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by John Wilson
President Donald P. Vanderkamp, the most winsome fictional chief executive since David Palmer was assassinated several seasons ago on 24, has a problem. There's a vacancy on the Supreme Court—or so goes the not-implausible premise of Christopher Buckley's delectable entertainment, Supreme Courtship. ("Supreme Court Associate Justice J. Mortimer Brinnin's deteriorating mental condition had been the subject of talk for some months now, but when he showed up for oral argument with his ears wrapped in aluminum foil, the consensus was that the time had finally come to retire.") Vanderkamp has put forward two superbly qualified candidates, each of them rejected in turn by the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Relentless opposition research on the first candidate reveals that as a 12-year-old, he wrote a review of the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird for his elementary school newspaper in which he observed that, "Though the picture is overall OK, it's also kind of boring," leading the powerful chair of the committee, Senator Dexter Mitchell—who himself covets a spot on the High Court—to recall the specter of the Ku Klux Klan.)
Inspiration strikes Vanderkamp one night at Camp David, as he is channel-surfing in search of a bowling tournament. He stumbles on Courtroom Six, a highly rated show (though new to him) in the Judge Judy vein, starring a stunning native Texan named Pepper Cartwright. He likes her down-to-earth judicial style. He likes her altogether. And he decides to make her his next nominee for the Supreme Court.
Here we should pause to note that, while novels rarely play any part in national affairs, I think it's entirely possible that Buckley's novel—published in September, but available in galleys several months earlier—gave John McCain (or someone in his inner circle, who brought it to McCain's attention) the idea of choosing Sarah Palin to be his running-mate. Not that Sarah Palin and Pepper Cartwright are identical. For starters, ...