Cover image for Protect and defend
Protect and defend
Patterson, Richard North.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.
Physical Description:
549 pages ; 25 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.8 32.0 56908.
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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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A compelling new novel from Richard North Patterson- a major departure, and that confirms his place among the most important popular novelists at work today. A newly elected president faces the unexpected chance to nominate a new chief justice of the Supreme Court. His first choice is a nationally respected Court of Appeals judge, a woman whose nomination faces two serious obstacles: a long-held personal secret; and the prospect that a volatile abortion case- a trial pitting a 15-year-old girl against her pro-life parents- will come before the court. And the Senate majority leader is determined to thwart the president's nomination for reasons that cross the boundary between the political and the personal. As these stories intertwine, building in complexity and suspense, Patterson gives us the resounding clash of competing ambitions between the president and the majority leader; the equally momentous collision of science and culture in the courtroom; and, in an unprecedented novelistic depiction of the legal process from the perspective of the judge rather than the lawyers, a revelation of both how the judicial system works and how it intersects with politics, for better or for worse. PROTECT AND DEFENDis a triumph- the definitive novel of politics and law at the dawn of the 21st century.

Author Notes

Richard North Patterson was born in Berkeley, California on February 22, 1947. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1968 and Case Western Reserve University's School of Law in 1971. He has served as an assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio; a trial attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco; and was the SEC's liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor. He retired from the practice of law in 1993 to become a full-time writer. He studied creative writing with Jesse Hill Ford at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

His first novel, The Lasko Tangent, won an Edgar Allen Poe Award in 1979. His other works include Private Screening, Eyes of a Child, Silent Witness, No Safe Place, Exile, Eclipse, The Devil's Light, and Fall from Grace. He has received several awards of his work including the French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere in 1995 for Degree of Guilt and a Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood for Protect and Defend.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

During incoming president Kerry Kilcannon's swearing-in ceremony, the chief justice of the Supreme Court collapses and dies, making the appointment of his replacement Kilcannon's first major decision. Being progressive, he chooses a woman and a controversial one at that. The new president, young, politically savvy, and well liked by both sides of the aisle, has never taken a definitive stance on abortion, nor has his chief justice nominee, Caroline Masters (who has appeared in other Patterson novels). But the issue of abortion has come to the foreground once again, as a suit is brought to challenge the constitutionality of a new law, the Protection of Life Act. This federal law does not ban abortion outright but rather puts substantial restraints on the ability of minors to obtain an abortion without parental consent or for any woman to obtain a late-term abortion, no matter the cause of pregnancy. The biggest proponents of the law are the parents of the young girl who is bringing the case. Although both the president and his nominee try to bury their heads in the sand on this issue, the nation becomes obsessed with the lawsuit. Patterson, better known for his legal thrillers, delivers a whopping political novel that is at once suspenseful and informative, gripping and touching. Without taking sides, he dramatizes the passions on both sides of the abortion argument, producing both a compelling story and an accessible dissertation on the complexities of our most troubling social issue. --Mary Frances Wilkens

Publisher's Weekly Review

U.S. President Kerry Kilcannon, introduced by Patterson in 1998's No Safe Place, returns for another political dogfight in this meticulously researched, sharply observed tension builder about a Supreme Court nominee mired in the abortion debate. Kilcannon, seeking to counter the court's conservative leanings, has nominated another Patterson heroine, Caroline Masters (Degree of Guilt; The Final Judgment), an appellate court judge of impeccable legal pedigree, yet one vulnerable to attack from the right. The single San Francisco judge harbors a secret: she had a child out of wedlock 27 years ago, a painful ordeal that her critics soon uncover. Masters's struggle for confirmation by the U.S. Senate plays out against the backdrop of another court caseDthat of Mary Ann Tierney, a 15-year-old six months pregnant with a hydrocephalic baby. Citing a new federal law, Tierney's parents, both prolife activists, refuse to allow their daughter to abort. When Tierney's suit seeking to overturn the law reaches the appellate court, Masters's foes work out a backroom deal that requires Masters to hear the case and issue an opinion that could doom her nomination and possibly Kilcannon's presidency. Excelling as both a political novel and a tale of suspense, Patterson's latest takes a provocative look at the ethics of abortion and the power plays endemic to American politics, skewering the Christian Right, the gun lobby and campaign financing along the way. In lesser hands, the book's exhaustive recitation of abortion pros and cons might have spelled polemical tedium, but Patterson's strong characterizations and sensitivity to both sides (though he leans prochoice) illuminate one of society's most bitter and divisive issues. Agent, Fred Hill. (Dec.) Forecast: With the future of the Supreme Court at stake in this last election, the reach of this perfectly timed novel could extend beyond Patterson's usual fans. A 500,000-copy first printing has been announced; the book is also a dual main selection of the Literary Guild, a featured alternate selection of BOMC and a selection of the Doubleday Book Club and the Mystery Guild, and will be a simultaneous Random House Audiobook and available in a large print edition from Random. We're talking major bestseller here. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In his 11th novel, former courtroom lawyer Patterson builds upon No Safe Place, in which liberal senator Kerry Kilcannon ran for the presidency. Here the newly inaugurated Kilcannon immediately locks horns with conservative Congressional factions when he nominates appellate judge Caroline Masters as Supreme Court Chief Justice. Kilcannon's opponents attempt to derail the nomination by conspiring to have Judge Masters rule on a controversial and highly publicized late-term abortion case. The courtroom drama centers on 15-year-old Mary Ann Tierney's attempt to overturn the new parental consent law, which prevents her from legally aborting her hydrocephalic fetus. Mary Ann is represented by young, articulate Sarah Dash, who once clerked for Judge Masters, and opposed by her own father, a respected philosopher. Although the presentation suggests a pro-choice slant, Patterson's characters argue both sides of the issue intelligently, contributing to the intriguing complexity of a very thrilling political novel. Highly recommended for all public libraries.DSheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-When the Chief Justice drops dead at the inauguration of Kerry Kilcannon, the charismatic new president appoints federal judge Caroline Masters to the high court and begins assembling a strategy to get her approved by a contentious Congress. Meanwhile, a pregnant teen with a damaged fetus goes to court to challenge her parents, who helped to pass a new parental-consent law that prevents her from having an abortion. The two events become intertwined, and as the plot thickens, almost every current domestic issue imaginable, from campaign finances to gun control to privacy rights, comes into play. Patterson skillfully juggles a large cast of characters and controversies, but the result is that his people emerge not as real individuals but as too-facile spokespersons for different points of view, and political or legal maneuvers are not always clearly explained. Nevertheless, fans of West Wing and aspiring lawyers will enjoy the action and the opportunity to contemplate the process of lawmaking and the difficulty of defining and maintaining integrity in the political arena.-Jan Tarasovic, West Springfield High School, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



PART I The Inaugural One "I, Kerry Francis Kilcannon . . ." In a high clear voice, carrying a trace of Irish lilt, Kerry Kilcannon repeated the historic phrases intoned by Chief Justice Roger Bannon. The two men faced each other on the patio which fronted the west side of the Capitol, surrounded by guests and officeholders and watched from greater distances by thousands of well-wishers who covered the grounds below. The noonday was bright but chill; a heavy snow had fallen overnight, and the mist of Bannon's words hung in the air between them. Though Kerry wore the traditional morning coat, those around him huddled with their collars up and hands shoved in the pockets of much heavier coats. Protected only by his traditional robe, the Chief Justice looked bloodless, an old man who shivered in the cold, heightening the contrast with Kerry Kilcannon. Kerry was forty-two, and his slight frame and thatch of chestnut hair made him seem startlingly young for the office. At his moment of accession, both humbling and exalting, the three people he loved most stood near: his mother, Mary Kilcannon; Clayton Slade, his closest friend and the new Chief of Staff; and his fianc?e, Lara Costello, a broadcast journalist who enhanced the aura of youth and vitality which was central to Kerry's appeal. "When Kerry Kilcannon enters a room," a commentator had observed, "he's in Technicolor, and everyone else is in black-and-white." Despite that, Kerry knew with regret, he came to the presidency a divisive figure. His election last November had been bitter and close: only at dawn of the next morning, when the final count in California went narrowly to Kerry, had Americans known who would lead them. Few, Kerry supposed, were more appalled than Chief Justice Roger Bannon. It was an open secret that, at seventy-nine, Bannon had long wished to retire: for eight years under Kerry's Democratic predecessor, the Chief Justice had presided grimly over a sharply divided Court, growing so pale and desiccated that he came, in Kerry's mind, to resemble parchment. Seemingly all that had sustained him was the wish for a Republican president to appoint his successor, helping maintain Bannon's conservative legacy; in a rare moment of incaution, conveyed to the press, Bannon had opined at a dinner party that Kerry was "ruthless, intemperate, and qualified only to ruin the Court." The inaugural's crowning irony was that the Chief Justice was here, obliged by office to effect the transfer of power to another Democrat, this one the embodiment of all Bannon loathed. Whoever imagined that ours was a government of laws and not men, Kerry thought wryly, could not see Bannon's face. Yet he was here to do his job, trembling with cold, and Kerry could not help but feel sympathy and a measure of admiration. ". . . do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States . . ." The outgoing president watched from Kerry's left, gray and worn, a cautionary portrait of the burdens awaiting him. Yet there were at least two others nearby who already hoped to take Kerry's place: his old antagonist from the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Macdonald Gage; and Senator Chad Palmer, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a second Republican whose rivalry with Gage and friendship with Kerry did not disguise his cheerful conviction that he would be a far better president than either. Kerry wondered which man the Chief Justice was hoping would depose him four years hence, and whether Bannon would live that long. ". . . and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Firmly, as though to override the old man's hesitance, Kerry completed the oath. At that wondrous instant, the summit of two years of striving and resolve, Kerry Francis Kilcannon became President of the United States. A rough celebratory chorus rose from below. Mustering a faint smile, Bannon shook his hand. "Congratulations," the Chief Justice murmured and then, after a moment's pause, he added the words "Mr. President." At 12:31, both sobered and elated by the challenge awaiting him, President Kerry Kilcannon concluded his inaugural address. There was a deep momentary quiet and then a rising swell of applause, long and sustained and, to Kerry, reassuring. Turning to those nearest, he looked first toward Lara Costello. Instead, he found himself staring at Chief Justice Bannon. Bannon raised his hand, seeming to reach out to him, a red flush staining his cheeks. One side of his face twitched, and then his eyes rolled back into his head. Knees buckling, the Chief Justice slowly collapsed. Before Kerry could react, three Secret Service agents surrounded the new president, uncertain of what they had seen. The crowd below stilled; from those closer at hand came cries of shock and confusion. "He's had a stroke," Kerry said quickly. "I'm fine." After a moment, they released his arms, clearing the small crush of onlookers surrounding the fallen Chief Justice. Senator Chad Palmer had already turned Bannon over and begun mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Kneeling beside them, Kerry watched Palmer's white-blond head press against the Chief Justice's ashen face. Chad's cheeks trembled with the effort to force air down a dead man's throat. Turning at last, Palmer murmured to Kerry, "I think he's gone." As ever in the presence of death, Kerry experienced a frisson of horror and pity. Chad touched his arm. "They'll need to see you, Mr. President. To know that you're all right." Belatedly, Kerry nodded. He stood, turning, and saw his mother and Lara, their stunned expressions mirroring his own. Only then did he register what Chad Palmer, whose former appellation for Kerry was "pal," had called him. At once, Kerry felt the weight of his new responsibilities, both substantive and symbolic. He had asked the country to look to him, and this was no time to falter. Kerry stepped back to the podium, glancing back as paramedics bore the Chief Justice to an ambulance. The crowd below milled in confusion. Gazing out, Kerry paused, restoring his own equanimity. Time seemed to stop for him. It was a trick he had learned before addressing a jury and, even now, it served. Above the confusion, Kerry's voice rang out. "The Chief Justice," he announced, "has collapsed, and is on his way to the hospital." His words carried through the wintry air to the far edge of the crowd. "I ask for a moment of quiet," he continued, "and for your prayers for Chief Justice Bannon." Stillness fell, a respectful silence. But there would be little time, Kerry realized, to reflect on Roger Bannon's passing. The first days of his administration had changed abruptly, and their defining moment was already ordained: his submission to the Senate of a new Chief Justice who, if confirmed, might transform the Court. The ways in which this would change his own life--and that of others here, and elsewhere--was not yet within his contemplation. Two On a bleak, drizzly afternoon, typical of San Francisco in January, Sarah Dash braced herself for another confrontation. It was abortion day and, despite the weather, demonstrators ringed the converted Victorian which served as the Bay Area Women's Clinic. Sarah monitored them from its porch, ignoring the dampness of her dark, curly hair, her grave brown eyes calm yet resolute. But beneath this facade, she was tense. This was the first test of the new court order she had obtained, over bitter opposition from pro-life attorneys, to protect access to the clinic. Though, at twenty-nine, Sarah had been a lawyer for less than five years, her job was to enforce the order. Today, she guessed, there were at least two hundred. Most were peaceful. Some knelt on the sidewalks in prayer. Others carried placards bearing pictures of bloody fetuses or calling abortion murder. With a few of the regulars--the graying priest who engaged Sarah in gentle argument, the grandmother who offered her homemade cookies--Sarah had formed a relationship which was, despite yawning differences in social outlook, based on mutual respect. But the militant wing of the Christian Commitment, the ones who called her "baby-killer," filled her with unease. Almost always, they were men--often single and in their twenties, Sarah had learned--and their aim was to quash abortion through fear and shame. For weeks they had accosted anyone who came: first the doctors and nurses who arrived to work--whom they addressed by name, demanding that they "wash the blood off their hands," then the women who wanted their services. Before Sarah had gone to court, the militants had effectively shut the clinic down. Now Sarah's mandate was clear: to ensure that any woman brave or desperate enough to come for an abortion could have one. But the only access to the clinic was a concrete walk from the sidewalk to the porch where Sarah stood. The court's zone of protection--a five foot bubble around each patient--would permit the demonstrators to surround the patient until she reached the porch. To combat this gauntlet, Sarah had designed a system: once a patient called, setting a time for arrival, the clinic sent out a volunteer in a bright orange vest to escort her. All Sarah could do now was hope it worked. As Sarah surveyed the crowd, she noticed a disturbing number of new faces, men whom she had not seen here before. Their presence, she guessed, was yet another tactic of the Christian Commitment: to use fresh recruits who could claim that the court order did not cover them. But a spate of anti-abortion violence--the murder of a doctor in Buffalo, three more killings at a clinic in Boston--had caused her to look out for strangers more troubled, and more dangerous, than even the Commitment might suspect. It was not the kind of judgment for which her training had prepared her. Until her involvement with the clinic, the path of Sarah's career had been smooth and without controversy: a scholarship to Stanford; an editorship on the law journal at Yale; a much sought-after clerkship with one of the most respected female jurists in the country, Caroline Masters of the United States Court of Appeals. Her associateship at Kenyon & Walker, a four-hundred-lawyer firm with a roster of corporate clients and a reputation for excellence, was both a logical progression and, perhaps, a first step toward a loftier ambition--to be, like Caroline Masters, a federal judge. And the only volunteer activity her schedule allowed--enrolling in the firm's pro bono program--was encouraged by the partners, at least in theory, as an act of social responsibility. But after Sarah had taken the Christian Commitment to court, she had felt a clear, if subtle, change. It was one thing for Kenyon & Walker to represent a clinic whose principal service was birth control; another when gratis representation crossed over into abortion, let alone an area this dangerous and inflammatory, and which also had decreased measurably the time Sarah spent on paying clients. The Commitment was formidable: its lawyers were the pro-life movement's most experienced; its public spokespeople the most persuasive; its militant wing--as only pro-choice activists and women in need of an abortion truly understood--the most obstructionist and intimidating. Despite her success in court, there were rumors that the managing partner was looking for a way to end her involvement. Part of Sarah resented this intrusion; another part, which she admired less, conceded that this might be an act of mercy. Sometimes one's best decisions were made by someone else. But today's decisions were hers: how best to protect the women who came here; whether to call the police for help. The first patient was due in fifteen minutes. Scanning the crowd, Sarah noticed a young woman watching her from across the street. She was a girl, really, with short red hair and a waiflike slimness. But despite the flowered dress she wore, Sarah noticed, her belly had begun to show. Immobile, the girl gazed at the clinic as though it were a thousand miles away. Two weeks ago, before the court order, Sarah had seen the same girl. The clinic had been ringed with demonstrators, blocking access. For some moments, as now, the girl had not moved. Then, as though panicked, she had turned abruptly, and hurried away. This time she remained. For perhaps five minutes she stood rooted to the sidewalk. Bowing her head, she seemed to pray. Then she started across the street, toward the clinic. Turning sideways, she entered the crush of demonstrators, eyes averted. She managed to reach the walkway before a dark-haired young man stepped in front of her. Gently, as a brother might, the man placed both hands on the girl's shoulders. "We can find you clothes and shelter," he promised her, "a loving home for your baby." Mute, the girl shook her head. Leaving the porch, Sarah hurried toward them. As she pushed through the bubble, the stranger turned toward her. Sarah placed a copy of the court order in his hand. "You're violating a court order," she said. "Let her pass, or I'll call the police." The man kept his eyes on Sarah, staring at her with a puzzled half-smile which did not reach his eyes. Softly, Sarah repeated, "Let her go." Still silent, the man took one slow step backward. Grasping the girl's hand, Sarah led her past him. The chill on the back of Sarah's neck was from more than the cold and damp. When at last they reached the clinic, the girl began crying. Sarah guided her to a counselor's office and sat beside her on the worn couch. Bent forward, the girl's frame shook with sobs. Sarah waited until the trembling stopped. But the girl remained with her face in her hands. "How can we help you?" Sarah asked. After a moment, the girl looked up at her. Though her eyes were red-rimmed and swollen, her face had an unformed prettiness: snub features, rounded chin and cheekbones, a pale, fresh complexion lightly dusted with freckles, and, somewhat startling, blue irises which glinted with volatility. Except for the eyes, Sarah reflected much later, she had looked like a cheerleader in trouble, not a human lightning rod. "I need an abortion," she said. Three Kerry rode down Pennsylvania Avenue in a black limousine, Mary Kilcannon beside him, waving to the onlookers who thronged the street and covered the steps of public buildings. At the suggestion of his advisers, Lara was not with him: before Kerry asked the public to treat her as a First Lady, they opined, she should be one. And it was right, Kerry thought, that his mother share this day. Briefly, she touched his hand. "I'd say I'm proud of you," she told him. "But that's like saying I had anything to do with this." He turned to her, a still handsome woman of seventy with steel-gray hair, but the same green eyes which, as long as he could remember, had symbolized love and faith. "You did, Ma." Silent, Mary shook her head. In the world of politics, the gesture said, the Kilcannon family served as useful American myth: the two immigrants from county Roscommon, a policeman and his wife, who together had raised a president. But inside this car the myth's survivors could acknowledge the truth--that, at six, Kerry had cowered while his hulking father had beaten Mary Kilcannon; or that the brutality had continued until, at eighteen, filled with anguish and love for his mother and a rage that had never quite left him, the smaller Kerry had beaten his father unconscious. "The ones that hate you," she told him, "don't really know you." This, too, Kerry understood without words--his mother's guilty belief that Kerry's heritage of anger, transmuted by self-discipline into an iron resolve to achieve his goals, was as misunderstood by others as the reasons for it. If so, Kerry thought, let it be: he did not believe in calculated self-revelation, or that piercing his mother's fiercely held privacy was the necessary price of public office. His defense was humor, as when a reporter had asked him to describe the traits of the child Kerry Kilcannon. "Sensitivity," Kerry had answered with a smile. "And ruthlessness." Now, quiet, he took his mother's hand, even as the death of Roger Bannon shadowed his thoughts. At dusk--after hours spent on a bullet-proof reviewing stand watching his inaugural parade which, by actual count, had included seven hundred thirty horses; sixty-six floats; and fifty-seven marching bands--Kerry Kilcannon entered the West Wing for the first time as President. As he did, he felt the White House encase him: the eight guardhouses with uniformed protectors; the surveillance cameras; the seismic sensors planted on the grounds to detect intruders; the trappings and safeguards which flowed seamlessly from one occupant to another. At Kerry's request, Clayton Slade and Kit Pace, his press secretary, waited in the Oval Office. Looking from one to the other, Kerry crossed the room and settled into a high-backed chair behind an oak desk once used by John F. Kennedy. "Well," he inquired of his audience, "what do you think?" Eyeing him, Kit suppressed a smile. "Reverence aside, Mr. President, you look like a kid in the principal's office. Your predecessor was six inches taller." Kerry's amusement was muted; he sometimes resented reminders that he was, at most, five-ten. "They say Bobby Kennedy wore elevator shoes. Maybe you can find some for me." A smile crossed Clayton's shrewd black face. "Won't help," he told his friend crisply. "Lose the chair before the White House photographer shows." "'Scandal in the White House,'" Kerry said sarcastically. "'Dwarf Elected President.'" But he got up, closing the office door, and, waving Clayton and Kit to an overstuffed couch, sat across from them. "I take it he's dead," Kerry said. Kit nodded. "Massive stroke." Softly, she added, "He might have lived longer if he hadn't despised you so much." Kerry accepted this for what he thought it was--not callousness, but fact. "Do we have a statement?" he asked. Kit handed him a single typed page. Scanning it, Kerry murmured, "I suppose it's a mercy, at moments like this, that we so seldom say all we feel." He paused, then asked Kit, "How's his wife?" "Numb, I'm told. His death's hardly a surprise, but they'd been married fifty-two years. Three kids, eight grandchildren." "I'll call her before the inaugural balls start." Turning to Clayton, Kerry inquired, "What do we do about them?" "For sure not cancel. You've got thousands of supporters here, waiting for that night they'll tell their grandchildren about. You owe them, and the country, a new beginning. And Carlie"--referring to Clayton's wife--"has a new dress." Kerry smiled briefly. "So does Lara. I'll just have to find something appropriate to say at every ball, perhaps after a moment of silence. What else?" Clayton leaned back on the couch. "For openers, you've got a new Chief Justice to appoint." Once more, Kerry had a moment of disbelief--first that he was President, then that he would be tested so soon. "Not tonight, I hope." "Soon. We've got a four-four split on the Court--conservative versus moderate-to-liberal--with a full calendar of major cases. And it's not like anyone thought the Chief Justice would be with us that long--our transition team already has a shortlist of names, and they've started up files on each." "Good. Run them by our political people." "Your constituent groups will want to weigh in, too," Kit observed. "Hispanics, blacks, labor, pro-choice women, trial lawyers. They all think you owe them, and they're right." "Haven't they seen the Cabinet?" Clayton rejoined. "We've at least made a down payment." He turned to Kerry. "What we need here is a consensus choice--the Republicans still control the Senate, and Macdonald Gage is laying for you. Maybe Palmer, too, now that he's in charge of running the hearings on whoever you send over. I think we should look for a moderate Republican." "I thought they were an endangered species," Kerry said dryly. Standing, he told Clayton, "Get me the list tomorrow. Along with a new chair." Kit frowned, as if unwilling to drop the subject. "Without pro-choice women, Mr. President, you couldn't have carried California, and none of us would be here. As Ellen Penn no doubt will remind you." At this mention of his feisty new Vice President, formerly the junior senator from California, Kerry feigned a wince; arguably, he owed his election to Ellen, and she would not be shy in pressing her views. "Spare me. I'll be hearing from Ellen soon enough." "With reason," Kit persisted. "The pro-choice movement is scared to death--you've got this damned Protection of Life Act the Republicans just passed, which your predecessor was too scared to veto. Even you were conveniently absent for that vote." "The pro-choice movement," Kerry answered, "can be too damned hard to please. I was running for President, not auditioning for a supplement to Profiles in Courage. One vote in the Senate wouldn't have made any difference." "Exactly. So pro-choice women gave you a pass, expecting you'd look out for them once you got here. Especially on the Court." Kerry folded his arms. "I've been President for about five hours, I've got eleven balls to go to, and I'm still struggling to remember what to do if there's a nuclear attack. If it's all right with you, Kit, I'll reserve the Supreme Court for my first full day on the job." As though to short-circuit Kerry's irritation, Clayton intervened. "Even with Bannon's death," he told Kerry, "people will remember your inaugural address. You made it sound even better than it read. CNN called it the best since Kennedy's." Kerry smiled, mollified, and noted with amusement that he still needed Clayton's reassurance. At once Kit caught the spirit. "You were terrific," she averred. "The only thing that could have gone better is if the Service had let you get to Bannon before Palmer did. He's gotten too much airtime." Clayton gave a short laugh. "The most dangerous place in Washington," he agreed, "is the space between Chad Palmer and a Minicam." As he was meant to, Kerry smiled at them both. But beneath their mordant humor, he understood that Clayton and Kit already saw Chad Palmer as his chief rival, and that this would be the prism through which they viewed everything Chad did. And so, they were warning, should Kerry. "That's all right," he answered. "Let Chad be the hero. He earned the right, when I was still in college." Excerpted from Protect and Defend by Richard North Patterson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.