It's been a busy couple weeks for the president of the United States.

It's been a busy couple weeks for the president of the United States.

He's had to deal with the swine flu, Arlen Specter switching parties and escalations in sectarian violence in Iraq.

Finally, the president gets a break - packs up the station wagon, grabs the kids, a beer ball and an REO Speedwagon 8-track. He's just about to hit the open road when ... boom! Supreme Court Justice David Souter announces his plans to retire.

First of all, who is this guy? Nobody even knew he was on the bench and now he's quitting? He's only 69! What part of "lifetime appointment" don't you get, Souter?

Kennedy and Scalia are in their seventies, and Ginsburg has pancreatic cancer and she's still banging out opinions. Justice Stevens has been dead since 2006, and he's still there. That's how much he respects the institution. Even Judge Judy has served longer than Souter.

Now that Souter is retiring and what he thinks is no longer relevant to the nation, let's get to know him.

Justice Souter didn't talk a lot, and he was somewhat limited in terms of his interaction with people. He lives a minimal life and he is somewhat quiet and bookish. He avoided using cell phones, and he is looking forward to going back to his home, a cabin in New Hampshire.

A quiet woodsman who hates technology ... oh my god, he's the Unabomber!

So why retire now, when most justices are only getting started? He once said he had the world's best job in the world's worst city. By the way, the flipside to that is being a eunuch in Humptown.

You can't find a contest that cuts more passionately to what the American people care about than the hunt for a new Supreme Court justice. So, the president must be very careful when listing the qualifications he seeks in a nominee.

"I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind who honors our constitutional traditions," Obama said. "Someone who respects the integrity of the judicial process ... who has a quality of empathy ... and shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded."

That's pretty vanilla stuff, but to give you a sense of how touchy this issue is, guess which qualification aroused ire?

"That 'empathy' quotient is code word for jurisprudential social engineering," said Republican strategist Mary Matalin.

" 'Empathy,' what does that mean?" asked Sen. Orin Hatch. "Usually that's a code word for an activist judge."

"That is a singularly loopy idea for a qualification for a justice," said Fox News' Alisyn Camerota.

No empathy! We want a reptile on the court.

You may not agree with empathy, but it's not a loopy qualification. "Must have van" - that would be a loopy qualification.

You know what I love? People who explain that empathy is a code word for an activist judge, which in turn is a code word for pro-choice.

They're helping us break the code with more code. What is this, an episode of Lost?