You Can Have This Bench When You
Pry It From My Cold, Dead Fingers
The White House soon disclosed its pleasure at the news. "He is doing an outstanding job, and we are pleased he will continue his great service to the nation," said Scott McClellan, the president's spokesman. "As I indicated yesterday, every person who works here at the White House has the confidence of the President. Oh, wait. Uh, sorry. I thought you asked me about Karl Rove again. You were talking about Rehnquist? My bad. Look -- he's old, he's got cancer, and we've got a whole list of CRAAAAAAAAAAAZY motherfuckers ready to take his place. You do the math."
The 80-year-old chief justice, who learned in October that he had thyroid cancer, had returned hours earlier to his home in suburban Arlington, Va., after spending two nights at the nearby Virginia Hospital Center, where he was treated for a fever.
Photographers were camped out in front of the house as they had been for weeks, recording his daily trip to and from his chambers at the court and awaiting word of a retirement that was expected in many quarters to be imminent.
The prospect that the scene on his lawn, with its overtones of a ghoulish death watch, would continue all summer was evidently what drove the famously tight-lipped chief justice to issue his statement.
Last Friday morning, when a reporter shouted a question about retirement at him as he left for work, he replied: "That's for me to know and you to find out." The rumors that flooded Washington throughout the remainder of the day became almost comical, as when the columnist Robert D. Novak declared on CNN that the chief justice's retirement would be announced at 4:50 that afternoon.
"So what?" Novak shrugged. "I say a lot of shit. Fucking sue me."