The Strange Case of Dr. Arlen Jekyll and Mr. Arlen Hyde

It was a dark and stormy night. (Not really, but work with me here.) Dr. Arlen Jekyll was slaving away in his office, bound and determined to be as great a defender of the United States Constitution as his nemesis from Wisconsin.

“I will question the phone companies on data mining,” Dr. Arlen said. “I will get to the bottom of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance.

“And I will not allow that blasted Feingold to be a greater defender of the Constitution than I.”

A once-highly-respected Senator, Dr. Arlen had fallen on hard times. His behavior had become increasingly erratic starting around mid-December, 2005, as if he was, in fact, two different people. First, he would call surveillance without a judge’s approval “inappropriate,” only to introduce legislation soon thereafter to allow the program. In fact, whispers in the community in recent weeks were that Dr. Arlen would introduce a bill to “reaffirm” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as “the exclusive means by which our government can conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil for foreign intelligence purposes.”

No one could predict which Arlen would show up each day to work.

Suddenly, a scream pierced the night.

“Ann Coulter again,” Dr. Arlen muttered to himself.

Then Dr. Arlen was startled by a loud rap at the door. A most unfortunate late night visitor had arrived, the Ghost of Chairman Past, known to his friends as “Orrin.”

“Arlen,” the ghost pronounced with a wave of his hand, “you will not subpoena the phone company executives.”

“No!” Dr. Arlen shouted. “Leave me alone! Can’t you see I’m trying to out-defend Feingold?” With that, Dr. Arlen fell to the floor, clutching his head, screaming in pain.

“Arlen,” the ghost commanded again, “leave the phone companies alone. And forget about FISA. It’s old law. Carter was president then.”

As he looked up, it was clear that the transformation was complete. Dr. Arlen Jekyll had become Mr. Arlen Hyde, a grotesque version of the good doctor, twisted and mangled. “Yes,” Mr. Arlen replied. “I will do your bidding. I will not question the phone companies.”

Neighbors and friends were left to wonder, “Who is Arlen?”

Andy in Harrisburg