A historic meltdown occurred in the summer of 1987. Washington, D.C. became a kiln of sweltering heat, smothering both man and beast. The blinding sun seared skin, the inside of noses singed with every breath, and anything within 50 feet of the sizzling sidewalks seemed to bake.
But the truly toxic heat bellowed from the chambers of the U.S. Senate as Ted Kennedy took the floor.
That summer found me "popping pregnant" -- 7 months and counting -- so I remember the heat well. I also was expectant with hope when President Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
I knew Judge Bork's record, and my colleagues at Concerned Women for America and comrades around the country with various other freedom and family organizations were ecstatic. Judge Bork was the perfect candidate -- an experienced jurist, a former solicitor general and a professional who always held fast to the constitutional principles fashioned by our nation's founders.
But our joy was short-lived. Within a few hours of the nomination, Ted Kennedy pompously and deceitfully twisted the sterling record and character of a great American into that of a Nazi.
Kennedy's now-infamous "Bork's America" speech has to be one of the lowest moments in modern American history. Coupled with the constant onslaught of hatred perpetrated by liberal groups such as People for the American Way, NOW, NARAL and Planned Parenthood, it left Judge Bork's nomination in tatters by sundown of the first day. Yet, the battle continued throughout August as many of us continued to believe that we needed only to tell the truth, to set the record straight, in order to have Judge Bork confirmed. But we were wrong.
The systematic skewering of Judge Bork was sickening. I had the privilege of debating a feminist on CBS one morning and again on CNN's Crossfire. (Interesting sidebar: I learned from the CNN producer that the feminist had attempted to get me cancelled as a guest, claiming that I would get the viewer's "sympathy vote" due to my obvious pregnancy. And you thought feminists were advocates for all women. HA!) I also participated in countless radio debates with liberals of many stripes. But my message was doomed. Why? Because every one of them was singing from Ted Kennedy's song sheet, and the combination of their shrill voices pierced the noble process and drowned out the truth.
Fast forward to now. Within a day of Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation from the high court, there was Kennedy on the tube, lost in some time warp. I could scarcely believe my ears as he again began his diatribe about "Bork's America." Some 18 years after the seedy senator's deadly venom caused the constitutional process to convulse into a circus freak show, he was still ranting about his neurotic nightmare.
A quick check of the liberal activist Web sites reveals that, once again, the forces have assembled with the sole mission of dooming any nominee that doesn't support their political agenda. The phrases they are all using are eerily similar to each other and to Teddy's mantra: "We will oppose any nominee who doesn't support individual rights" -- "individual rights" or "privacy," of course, serving as code for abortion on demand, homosexual special privileges, etc.
The point of my not-so-pleasant stroll down memory lane is to remind us that history often repeats itself. If President Bush has the courage to nominate a conservative, qualified jurist who will uphold the Constitution as written rather than creating rights out of thin air, we can expect a long, bloody, orchestrated all-out war by the opposition. Nevertheless, the president must be true to his campaign promise to do just that.
There's another, equally bloody nomination and confirmation story that, miraculously, has a bright ending, which should give the president hope. The 1991 nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court saw this remarkable human being become a victor as he rose above the crude attacks and eventually took his seat on the high court. Clarence Thomas, thank God, survived what he called the "high-tech lynching" with which Kennedy and his fellow travelers attempted to silence him.
Mr. President, we need more nominations like Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. Your opponents will go on the warpath regardless, so you might as well nominate a highly principled conservative who will be worth the fight -- and the sweltering heat of what promises to be another scorching showdown.
Rebecca Hagelin is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on World Net Daily