So you wanna be a Supreme Court justice?
Here’s the simple but mysterious way to make the short list of candidates.
Like many people, you may be wondering why, when there is a vacancy on the US Supreme Court, your name does not come up as a possible replacement justice.
Wonder no longer. If you’re not on the short list, it’s because you haven’t been discovered yet by the Great Mentioner.
The Great Mentioner is the semimagical process that produces names of candidates for important jobs. It was discovered, or named, or perhaps invented, by Russell Baker, former New York Times columnist and proud product of the Baltimore Public Schools.
You know how, within five minutes of learning that Justice David Souter was retiring, CNN was already listing people who might fill his seat? That was the Great Mentioner. Have you heard that Newt Gingrich might be the person to lead the GOP out of its malaise? The Great Mentioner has. He or she mentioned it already.
Nor is the GM interested only in politics.
He/she/it has done extensive work on lists of possible managers for the New York Yankees, because it is only a matter of time until the current one gets the ax and the mentioning of replacements is needed.
The role of the Great Mentioner is not only to mention candidates for a particular job who actually are under consideration, but also those whom the Great Mentioner, as a representative of the conventional wisdom, thinks should be considered.
“A lot of people”? OK, OK – we were just talking to a barista and the subject came up.
But here’s the beautiful part: Anyone can now write, “Chelsea Clinton has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Senate in 2010.” Why? Because she has. By D.C. Decoder. Two paragraphs up.
[NOTE: Please do not write Decoder and complain about partisanship. That the daughter of an ex-president and current secretary of State might enter politics is not exactly a leap. Also, the thought is not original. Just Google “Chelsea” and “Senate,” and watch your browser explode.]
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying the lists of possible Souter replacements are plucked from thin air. We’re saying that some of the people on some of the published lists you’ve read for some important jobs may have been added to sort of pad the thing, if you know what we mean.