Sunday, November 14, 2004

Showdown at the Senate Judiciary Committee

The hyenas are beginning to circle around Arlen Specter, the pro-choice Republican who--according to Republican rules of succession--is entitled to take the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January. But there is fear and loathing in the Republican caucus.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Arlen Specter must prove to his Republican colleagues that he is the right man to head the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday.

Onto one end of the dusty street steps lonely Arlen Specter, the Last Republican Moderate, spurs clinking defiantly in the desolate wind. Onto the other end of the street steps a squinting Rick Santorum, clad in tight black leather: the man who saved Arlen's life in the fierce primary shootout with Black Pat Toomey. Rick Santorum, the man who risked his own skin to save Brother Arlen, teeth gritted with a horrible determination that Specter not leave this town walking upright.

Bill Frist, the bartender, wipes his spectacles on his apron and shudders as he calls out the rules of the duel. "Count of three, gentlemen, then fire when ready."

Specter is all alone, and knows it. But behind Santorum there is an army of angry cowboys, with Hoppin' John Cornyn already describing Specter's gruesome death to the local reporter, and Orrin Hatch, his suit and tie somehow looking cleaner than ever in the dust and wind, muttering darkly about vengeance.

The town's liberals crouch in doorways and behind overturned tables and wagon-wheels, watching fearfully as the gunmen spit on their hands and test the wind. They say on days like this you can hear the sound of Robert Bork's laugh, echoing through the back alleys and across the dried-up pond.

A fit of coughing can be heard from Bill Rehniquist's room upstairs in the saloon. "Hurry," says the doctor, poking his head out the window of old Bill's room, "he hasn't got much time." Crazy Tom Coburn growls something about rampant lesbianism, and Santorum grins a little wider.

The sun beats down. Frist begins to count.