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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR MIERS: Thomas Lifson of The American Thinker says conservative critics of the Miers nomination need to take deep breath, chill, relax, and generally stop worrying. His main point: Don't sell the president short. He's keenly aware that Bush 41 blew it on Souter and he has intended not to make the same mistake.
President Bush is a politician trained in strategic thinking at Harvard Business School, and schooled in tactics by experience and advice, including the experience and advice of his father, whose most lasting political mistake was the nomination of David Souter. The nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court shows that he has learned his lessons well. Regrettably, a large contingent of conservative commentators does not yet grasp the strategy and tactics at work in this excellent nomination.

Monday, October 03, 2005

THAT'S KIND OF THE POINT, SEAN: Sean Hannity says he doesn't share the dismay of Bill Kristol and other leading conservatives about Bush's choice of Harriet Miers. Responding to fears that she might be a closet moderate, Hannity on his radio show today rose to the president's defense with these stirring words:
"We just don't know."
Until we know more about her views, Hannity continued, pessimism is unwarranted. Think about that for a second. George W. Bush had a chance to nominate any number of highly qualified jurists whose views were well known and unabashedly acceptable to leading conservatives. Instead, Bush goes and nominates someone that one of the leading public voices of broadcast conservativism praises thus: Be patient, time may show Miers not to be another O'Connor. Hey, Sean: Wouldn't you rather be crowing about the conservative bona fides of the second Bush nominee, rather than making a virtue of her essential anonymity? Is that the standard you're prepared to set for a political movement that traces its lineage to Ronald Wilson Reagan? I don't want to come off as a crank here. I'm fully prepared to let Miers make her case. But, in the meantime, maybe leading pro-Bush conservatives can let up on their insistence that not having a dreaded "paper trail" is a mark of virtue. Patrick J. Buchanan, whose journalistic paper trail is long and not filled with ambiguous side roads, makes a very good point when he opines:
A paper trail is the mark of a lawyer, a scholar or a judge who has shared the action and passion of his or her time, taken a stand on the great questions, accepted public abuse for articulating convictions. Why is a judicial cipher like Harriet Miers to be preferred to a judicial conservative like Edith Jones? One reason: Because the White House fears nominees “with a paper trail” will be rejected by the Senate, and this White House fears, above all else, losing. So, it has chosen not to fight. Bush had a chance for greatness in remaking the Supreme Court, a chance to succeed where his Republican precedessors from Nixon to his father all failed. He instinctively recoiled from it. He blew it. His only hope now is that Harriet Miers, if confirmed, will not vote like the lady she replaced, or, worse, like his father’s choice who also had “no paper trail,” David Souter.
HARRIET MIERS: I woke early (West Coast time) to learn that the president would shortly announce Harriet Miers to replace Connors. My response was visceral: disappointment. Like Roberts, she's got a fine resume, and no paper trail or controversial ideological history. On both counts, she stands to nettle the left as they fail to draw her into tar pits of their choosing. Still, I wanted a fight on principles, a battle of the kind that a Janice Rogers Brown nomination would have provoked. Did I actually expect him to nominate an "ideologue" (supposedly a bad word) of Brown's caliber? Not really. Surely Rove argued strenuously against spending limited political capital on a pitched Supreme Court battle. Fine; I'm enough of a realist to understand that. Since Bush clearly wanted a woman, why not one of the Ediths — Jones or Clement? I have no problems with picking a non-judge. Nor someone who doesn't wear her ideology on her sleeve. What I don't like is a faith-based nomination process. Now I'm keenly aware that Bush has fought hard to get good appellate judges to the bench: Brown, Pryor, Owen. And I freely admit that Bush has therefore already gone considerable distance to prove his role models are Scalia and Thomas. So for these reasons, a good case can be made for giving the president the benefit of the doubt about having vetted her views, when he says: "I know her heart. I know her character." Let's hope that turns out to be code for "I promised I'd change the Supreme Court and as time passes I'm certain conservatives will be pleased with Harriet Miers on the big issues." Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, which worked in support of Roberts' nomination, isn't worried:
"No president in recent memory has done such a great job of choosing jurists who are faithful to the Constitution."
I've learned to trust my visceral responses, but not absolutely. So, yes, I'm disappointed, but I'm altogether open to being positively surprised in the long run. Maybe Bush and Rove are as canny in pursuing conservative goals as I like to hope they are. Maybe Harriet Miers will, for once, be the right kind of stealth justice — the kind who shifts the balance of the court away from the Souter-Kennedy bias. "Hope" and "maybe" aren't the words I wanted to be using about Bush's second pick, with its inevitable aura of cronyism. All that said, I have no regrets about how the Miers nomination denies the doctrinaire left the kind of opportunity for a full-blown fundraising bonanza that would have come with a Brown nomination. But that's kind of like saying, after a tornado, "Well, at least the foundation's still there." Not to push the metaphor, but can anyone say what Bush's "foundation" is at this point in his presidency? He's right about terror, he's sensitive to issues of faith, he's correct about low taxes. His domestic spending habits have been compared to FRD's. Tammy Bruce is less generous: Bush is morphing into Jimmy Carter. Ouch.