RoadTrip America

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Supreme Courtship, by Christopher Buckley (Read by Anne Heche)


What is this country coming to? President Vanderdamp has publicly stated his opposition to presidents choosing to serve 2 terms, but when Congress passes legislation that would constitutionally impose a one-term limit, he feels he has to run for a second term as a protest against the restriction. As his first term is ending he finds that he must appoint a Supreme Court justice to replace the senile justice who has taken to showing up in court with his ears wrapped in tinfoil. Although he proposes several highly qualified jurists to the selection committee, each is rejected by Senator Dexter Mitchell, who would like to be named to the Court himself. When Mitchell can find nothing wrong with one squeaky clean judge, he has his investigators find a junior high school newspaper review of the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, the judge had written as a 12 year old. Because he's quoted as saying he found the movie "kind of boring," the judge is portrayed as a sheet-wearing racist. In desperation Vanderdamp selects the very sexy, very popular Judge Pepper Cartwright of the TV show, Courtroom Six to be his final and ultimately successful nominee.

Buckley's satirical narrative about the election process, the selection and approval of Supreme Court justices and the making of hit TV shows is hilarious, and in light of the vice presidential nomination of the "very sexy, very popular" Sarah Palin, it's eerily timely. Anne Heche is the perfect reader for this audio book, because she can portray the folksy, flip Pepper and the stuffy, sanctimonious Dexter with equal dexterity (sorry-it's the Buckley influence). Comical situations arise with almost every move the Washington figures make, whether it's official government business or a personal peccadillo. Interspersed with the comedy are gems of wisdom and historical information. Not falling in either category probably, but interesting all the same is Buckley's quote, "Industry is the enemy of melancholy," which when Pepper asks if it's from a refrigerator magnet, he attributes to William F. Buckley, Jr.

What make this book so intriguing is that it contains a situation that comes so close to actual events that what might have seemed a joke before the 2008 election becomes a plausible scenario. Buckley's heroine is also seen as an unconventional choice for a high office, but she demonstrates native intelligence and common sense. She may be perceived as an intellectual lightweight, but she is sufficiently educated to understand literary references, law, and she seems to know geography. The personalities of the other characters in this book range from buffoon to lovable teddy bear-amusing and endearing. This book is a winner.

Ruth Mormon
11/16/09

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