Thanks to today’s events, the American people and I are working at cross purposes: my loss is the nation’s gain.

In particular, Michael Chertoff is the new nominee to be Secretary of Homeland Security. Currently, Chertoff is serving as a federal appellate judge—and I had agreed to work as one of his law clerks next year. If, as seems likely, he’s confirmed, I’ll be out of a job.

I met a fair number of judges during the mad rush that is the clerkship application season. Even among such brainy company, Chertoff stood out. The man is smart, articulate, and thoughtful—and although he downplayed his knowledge of technology law, we had an interesting conversation about online issues. I was impressed.

Regular Lab readers know I don’t tend to think highly of the intelligence or the integrity of the George III regime, but Chertoff is the real deal. Everyone I hear from who was at Justice during his time there sings his praises, be they lefty or righty. I’d been looking forward greatly to working for him.

Thus I don’t know what I’ll be doing professionally in the fall, but I do know I’ll be sleeping easier at night.

(And no, he doesn’t look like Mr. Burns. A skull, perhaps, but Mr. Burns, no.)