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Monday, October 10, 2005

WITHDRAW THE NOMINATON: I expressed doubts but held my fire about the Harriet Miers nomination when it was announced, hoping evidence of her qualifications would emerge after the initial disappointment. To the contrary, this nomination looks worse every day. Some conservatives advocate waiting for the hearings, but for those who waited two decades for this moment what we already know about Harriet Miers makes clear she's not suited to serve on the Supreme Court, especially given the many qualified conservative jurists. George Will, Charles Krauthammer, John Fund and Peggy Noonan all make excellent cases that President Bush has blown a remarkable opportunity. But I see almost no chance that she'll step aside or that Bush will withdraw the nomination — certainly not before the hearings begin. I agree with Noonan:
...It's going to come down to Harriet Miers's ability to argue her own case before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the American people decide she seems like a good person--sympathetic, wise, even-keeled, knowledgeable--she'll be in; and if not, not.
The larger question is how much damage Bush has done to chances of getting anything important accomplished during the remainder of his term. Yes, three years is a long time and the president could recover. But if the Miers nomination causes Bush to lose the passion of his conservative base, it's hard to see who the president will rally to his cause. Conservatives bit their tongues about Bush's domestic spending habits because he was good on the war on terror and, frankly, because the left is too nutty to take seriously. Feeling betrayed by Bush's nomination of Miers, conservatives may give up on the White House and begin looking to elect a small government, reduced domestic spending, strong national defense president in 2008. The most sickening prospect is that if Bush continues to plummet, many Americans might think it's time to put the Democrats back in charge, beginning with the control of the Senate in 2007. If that happens, there goes the Supreme Court for the rest of our lives. Sorry to sound so depressing, but this is the way the world looks to me this morning. At this moment, Bush 43 is looking a lot like Bush 41, and the likeness isn't appealing. Here's Andrew Sullivan:
[Bush is] responsible for a dynasty as much as a democracy. Miers is the dynasty's constitutional guardian - as well as potentially a minimalist Justice, in line with Roberts. No other candidate could fulfill both roles. Bush, in other words, is treating the Court as a means for personal protection and dynastic noblesse oblige. The question is simply whether the GOP wants to become the vehicle for a crony-ridden aristocracy or something more transparent and meritocratic. I know which GOP I prefer. But those days keep receding further and further into the past.
The president could have used this moment to fight a real fight for the O'Connor seat; Edith Jones or Edith Clement would have been terrific nominees — and confirmable. Instead, he nominated Harry Reid's preferred candidate. "Trust me"? Please. Private whisperings may be enough for James Dobson; not for me. And listen to this from Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention: "In Texas, we have two important values, courage and loyalty... If Harriet Miers didn't rule the way George W. Bush thought she would, he would see that as an act of betrayal and so would she." This sounds like a loyalty oath from feudal Europe! Understand: Land is arguing in her favor. My head hurts. I think I'll go get out my videotapes of Ronald Reagan speeches, to remind myself of principled leadership at its finest.