Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr. decried the "Crying Wolf Syndrome" -- as Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) dubbed it -- of liberals who attacked the soon-to-be 17th chief justice.
But other than some criticism that Roberts managed to say virtually nothing for an entire week -- and some sharp opposition to his legal philosophy and approach to the law -- liberal opponents were a pale shadow of their former selves.
Take, for example, this spectacular shot at David H. Souter when he was nominated for the court in 1990:
Now that's pretty tough stuff.
And the relatively easy ride this time around for Roberts is not just because he had no significant paper trail. Neither did Souter, as one official from the National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund testified. But that didn't stop NOW then-President Molly Yard from saying Souter would be "ending freedom for women in this country." He was, the opposition concluded, a most likely vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. He turned out to be a solid liberal vote.
John Paul Stevens, now the court's most liberal member, a veritable left-winger, was bashed for his "consistent opposition to women's rights" and perceived coolness to abortion rights.
And the courtly Virginian Lewis F. Powell, if confirmed, would mean "justice for women will be ignored," liberals said. Powell, the quintessential swing vote, a critical vote to permit affirmative action, was accused by one civil rights lawyer of having "a record of continued hostility to the law."
All this, as Cornyn noted, turned out to be wildly off the mark. That record might be almost enough to worry conservatives. Perhaps not quite enough.
Dressed for Success
Meanwhile, despite four days of endless bloviating by Senate Judiciary Committee members, not one pressed Roberts on the key question: Gold stripes on the robes a la Rehnquist, or plain black?
Roberts isn't saying -- it is, after all, a matter that will come before him as chief justice. But longtime pals say it would be most unlike him to go for glitz. Well, okay, maybe gold epaulets after 30 years.
Brownie's Last Call
Midnight tonight is the deadline for entries to the Loop "Brownie's New Gig" contest. Send your suggestion for a suitable new job for former FEMA director Michael D. Brown via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Entries must include telephone contact numbers to be eligible.
Words That Haunt, Etc.
Former Bush I White House counsel C. Boyden Gray is heading up to the Senate today for his confirmation hearing to be ambassador to the European Union. There's no indication that Gray won't be confirmed promptly -- he even looks the part of the consummate diplomat.
But doubtless note will be taken of a couple of cheap shots he took against Congress in 1988. Opining about presidential-congressional relations in foreign policy, Gray told a Houston legal group that Congress claimed a role in foreign policy "on the grounds that only it represents the people properly." The notion is the president is elected every four years but House members every two.
This is hooey, Gray said. "Congress, especially the House, is the most unrepresentative of the American people," because for decades incumbents have rarely been defeated. "It is highly unlikely the Founding Fathers intended for that kind of tenure for the House of Representatives. The only reason anyone leaves the Congress these days," he said, "is because he or she gets bored."
Surely this is wrong. They leave because they need to cash in big-time in the private sector.
Malden's Red-Letter Day?
Speaking of the House, we note that, amid the crush of national tragedy, the traditional work of Congress continues.
On Friday, according to a minority whip's notice for this week, "the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business." And one bill it will consider is H.R. 3667 -- "the Karl Malden Station Post Office Designation Act," sponsored by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).
The veteran actor appeared in the long-running "Streets of San Francisco" series and in a number of fine movies, with the possible exception of 1993's "They've Taken Our Children: The Chowchilla Kidnapping."
Theodore W. "Ted" Ullyot, formerly in the White House counsel's office and deputy staff secretary and, for the last eight months, chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, is going private, taking advantage of what's said to be a fine opportunity. Chatter is that Ullyot, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and partner at Kirkland & Ellis, will be replaced in-house, maybe as early as this week.