The Magazine

Ordeal by Congress

The human cost of advice and consent.

Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By TERRY EASTLAND
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As the subtitle indicates, The Nominee is the story of “a political and spiritual journey,” which means that it is the story of a political journey that is simultaneously a spiritual journey, with “spiritual” understood by the Roman Catholic Southwick (who was raised Methodist) in broadly Christian terms. Major themes here are providence and forgiveness. Providence, because after constantly wondering how his journey will wind up, Southwick finally reaches the point where he is as accepting of one outcome (a successful nomination) as he is of the other (a failed one). Forgiveness, because Southwick is dismayed by his critics but comes to forgive them even as he accepts how it was that they could have opposed him.

Southwick writes that his book is “at its most basic level a plea for reconciliation among those who battle in judicial wars.” Those wars, however, are unlikely to abate so long as the two parties disagree, as they so sharply do, over the role of the courts and how judges should interpret and apply the law. This well-written and engaging tale of a nomination almost undone thus promises to have an ongoing audience, perhaps including someone as eager as the author once was to become a judicial nominee. 

Terry Eastland is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard.