August 4, 2002


Loss Shadows Solicitor General's Victories (NEIL A. LEWIS, August 4, 2002, NY Times)
It has been a remarkable 20 months for Theodore B. Olson, a time of gratifying achievements and one dreadful event that shadows all.

In December 2000, Mr. Olson, successfully argued one of the most historic Supreme Court cases, Bush v. Gore. The 5-to-4 ruling on the balloting in Florida made George W. Bush president. Last month, when the Supreme Court completed its latest term, Mr. Olson's reputation as a skilled appellate lawyer was further strengthened; as solicitor general of the United States, the government's chief advocate before the court, he had won all eight cases he argued.

But those triumphs of his career are bookends to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in which his wife, Barbara K. Olson, died on the plane that was flown into the Pentagon. He last spoke with her when she called him twice on her cellphone from the back of plane, where she had been herded with the other passengers and the pilots.

"She asked me, `What should I tell the pilot?' " Mr. Olson recalled at his Great Falls, Va., home later that day. "She was trying to do something."

On the second call, he told his wife what had happened at the World Trade Center, making clear the danger she and her fellow passengers were in.

He said that he was unsure whether to tell her what he knew as it came with a crushingly stark message, but that "we shared everything with each other."

Has ever a word seemed less suited to the task before it than in a reference to what General Olson has been through since December 2000 as "remarkable"? Posted by Orrin Judd at August 4, 2002 11:39 AM
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