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Opening Arguments

Judge Dork busts loose

One of the best lines you're likely to read about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, from one of the people who grew up with him in northwest Indiana: "He wasn't a dork or anything." It's from a Chicago Tribune story that tries to fathom the adult Roberts by cutting and pasting snippets of remembrance from people who knew the juvenile Roberts.

Unfortunately, it comes across as one of those "look at these quaint little-town folk" stories that newspapers in Los Angeles or New York do when news happens in the Heartland and reporters have to set foot in flyover country. The story includes the line, "Long Beach retains a warm sense of isolation" (a big-city way of saying the town is full of clueless -- well, dorks -- who don't understand the real world), and the reporters actually found someone willing to say, "It's more of a Mayberry." Gollee, Ange! Let's go down to the post office and watch them lick stamps, and then we can talk to Gomer about that lawyer feller who went off to Raleigh." Long Beach isn't another country, for God's sake, it's just around Lake Michigan from Chicago, and people there have million-dollar houses.

The Indianapolis Star gets it right, warning readers not to "picture a rural scene of swaying corn . . ." and pointing out that half the town of 1,500 is made up of, uh, well, Chicago vacation homes.