A Bork Without the Bite

To his Senate questioners, the nominee proves a moving target

Judge Robert Bork, the fire-breathing right-wing ideologue who would wreak havoc on U.S. law, did not show up at the Senate Caucus Room last week. Neither did Robert Bork, the quick-witted charmer, "the bearded Ollie North," who would obliterate his opposition. The 14 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee met a different Robert Bork last week, one who did not quite fit the images drawn by either his liberal critics or his conservative boosters.

Through five days of testimony, Bork portrayed himself as a questing thinker who had mellowed with time. In the process, he modified or danced away from several...