common except drawing conservative ire and sharing in a triumph of intellectual mediocrity. Only the confluence of events has thrown them together in the public eye. Justice Souter reminds everyone of how a conservative president misjudged him, and Sen. Specter reminds everyone of how easy he trades in his convictions for a mess of Democratic pottage (or maybe a pot of message).

A contributor to Vanity Fair suggests that President Obama replace Souter with Anita Hill, a law professor at Brandeis University. For those who were born yesterday or ignorant of events of more than a year or so in the past, Anita Hill was the woman who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment when the Senate was considering his confirmation to the high court. The drama was the low point (so far) of feminist sniping and congressional griping, a televised spectacle in which Specter played a leading role.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had already reported the Thomas nomination to the Senate when Anita Hill's accusations surfaced, and she was summoned as a witness before a special hearing of the Judiciary Committee. The committee wanted to find out whether she was lying. Sen. Specter, in an uncharacteristic tribute to principle, rose to the occasion with a passionate concern for the integrity and reputation of Clarence Thomas. A one-time federal prosecutor, he demanded the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He was unrelenting with tough questioning of the accuser; a man's character and career hung in the balance.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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