Floored

by Jay Nordlinger

Last week, I had a post about Paul Tsongas, the late Massachusetts senator. When he campaigned against Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic presidential primaries, he ran into a problem: He wanted to call Clinton a “pander bear,” but it came out “panda bear.” And when he wanted to say “panda bear,” it came out “pander bear.”

Ay caramba.

I heard from Perry Pendley, the head of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, and the author of Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today.

In the mid-1990s, Perry was arguing before the Supreme Court, and ran into some confusion with Justice Souter (who is from Massachusetts and New Hampshire). Souter said, “Did your complaint specify the presumption as being the flaw in the statutory scheme, or the clause as being the flaw?”

Perry heard “floor.” Souter straightened him out, explaining, “It’s my regional accent.” Graciously, Perry said, “It’s my hearing.”

You can hear this for yourself at this link. The exchange we’re talking about starts at 7:44. A nice moment at the High Court, and very American.