In the Office of O, Jed is looking up at Toby incredulously from behind his desk. "You like him?" "I hate him!" Toby insists. "I hate him! But he's...brilliant. And the two of them together are fighting like cats and dogs...but it works." He shrugs. Ah, yes. Respectful disagreement. Always in short supply, unfortunately.
In our other tense meeting, Pierce is complaining about Josh's inability to find a decent centrist to put on the Court. Josh counters that the Court is already packed with centrists. Plus two staunch conservatives, plus Ashland. And if Ashland goes, there will be no liberal voice at all, and this is the way to replace him with someone good. Pierce considers it.
Jed agrees to meet with Mulready. Toby wants more enthusiasm over the plan from Jed, who finally just says, "I said I'd listen to him, Toby. That's gonna have to do." Outside the office, Toby runs into Donna, who comments that right at the moment, "nothing's happening." Just then, Rina brings Mulready past the two of them to enter the Office of O. As he passes, Donna comments, "No tail. No cloven hooves." Yeah. No kidding.
Debbie announces Mulready, who comes in and shakes Jed's hand. They sit. Jed remarks that he heard about the "knock-down drag-out" between Mulready and Lang. "She wants to federalize law enforcement," Mulready says. "I thought it was hasty." Hee. "Not your brand of judge," Jed fills in. "Quite the opposite; I haven't had that much fun in months," Mulready counters. "Use her if you can," Mulready urges. He goes on to say that he's not really sure what's going on, and he understands that lots of people are probably "placated" by seeing him -- or Lang -- being considered. "But if there's any way that you can use her --" "It's unlikely," Jed says gently. Mulready asks who's on the top of the list, and when Jed blanches, Mulready points out that nobody would believe a leak from him anyway. Heh. Jed gives up the fact that it's Shelton, and Mulready gives what appears to be a nice firm "meh" to that idea. Does Mulready not like him? No, no, Mulready thinks he's just fine. "And in the event that Carmine, Lafayette, Hoyt, Clark, and Brannigan all drop dead, the center will still be well-tended." Oooh, burn. Jed asks if Mulready expects Jed to appoint another Brady. Mulready says that Jed would probably rather have another Ashland, and opines that the Court did well when Brady and Ashland clashed. Jed says that moderates can be smart, too. Mulready earns my love forever by pointing out the importance of a strong position, even if it comes in the form of a well-written dissent. He even names a couple of famous ones. They talk pleasantly, but Mulready ultimately acknowledges, "You can't put me on the Court. Just like you can't put Evelyn Lang on the Court. It's Sheltons from here on in." He seems saddened by this, just as much as Josh was. Jed acknowledges that there are 4,000 protestors outside, and that he afford to can't make all of them hate him. "We all have our roles to play, sir," Mulready says. "Yours is to nominate someone who doesn't alienate people." The even, respectful, resigned way he delivers this remark seems to hit Jed right in the gut.