Monday, October 31, 2005

Why The Supreme Court Matters: The Boy Scouts of America Example

The Pres and his nominee this morning.

I like to try to boil these big national issues down to their everyday importance. Here's a down-home example of the way in which the Supreme Court affects us in our lives.

President Bush visits with a delegation from the Boy Scouts of America during the presentation of the annual report by the BSA in the Oval Office Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2003.

Probably most of those who read this blog are not sufficiently involved with the Boy Scouts of America to be fully aware of the Scouts' recent battles with the ACLU. I posted on this at length in August, including the following:

That's why the assault on the Boy Scouts is important for everyone, regardless of whether you, or anyone close to you, are ever associated with the scouts. It's also why it was so important that George W. Bush be elected and re-elected President. Remember: In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the Scouts' policy against allowing openly gay adult Scout leaders to serve. The Scouts won that battle, with the Court deciding that a state may not,through its nondiscrimination statutes, prohibit the Boy Scouts from adhering to a moral viewpoint and expressing that viewpoint in internal leadership policy, and that a decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court therefore violated the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment right of freedom of association.

The Supreme Court vote in Dale was 5 to 4. There were four justices willing to uphold the New Jersey Supreme Court and prevent the Scouts from setting their own internal policies for adult leaders. If a single justice had voted the other way, the national moral standard would already be changed and the Boy Scouts as we know them would likely no longer exist.

Ask yourself: With one more justice appointed by a President Gore or a President Kerry, how would that decision have come down?

So, do presidential elections and Supreme Court appointments really matter? You bet they do.
If you're interested in the entire essay, it's here.

So it is welcome news that Samuel Alito has been nominated. We all know he will be vigorously (and probably indecently) attacked now, but my bet is he'll be confirmed as easily as Roberts was, after perhaps a lot more caterwauling by the left. Once he is confirmed, the way he votes will make a difference in the lives of all of us-- whether we are Boy Scouts leaders and parents, or simply don't want nine lawyers in Washington deciding issues best left to the legislature.

The Supreme Court Is Going to Be A Court Again; And Why This Matters

Celebrating Conservative Values:

Let's get on the bandwagon. Thanks to my new favorite blog Alamo Nation, I'm able to link to Blogs for Bush and information about the Confirm Alito Coalition. Go sign up! Also, the image above is available. Post it on your blog.

And visit Alamo's link summary. It's a good collection of good stuff.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Vote on the Alito nomination and the Nuclear Option at Hugh Hewitt's site.

Joe Wilson-Related Quote of The Day

"[O]ne must be forgiven for wondering what any of this gigantic fuss can possibly be about. I know some apparently sensible people who are prepared to believe, still, that a Machiavellian cabal in the White House wanted to punish Joseph Wilson by exposing his wife to embarrassment and even to danger. So strong is this belief that it envisages Karl Rove (say) deciding to accomplish the foul deed by tipping off Robert Novak, one of the most anti-Iraq-war and pro-CIA journalists in the capital, as if he were precisely the pliant tool one would select for the dastardly work. And then, presumably to thicken the plot, Mr. Novak calls the CIA to confirm, as it readily did, that Ms. Plame was in the agency's employ."

--Christopher Hitchens in today's Opinion Journal

Sam Alito It Is!

Well, everyone's abuzz over this. I think it is a terrific nomination. I wish we could all go back to the morning of October 3 and wake up to see Samual Alito as the nominee.

Bill Bennett was thrilled and his approach to the news was giddily positive. I'm listening warily to Ingraham and so far she has talked about the future . . . oops, she just slipped into an analysis of why Miers was such a bad choice and "all you people who supported Miers should get behind this." Well, I must say that there never has been any doubt that all we conservative "people who supported Miers" (who, by the way, outnumbered conservative people who opposed Miers) would support a conservative nominee. We're, ah, conservatives. The worry was whether your side of the debate would support the president's nominee.

Don't worry about us, Ms. Ingraham.

Let's focus on the real opposition: People for The American Way, NARAL, and all that crowd. Already they are attacking Alito as out of the mainstream, too conservative, etc. CBS Radio News, acting in its role as megaphone for the anti-Scalito group, reported Alito as a nominee "pleasing to the conservatives who torpedoed the Miers nomination." Even though I fear we have now made ideology a legitimate basis for opposing a SCOTUS nominee, the discussion must not be about Miers and conservatives. It should be about the Constitution. This guy is supremely qualified. He even went to all the schools that are important to the NRO Corner and it appears that the Cato Institute will describe him as "one of us."

This is going to be a wild ride. Let's go!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Janice Rogers Brown?

For some reason they're mentioning her at as Bush's big surprise for a SCOTUS nomination.

She'd be terrific. I suspect, however, that the White House will be thinking about confirmability more than about pleasing the base. (Sorry, fellow base members, nothing personal, just reality. Hard as it may be for to to accept, you are not the most important consideration here.) Alito is most confirmable after a fight, Luttig also, after a bigger fight. Brown would produce a political World War III because of her fiesty (although wonderful) public statements.

One thing I am wondering is whether Bush will nominate someone who will not be perceived as an outright reward to the NRO Corner and its fellow-travelers. I do think it's important for Bush not to encourage a repeat of such behavior but I am not sure it's as important as getting the right person confirmed.

Chris Cox, of course, would be ideal. But the White House is not calling me these days for my opinions about such things, so we can't count on that one.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

As We Move Forward On SCOTUS Nominees: Where Is Public Support Really?

This polling information from Gallup is worth a read by anyone seriously interested in who the next nominee will be. In the poll results, one question asked for the respondents' "Initial Reaction to Miers' Withdrawal." The data broke down as follows:
  • Of conservatives, 34% were "pleased;" 44% were "disappointed."
In other words, about one-third of conservatives were pleased that Miers withdrew. A greater number of conservatives were disappointed. Does that suggest to anyone that there was unanimity among conservatives about what Miers should do? Does anyone think that NRO's Corner and Laura Ingraham spoke for a broad spectrum of Americans on this issue, let alone conservatives?

The poll also asked for the reactions of moderates and liberals to Miers' withdrawal:
  • Of moderates, 45% were "pleased;" 33% were "disappointed."
  • 55% of liberals were "pleased;" 25% were disappointed."
As the poll analysis from Gallup notes:

The pattern of these responses follows typical lines. Conservatives and Republicans are most likely to be disappointed. This suggests rank-and-file conservatives may have been less negative about the nomination than highly visible conservative pundits and columnists. [Emphasis added.]

Still, only 44% of conservatives describe themselves as disappointed with the withdrawal, while 34% are pleased (more than one in five conservatives didn't have an opinion in response to this question).

So much for the notion that "the American people" wanted Miers to withdraw. It doesn't even seem that a majority of American conservatives wanted that to happen. So if you're a conservative who thinks that because you supported the Miers nomination, you might have been out of step with the majority of conservatives, think again.

Another set of data address this important question: Why were some people pleased that Miers withdrew? The answers are surprising: Only8% thought her views were too conservative; a tiny 4% felt her views were not conservative enough; a whopping 49% thought she lacked the necessary qualifications; and 35% thought she was too close to Bush personally.

Keep in mind, we're talking here about the people who were pleased Miers withdrew. The analysis notes, "Few of those who are pleased by the withdrawal say it was either because Miers was too conservative or because she was not conservative enough." So if you think the conservative opposition to Miers was because she was not considered ideologically "one of us," think again.

People (like me) who got their information about Miers only from the blogosphere and the punditocracy generally would never have guessed that the public has the views laid out above. There's a lesson in there somewhere about assuming the blogosphere is always representative of Americans' views.

So what does this mean? I think it still very important now to move forward and and put the recent intra-family battle behind us; I'm more and more ready to do that with each passing hour. Mr. President, bring on a solid judicial conservative! But as the president rolls out his next nominee, we need to have a firm grip on reality and where the American public seems to be, and what they might be willing to fight for (or what kind of a fight they might be willing to stand for).

I have no doubt the White House is reading polls too, and those polling data are certainly much more detailed and deep than the Gallup results above.

Still hoping for Christopher Cox. I think he'd be a great choice, for the reasons noted here. Besides, I like a good surprise now and then.

UPDATE: If you want to get your mainstream center-right conservative heart beating again, read this piece by Victor Davis Hanson.

David Frum Responds

This morning I received an e-mail from David Frum in response to my post just below. It was a private communication not intended for publication. I will say, however, that Mr. Frum's e-mail was thoughtful, cordial, and impressed me deeply. He helped me see the matter in fuller perspective and, of course, did not have to respond at all. I am beginning to feel that all of us on the conservative side might just be about to turn the corner on this thing.

My choices continue to be Cox, McConnell, Luttig, and Alito, in that order. This could be lots of fun.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Response (A Real One) from Kathryn Lopez of NRO's Corner

In response to my e-mail copied in this post below, I received today this cordial e-mail from Kathryn Lopez of NRO's Corner. Notice the stark difference in tone from the flippant reponse I got from Laura Ingraham's staff:


thanks for your e-mail.

we did say this in a widely read and cited editorial and it still stands: "And conservatives and the White House will have to restore their working relationship. Some hard and ill-considered words have been said on both sides, but it is time for all involved to follow their interests, instead of their resentments."

i won't vouch for EVERYTHING that was said on the right. and sure, a post or two on the corner may have been too snarky. comes with the territory a bit--when you're providing the quick, constant commentary the blogosphere requires. but overall, i think nro's tone was fine. our beef was never with miers as a person as so many suggest to me, it was that the president made a bad pick--too much of a gamble.

despite my casual snarky remarks now and again--see hewitt and nytimes this morning in corner--i do hope we can all move beyond this quickly and--i cringe as i sounds like bill clinton--get back to work.

thanks again. have a good weekend.


Well, okay. How can one not appreciate the good will in such a note? We need more of this from others. It will be interesting to see if David Frum comes through with a response.

Stay tuned.

And I'm still hoping for Christopher Cox.

This Time, An E-Mail To David Frum

Here's the text of an e-mail I sent this evening to David Frum. I ended up spending so much time on it that I decided to post it here. If Mr. Frum responds, I'll post whatever he says:


I just now read your David Frum's Diary post from today, and although I think the wounds to which you refer will heal, I also think it will take a while. You, fortunately, are in a position to help with that process, maybe more than anyone else because of your highly visible lead role in opposing Harriet Miers.

Many will remember those wounds for a long time. I, for example, am not sure I will ever be able to feel the same way about Laura Ingraham again. I'm also an NRO subscriber and I'm going to be seeing you folks a different way as well-- for quite some time, I suspect.

After what has happened, when I sit back and watch what you all have done, and especially the manner in which you have done it, I am not sure I am one of you. I'm a graduate of a state university and state law school, a son of "Main Street" Republicans who prized decency in human relations-- the kind of people who are true Reagan Republicans. I don't breathe the rarified air you all seem to enjoy, and I don't run in the crowds you do. I have found that I am not alone-- far from it. I run a small blog and have been interested at the number of commenters and e-mailers to me who are expressing the same feelings.

One subject I wish you'd devote some attention to is the seemingly total absence of self-examination among the fervent anti-Miers group. Clearly a lot of serious people - conservatives all - think something was terribly wrong with the way the anti-Miers conservatives approached the matter. As John Hinderaker noted on Power Line yesterday:

A lot of conservative pundits are feeling triumphant today, but there are millions of rank and file Republicans who supported the Miers nomination, many of whom--including many dyed in the wool conservatives--believed, rightly or wrongly, that the criticism of Miers from the right was arrogant and elitist. Miers was a poor choice for a number of reasons, not least because her nomination needlessly divided the party.
Despite such realities, all we seem to hear from your side of the argument is self-congratulation.

I thought this Fox News poll was revealing:

By 40 percent to 33 percent, voters think Senators were giving Miers fair consideration. When asked about the press, those numbers reversed: 40 percent said the media were treating her unfairly and 34 percent fairly.
And yet I heard Laura Ingraham interviewing George Will this morning, each reassuring the other that they had been just as fair as fair could be to Ms. Miers and President Bush. Could it be that the Left is not the only place on the political spectrum that lives in an echo chamber? And now I read your statement that "the wounds of the Miers battle are already close to healed." Wow. It's a little early for that, don't you think?

You can do something to help "put the band back together," as I heard Hugh Hewitt say yesterday. Why don't you write a column examining the unfortunate excesses of the NRO Corner and other pundits. Acknowledge that it was wrong to liken Miers to Caligula's horse and Barney the Dog, and to refer to her as the president"s "office wife," and repeatedly to call her "Harriet" instead of "Ms. Miers" or simply "Miers." (Was Chief Justice Roberts ever called "John" during his pre-confirmation days? When Alberto Gonzalez was White House Counsel, did you all call him simply "Alberto?") And please don't brush all that off by saying it was simply humor. It was not. It was indecent.

In other words, you could say, in effect, "Hey, everyone, we were right and we got the right result, but we went over the top too far and too often. Let's recognize that, foreswear such behavior in the future, and reach out to our conservative brethren. We need to march forward together now." Or, in simpler words, "We're sorry we got a little carried away. Our hearts were in the right place."

It certainly wouldn't hurt. In fact, after the next nominee is known I think it would help a lot. Perhaps an awful lot.

Give it some thought.

Lowell Bown
Los Angeles

Laura Ingraham Responds (sort of)

I've been pretty clear here about my disappointment in the conservative pundits who attacked Harriet Miers so ferociously. Laura Ingraham has figured most prominently in my posts on that subject.

Yesterday I sent this e-mail to Laura, and now I have received a response:

Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2005


The following is typical of comments I am getting to my blog posts about your approach to Harriet Miers. I thought you should see it:

"Great letter Lowell, I'm feeling exactly the same way about Laura Ingraham, and about a lot of the other people I generally admire and listen to/read. On the day of Mier's withdrawal, Laura should at least have had the decency to remove all the mocking sound clips, even as she claimed to be in a no-gloat zone. She shared crocodile tears with Bork--who said it was sad Miers had been so savaged--he, who declared her 'unable to write, except in cliches.' It was grotesque. I remember the very day after the nomination, when I heard Ann Coulter say: 'you know, some of us actually went to top law schools.' I wanted to gag. I'll never look at some of these folks the same way again."

Posted by Paul S

This is the post Paul S was responding to:

Still love your show, still hate the way you dealt with Miers.

Lowell Brown
Los Angeles, CA
Laura's response (obviously written by one of her staff):

If you think that Laura did the wrong thing after reading her speeches, then you and we just have different understandings of what it means to be a judicial conservative. Laura was right from the beginning and I suppose that is what gets some angry. Anger does not change the facts. Her writing IS filled with cliches--quoting Barbra Streisand and lauding Ann Richards? QUoting Justice Ginsberg? "Two justice systems in America"? Get real--we dodged a bullet with this one. Judge Bork was exactly right.
This response would be a little more persuasive if the issue were what Laura did "after reading [Miers'] speeches." All Laura's indecent attacks on Miers occurred before those speeches even came out.


Over the last two days Laura has been emphasizing the speeches (minor lunchtime addresses that do seem disturbing, but about which we know nothing, except what's written on the pages the Washington Post published). To hear Laura talk, those little talks justify everything she and all the others did to Miers. Fact is, the speeches had almost nothing to do with the previous three weeks of savaging Miers because no one had discovered them yet.

With rare exceptions, the attacks by the anti-Miers conservatives' were very poorly reasoned and manifestly unfair. These are smart, well-educated people (as they loved to remind us), so they definitely knew better. They are now scrambling to defend what was a neo-borking of the first order, and appear to be incapable of embarrassment or self-examination. Instead, Laura hides behind those speeches discovered at the last minute.

Even so, I am embarrassed for many of the neo-borkers. Some were responsible, but I'm afraid Laura pushed the envelope far too much for my sensibilities.

There has been no response from Laura to my longer, more focused e-mail, which I posted here. I find it interesting that she chose the e-mail above for a response. I'm still not holding my breath while I wait.

It's All About Decency, Folks

I love these words of Nazi death camp survivor Viktor Frankl:

From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two-- the "race" of the decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of "pure race"-- and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards. (Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, at 108.)

What's this got to do with Harriet Miers? That she was not treated with decency by people who should know better and are, by all appearances, decent people.

In all battles of ideas, especially law and politics, there are decent and indecent ways to approach any dispute. Over the past three weeks we have seen a lot of both. During our huge family fight within Republican conservatism, some were very decent. Too many used tactics that were simply indecent, as Hugh Hewitt notes today:

A White House counsel with distinguished credentials was compared to Caligula's horse and Barney the dog on National Review's Web site. George Will denounced as "crude" those evangelicals who thought Ms. Miers's faith was a good indication of character in a nominee and a hopeful sign on issues involving the unborn. She was labeled a crony before lunch on the day of her nomination by scores of commentators. Attacks on her competence within the White House followed immediately. She never had a chance, really.

Hugh left out Peggy Noonan's reference to Miers as President Bush's "office wife."

Decency is, I daresay, a principle that any Reagan Republican should hold dear; the Gipper all but embodied decency. No matter how vigorously Laura Ingraham, George Will, and so many of the NRO Corner crowd protest their innocence, they have not lived up to that principle. Many conservatives love to talk about principles; it's supposed to be what sets them apart from others with less enlightened worldviews. But all that lofty political theory means nothing if you don't treat people the way Reagan treated them. And the so-called "movement conservatives" who directed the destruction of Harriet Miers have a lot to answer for in that regard.

By the way, neither Laura Ingraham nor Kathryn Lopez have yet responded to my e-mails to them about their side's behavior. I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE: Kathryn Lopez did respond; her comments are posted in full here. Laura Ingraham also responded, in a characteristic manner, I'm afraid; that's posted here.

I will now get off my soapbox and hope that the president has yet another surprise up his sleeve. I'm still holding out for Chris Cox.

UPDATE: Two Minute Warning raises an aspect of this debacle that almost no one is talking about: The impact on our troops in Iraq.

Hugh Hewitt's Piece on The Damage Done by The Conservative Miers Opposition

Read it here. I don't think this is one that Laura Ingraham will be reading triumphantly on the air today, with occasional high-pitched giggles from her sidekick Lee. Disagreement with the host is simply not part of that show, at least not on the Miers issue.

The key graph from Hugh's piece:

The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around. Given the overemphasis on admittedly ambiguous speeches Miers made more than a decade ago, conservative activists will find it difficult to take on liberals in their parallel efforts to destroy some future Robert Bork.
Hugh raises an interesting and undeniable point: The next time liberals savage a Bush nominee to the bench, and try to deny that nominee an up-or-down vote, will George Will be in any position to complain? Will Laura? Or Rush? Krauthammer? Hannity? Fund? Frum? and so on?

Those folks have taken themselves out of the game. That's a real loss, because collectively they are obviously powerful and effective voices.

We'll all hold our breath and hope Bush can come up with a nominee whom the anti-Miers people find acceptable. I will never feel the same about those people, but as a conservative Republican I'm still happy to make common cause with them for a strong nominee.

UPDATE: Laura Ingraham had a mutually congratulatory interview this morning with George Will. It was actually pretty funny (not that Laura intended it that way). Laura said she thinks Harriet Miers was treated fairly, and that Miers would have fared worse had she not been a woman.

Really? Caligula's horse? Bush's "office wife?" Barney the dog? A "medocrity?" If it's fair to call Miers those things, then George Washington was a monkey. And we won't say anything about Laura's condescencion regarding Miers' sex.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Fine and Feisty Summary of Anti-Miers Venom

Take a look at Alamo Nation's post today, in which George Berryman provides day-long updates of unworthy comments by anti-Miers conservatives. George does a fine job of expressing the outrage of conservatives like me who were found the hard right's savaging of Miers so repulsive.

I especially loved this graph:

Hannity and Bork are now taking turns trashing Republicans, making the distinction (as many in the elite conservative punditocracy do) between Republicans and Conservatives. Again, as I said earlier this week, a lot of us do not see that the two necessarily need to be divided. I am both a conservative and a Republican. I am in fact a Reagan Republican. For me to claim that I am other than those two things would be dishonest.
You nailed it, George. A conservative Republican and proud to be both. I am also glad to be one of that fine breed.

One upside of the Miers debacle is the great collection of new blogs I have discovered, like Alamo Nation and The Anchoress. I really like both of them and am adding them to my blogroll. You should too!

In Which I Write to Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online

I've decided it's interesting to write to conservative pundits to see if they'll respond. So far Laura Ingraham hasn't responded to my e-mail posted below, but then again she may not be interested; her screeners have never let me on her show when I've said I wanted to disagree with her. )If you've ever listened to her show you probably know how she treats callers who do get through and try to disagree with her.)

My latest effort is this e-mail to Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online. Ms. Lopez has always struck me as a class act; she has none of the hard edge an Ingraham or a Coulter has.


Dear Ms. Lopez:

I hope this e-mail is more rational and calm than many you seem to have been getting.

I'm a blogger and a occasional "talker" on Hugh Hewitt's show. I was also in the "I'm not thrilled about Harriet Miers but let's allow her a hearing" camp. On my blog (called The Hedgehog Blog) I have been commenting on the conservative opposition to Miers, which has disappointed me greatly. I'm looking forward to the president's next choice, but what bothers me most right now is the almost complete lack of self-examination by your side of this argument. No one seems willing even to consider conceding that "Well, yes, maybe some of us did get a little carried away once or twice." I don't see that sentiment anywhere on The Corner or in talk radio. (Maybe everyone's too busy breaking out the cigars and champaigne.)

I sent this e-mail today to your fellow anti-Miers pundit Laura Ingraham and posted it on my blog today:

[I simply quote here the e-mail from my post below.]

If Laura responds I'll post that on my blog too-- at

Now, I don't mean to pick on Laura, but she was one of the more strident anti-Miers voices. If you check my blog you'll see a number of commenters who calmly and reasonably express their disappointment in Laura and others in her same camp. Meanwhile, many on your side seem to blame Bush: All the excesses were his fault, they suggest, for making the Miers nomination, which pitted conservatives against one another. That seems quite lame to me. No one forced the conservatives against Miers to go so far and so often over the top in opposing her. I think it would help us if there could be some recognition of those excesses by the folks at The Corner.

Just a thought from a small blogger and loyal conservative.

Lowell Brown
Los Angeles


As always, I will post any response I get.

What About Christopher Cox?

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox

Former Congressman Cox, now SEC Chairman, may be the perfect candidate. Consider:

  • He's recently been through the congressional approval process, which Hugh Hewitt notes is a significant advantage.
  • He's not one of the previously "anointed" group of conservative legal titans that many on the right were promoting. He is in some respects a "third way" nomination and his appointment would thus be face-saving for President Bush.
  • He's never been a judge or an academic, so he's a little like Harriet Miers in that regard.
  • The NRO Corner crowd evidently likes him. See, for example, this post on NRO by Quin Hilyer.
  • Cox is a credentialed judicial conservative.
  • He's telegenic as all get-out. Politically, the Democrats would have a terrible time trying to sink him.

The downside, as Hugh Hewitt told me when I called the show today, is that Cox has been so public with so many positions -- speeches, votes, op-ed pieces-- that the Democrats have a lot of ammunition to use in attacking him. Still, I wonder if maybe a fight like that would not be great for re-unifying and energizing the base and allowing the White House to seize some high ground again.

Here's a Wikipedia entry on Chris Cox. He went to college at USC, so Hugh will have to get over that, but otherwise he looks great. He even went to Harvard Law School, which is important to some people.

Something to think about.

Here's A Provocative Question

If President Bush nominates someone to the Supreme Court who is exactly what the conservative Miers opponents want (i.e., someone on their approved list), is he unwisely rewarding them for their inappropriate conduct in opposing Miers? Does rewarding that behavior reinforce the questionable precedent they have set in their opposition?

I am sure that is one question rattling around in GWB's clever head. Some possible others:

  • What are the other consequences of rewarding those conservative opponents?

  • Do all those consequences outweigh the considerations in favor of a Luttig or McConnell?

  • Should the president go another way entirely, one that would achieve his goals for reforming the Supreme Court without caving in to right-wing demands?
If the president chooses that last option, we might be looking at a nominee like Chris Cox, Senator Cornyn, or Senator Kyl. The reaction from all sides to any of those names would be very interesting.

My E-Mail to Laura Ingraham Today

Here it is. If she responds, I'll post that here too.

Dear Laura:

I'm just back in from my morning run here in L.A. I listen to you every day and think you are a bright spot on the radio dial. Even so, I'm disappointed and sad about what has happened with Harriet Miers, and the way you participated in that story. Miers' nomination worried me, but I thought she should have gotten a hearing. I'm a conservative, but it seemed to me we needed to be fair to her, and we were not.

You seem sensitive to charges of unfairness on your part. I rarely agree with Senator Specter, but his statement that attacks on Miers were "disgraceful" rings true with me. Your show was not among the worst offenders, but I did hear a lot of ridicule and laughter about Miers from you and your colleagues over the last 3 weeks. I don't mind when you use that tactic against Democrats and liberals, but this was a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court by a fine Republican president, in a time of war. Your hard-edged and frequently unfair criticism rankled.

Other conservative Miers opponents likened Miers to Caligula's horse. Peggy Noonan referred to her as Bush's "office wife." (That one shocked me, coming from the always-classy Noonan.) I never heard you disavow such statements, or even call for a higher road to be taken. I heard little but shrill outrage and nasty, condescending digs coming from your show for three weeks. It seemed to me that you were piling on with everyone else. So it surprises me to hear you express puzzlement over how anyone could accuse the conservative Miers opponents of misbehavior.

I am simply urging a little self-examination. John Hinderaker at Power Line, one of the most reputable and influential conservative blogs, was, like me, no fan of Miers, but said something you and your producers should bear in mind:

A lot of conservative pundits are feeling triumphant today, but there are
millions of rank and file Republicans who supported the Miers nomination, many of whom--including many dyed in the wool conservatives--believed, rightly or wrongly, that the criticism of Miers from the right was arrogant and elitist. Miers was a poor choice for a number of reasons, not least because her nomination needlessly divided the party.

We need thought leaders like you to help heal that rift. Continued hammering on Miers, or gloating, will not help. Enough already! You called your show a gloat-free zone, but it doesn't sound like one to me, not today at least.

I hope the time will come soon when I can enjoy listening to your show again.

Miers Withdraws: What Will Her Opponents Do Now?

That would be John Fund, Laura Ingraham, George Will, and Charles Krauthammer, as well as many others.

Harriet Miers has withdrawn. What I will be watching for now:

  • Will so-called "movement conservatives" re-join the fold and work with the White House, or will they demand even greater fealty from President Bush?
  • Will this victory encourage them in their view of the presidency as simply a cog in machinery they set up and which is somehow beholden to them?
  • Are they interested in healing the rift that has occurred, or will they simply charge ahead?
  • Will they be gracious about this? Do people like Ingraham and will have that kind of graciousness in them?
  • For answers to the above, watch the comments of Ingraham, Fund, Krauthammer, and the bow-tied one.
  • Will the left now be able to paint the next nominee as an extremist whom President Bush was forced to nominate by the right ring of his party, which controls him? Chuck Shumer was already saying last night that if Miers withdraws, that will show how much "sway" the right has on Bush. Expect this attack to intensify.
  • Will President Bush, who deserves to be mightily annoyed at the hard right intelligentsia and commentariat, nominate someone totally acceptable to them, or will he try to stuff an Alberto Gonzalez down their throats? I would love to see Michael McConnell, but unlike many of my conservative brethren, I am still willing to recognize that the White House has access to information about confirmability that I don't have. I hope Bush acts with more grace and responsibility than his conservative opponents have shown.
  • Perhaps most important: Has the anti-Miers attack legitimized "borking?" Make no mistake, the right borked Miers, big-time. Has the NRO Corner crowd and their followers now made ideology a legitimate basis for opposing a nominee? For more thoughts on this see Hugh Hewitt's post, which he put up prior to news of Miers' withdrawal.

I will now tune in Laura Ingraham to listen to her congratulate the president on having the wisdom and courage to recognize his mistake and do her bidding. I will try not to gag.

More seriously, I hope center-right Republicans (and the hard right, who sometimes are willing to call themselves Republicans) can put this behind us. The keys to success in that effort are held primarily by those who so ardently (and foolishly, I believe) mounted this unprecedented campaign to stop Miers before she could even have hearings.

What a mess.

UPDATE: I'm just back from my morning run, during which I listened to Laura Ingraham. (Well, I did have to switch to a music station a couple of times when she got insufferable.) She met my very low expectations. Lots of self-congratulation. David Frum and Robert Bork were both on. Frum, who certainly does have a smarmy way about him, sees this as a great day. Laura happily speculated that Bork was probably doing a "Snoopy dance" on his bed when he heard the news.

I was especially taken by Laura's expression of puzzlement that Arlen Specter would say the conservatives' attacks on Miers were "disgraceful." Laura thinks she has been very proper in her treatment of Miers. Well, I sure have heard a lot of laughter an ridicule coming from that show over the last three weeks.

When I stopped listening, Laura was launching into a fairly stentorian rant about how "the people" stopped this nomination. "The people" are smarter than all those silly commentators who thought this nomination would actually get to hearings. Laura, George Will, David Frum, Charles Krauthammer: the oracles of "the people." That's Dartmouth, Princeton, Harvard, and Harvard. Yup. Oracles of the people.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okie on the Lam (still my favorite blog title of all time) has a fine collection of thinking on this development. My favorite is this one from the Anchoress, who was actually undecided about Miers:

Believe me, whatever President Bush did “to himself,” however he has hurt his presidency by daring to nominate someone outside the pre-approved list - whatever misstep he has made - the chatterers on the right have also done plenty to hurt themselves. Their behavior over this nomination often strayed too far into personal invective and high-school sneering, and for some of us watching from the sidelines, some conservative “lights” have dimmed remarkably in our regard. While the defensive “we are NOT elitists” continued to ring out, one only had to read George Will, or a few others, to understand how very, very well some of these folks regard themselves. They regard themselves so well (and regard the rest of us too stupid to fall in line with them) that they literally made my flesh crawl. (”She’s not one of us…“)

Read her entire post. It takes the cake.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Eye-Opening Aspects of The Miers Controversy

As I listened to Laura Ingraham on the way to work this morning, I was struck by her credulous unfairness toward President Bush and Harriet Miers. Laura accepted every negative tidbit advanced against Miers, proven or not. More strikingly, Laura was trumpeting this front page story in the New York Times. She repeatedly and triumphantly referred to the story as not only front-page, but "above the fold."

Since when do conservatives turn to the New York Times as a source of unquestioned truth about Republican presidents?

The approach taken by the anti-Miers movement has been remarkably unfair to this nominee. This has not been a great moment for conservatism. I can see that because this time, I happen to on the other side of the issue, and have taken the time to be relatively well-informed about it. So I notice the little errors of fact that anti-Miers folks simply repeat as truth.

Now, I am not necessarily right about all this; I remain prepared to be convinced I am wrong. But I do see how my own ideological brethren can be unfair, short-sighted, and guilty of flabby reasoning. It's a bit of a jarring perspective-expanding lesson, even though it should not be. In the future I will bear it in mind when I am once again on the same side as those talk radio hosts and blogospheric conservatives. (It's a place I like to be, believe me.)

As for that New York Times article, let's try some critical thinking. Here's what three senators said:

"I am uneasy about where we are," said Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican on the Judiciary Committee who had so far expressed only support for the president's choice. "Some conservative people are concerned. That is pretty obvious."

Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, called Republican sentiment toward Ms. Miers's nomination "a question mark."

"There is an awful lot of Republican senators who are saying we are going to wait and see," he said.

Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican in the political middle of his party, said he needed "to get a better feel for her intellectual capacity and judicial philosophy, core competence issues."

"I certainly go into this with concerns," Mr. Coleman said.

Let's see: If you are a Republican senator and an extrardinarily large group of influential thought leaders in the right wing of your party are experiencing a public meltdown over a Supreme Court nominee, what else are you going to say-- especially before confirmation hearings have even begun? Only a fool would take that bunch on. They have great power; they will not listen to anything any senator has to say that they don't want to hear; and if you do dare to chalenge them they will attack you ferociously on the air and in print. Choosing not to pick that fight looks like a no-brainer to me.

Laura tried mightily this morning to get Senator George Allen to say the Miers nomination was in trouble, asking him directly if that is the case. He said he had questions, but we needed to wait until the hearings. Well, what a reasonable position to take!

Not only is Laura relying on the New York Times, she also read this quote from a senator who is one of the formerly-discredited Gang of 14, and about whom she usually has little good to say:

And leaving the lunch meeting on Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a Judiciary Committee member, acknowledged that senators who had met with Ms. Miers were telling colleagues that they had been unimpressed.

"She needs to step it up a notch," Mr. Graham said.
Laura, suddenly deciding that Graham was a very wise man, thought this was a very portentous statement. To me, it's pretty unsurprising that a senator from the most conservative state would hedge his bets on Miers, when people like Laura would pillory him on her national radio show if he did not. (She's pilloried Graham before.)

Apparently Laura did not consider this later quote from Sen. Graham as important as the first one:

"To support the withdrawal would be a rebuke of the president, not her, because she has not said anything yet, so that is a slam on the president, not Harriet Miers, so I don't think any Republican wants to do that," Senator Graham observed.

"The message being delivered from the White House," he added, is that she will not withdraw before the confirmation hearings."

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit this morning came from Tony Blankley, who said that if Bush withdraws Miers and nominates someone acceptable to the anti-Miers crowd, that would result in

"a principled fight between conservatives and liberals (a debate that should break in his favor at least 60 percent to 40 percent nationally on the judicial issues), rather than the current idiotically unuseful fight between blind presidential loyalists and sighted presidential loyalists."

Wow. If you support the president on the Miers nomination you're blind; if you oppose him, you're still loyal to the president, but you can see - better than the president himself can. The anti-Miers people are the ones truly loyal to GWB. They're just trying to save him from himself.

Thanks. Now I get it.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt asks all the right questions. And I love this graph from his post today:

The echo-chamber effect that plagued the Michael Moore Democrats last year may now be at work among conservative intellectuals who think they are seeing a
rising, when in fact they are witnessing the equivalent of a cyber faculty meeting meltdown over a tenure decision, on steroids.

Sounds about right to me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Triad of The Ticked-Off: An Unlikely Anti-Miers Alliance

The ongoing firestorm of protest from so many conservatives over the Miers nomination is itself a remarkable phenomenon, and is has spawned one more phenomenon: a suprising and distressing alliance among:

  • The established MSM conservative punditry;
  • The conservative blogosphere and talk radio; and
  • The established liberal mainstream media.

You might call this the Triad of The Ticked-Off, or the TTO.

Let me be clear: I do not want to antagonize the members of the TTO, who after all are my conservative and ideological brethren. I do wonder if they have paused to reflect on the damage they may doing to their own side of the larger political and cultural wars in this country.

Think about it: Established pundits like Krauthammer, Will and Fund lead the charge against a conservative Republican president's nominee to the Supreme Court; conservative blogs and talk radio are in the front columns, as evidenced by The Truth Laid Bear's compilation; and predictably liberal MSM columnists like Tom Oliphant (that reliable Friend of John Kerry), gleefully bring up the rear.

Let's suppose that this unlikely alliance gets what it wants and President Bush withdraws Miers' nomination. Where will we be? Just imagine the post-withdrawal activities of the three parts of the TTO:

Those leading the charge, like David Frum and the NRO Corner crowd, will curl up together like a clowder of cats who have just raided a canary cage. Perhaps they will hold a symposium at which Dreher, Will, Krauthammer and Fund will sadly shake their heads and point out how the president could have avoided all this if he had simply done what they wanted him to do in the first place.

The front columns, those conservative bloggers who form part of the TTO, will be licking their chops and congratulating themselves on keeping this wayward administration in line, much like Laura Ingraham is giving Bush no credit at all for his tougher stance on illegal immigration while crowing that it was conservatives who forced him to take that position (which still is not good enough for her). Having been rewarded for their intemperate and short-sighted assault on their own president, these folks will want even more fealty from the White House. Remember, many of these people are not quite sure that even John Roberts was a sufficiently conservative pick for the Court; and Laura Ingraham and Peggy Noonan think the president should cater to his conservative base, not simply respect and consult its leaders.

The rear guard, the MSM, will be happily noting Bush's capitulation to the right wing of his party, his loss of strength and the fractures within the GOP. The "story" will be all over 60 Minutes, the cable TV shows, the newspapers, and the weekly news magazines. Bush will be damaged goods in the eyes of the great majority of Americans who do not read National Review.

Oh, and what about the Democrats? They are not part of the TTO, but they're certainly fellow-travelers, who have been silently and happily watching the conservative food fight. They'll be ready to exploit the aftermath. With the willing assistance of the MSM, they will relentlessly paint the president as a captive of the right wing of his party. GOP senators and congressmen running for re-election will be distancing themselves from GWB.

Reflect on that last one with me: Do you think the GOP gains in 2002 and 2004 resulted from a weak president? I don't. Bush had long coattails in both years. Do you think he'll have them in 2006? Can you be sure? Is it worth risking? How do you like the sound of "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont?"

I haven't heard or read any thoughtful commentary from the conservative members of the TTO that responds to the damage they might be doing to their own movement. I'd really love to see some.

UPDATE: The TTO's conservative members are running TV ads urging the president to withdraw the Meirs nomination. You can watch the ads here. The message is, "We support President Bush but not the nomination of Harriet Miers." One hardly knows what to say, except that this reminds me of "We support the troops but not the war."

Also, Two Minute Offense makes a compelling argument that GWB will not withdraw Miers.

Then there's this, from a Washington Post report about someone I thought had long since retired:

"Conservatives bit their tongues quite frankly for the last four years," said Richard A. Viguerie, an architect of the conservative movement. "There's a lot of things we're unhappy with." If Bush does not withdraw Miers, he said, it could "doom his second term" because "it'll be very hard to govern without a conservative base."
That sure sounds like a threat to me.

The Bard once again comes to mind:

Read o’er this,
And after this, and then to breakfast with
What appetite you have.

William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, act 3, sc. 2, l. 201-3.

(Spoken when Henry hands Wolsey documents proving his disloyalty to the King.)

NOTE: An e-mail from reader R. Byers convinced me of the inappropriateness of my calling the Triad of the Ticked-Off the Trinity of the Ticked-Off. I've changed that, and apologize to anyone I may have offended.

Straight Talk on Illegal Immigration

[Myopic Zeal readers: Welcome, but Eric meant to refer you to this post above.]

Ruben Navarrete is a well-known Hispanic columnist who is anything but a hard-liner on illegal immigration. That's one reason this op-ed piece by Navarrette is so striking. Key graph:

Tell the parents [who are here illegally with children they brought] they made a terrible mistake when they came into the country illegally, and that they compounded that mistake every day that they stayed here without legal documentation. Explain to them that our actions have consequences and that one consequence of their decision to trespass across the border into the United States is that they and their children were destined to live lives that may never realize their full potential. Make them understand that, while they may be splendid parents in every other way, they did their children a great disservice by leaving them to wander in the shadows. Whether they can go to college is the least of their worries. I don't care if the children are honor students, they can be picked up and deported at any time. And now, unless there are substantial legislative changes -- like the enactment of the federal Dream Act championed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, which would allow illegal immigrant students to attend college -- there is not much any of us can do for these children.
It's a welcome dose of realistic thinking.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Harriet Miers-Related Quote of The Day

Miers was compared to Caligula's horse, and denounced by luminaries on the right as unacceptable because they do not know her. This is nothing like any reaction to a nominee in memory. And if there is any precedent for the president’s own supporters to turn on a SCOTUS nominee in such a fashion, I am unaware of it. In fact, I am trying to recall a single instance of any high profile nominee ever being treated in such a fashion by members of the nominating president’s own party.

--Hugh Hewitt (Read the whole thing. It's long, but worth it.)

The Most Discouraging Aspect of The Harriet Miers Controversy

Mine honesty and I begin to square.
The loyalty well held to fools does make
Our faith mere folly; yet he that can endure
To follow with allegiance a fall’n lord
Does conquer him that did his master conquer
And earns a place i’ the story.

William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (III, xiii).

The speed and merciless ferocity with with so many conservative thought leaders turned on George W. Bush was astonishing. Whatever happens with the Miers nomination, therein lies a very important and depressing lesson for Republicans: The hard right can be just as blindly vicious as the hard left. Treat its members with caution.

Meanwhile, on the encouragement front, Steve Forbes makes the case for a Bush Administration future that is far from bleak. All the President has to do is act wisely.

Ben Bernanke: Alan Greenspan's Successor-Designate

Now that President Bush has nominated Ben Bernanke as Chairmen of the Fed, it will be interesting to see how the commentariat responds.

Here's a brief bio on Bernanke. And a 2003 U.S. News profile on him, from his pre-White House days, gives insight into Bernanke the man. One graph caught my eye:

A plain-spoken man, Bernanke delivers speeches that are paragons of clarity and
simplicity, a stark contrast to those of the oracular Greenspan, who often seems
to speak in tongues. Bernanke's taking the mystery out of the secrets of the
temple," says Paul McCulley, a Fed expert at bond giant Pacific Investment
Management Co.

But there may be thunder on the right. On August 11 a writer named John Tamny warned in National Review that Bernanke would be a "dangerous" choice to head the Fed:
Much right now is being made of President Bush’s historic chance to remake the
Supreme Court. No doubt that’s true. Perhaps just as important will be Bush’s
Federal Reserve appointments, foremost of which will be Alan Greenspan’s
replacement. For his views on taxes and growth-limits alone, Bernanke would be a
big step in the wrong direction. For his views on money, Bernanke has the
potential to be very dangerous.

We'll see if the NRO Corner goes nuts over Bernanke the way they have over Miers. I hope not.

The Truth Laid Bear's Harriet Miers Blog Poll

My fellow SCBA blogger John Schroeder at Blogotional makes us aware that The Truth Laid Bear is conducting a blog poll. Here's how you participate.

My entry:

I support the Miers nomination. Maybe that will change during the confirmation hearings; my questions about the nominee can be answered only in such a setting. For now, despite a great deal of caterwauling by many, I have seen no reason not to support the nomination. Moreover, Miers was nominated by a president who, the evidence shows, "gets it" regarding the judiciary. Let's see what she has to say.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

George Will on Harriet Mier

According to Rod Dreher of National Review's Corner, George Will's column of this morning
was supposed to be the final nail in Harriet Miers' coffin. I accordingly approached Will's piece with some trepidation. What I found was a suprisingly intemperate screed against Ms. Miers and anyone who dares support her. It is so emotional, so full of sneers and condescension and internal inconsistency that I did not know where to begin in responding.

President Aristotle has taken care of that for me. His post is perfect. I cannot think of anything to add. You must read the whole thing. And I'd love to see a reasoned conservative response to the points President Aristotle makes. If you read the comments to his post the only support there for George Will (at this writing) is from someone who descends into silly name-calling. (I have blogrolled President Aristotle at left. It's a well-written blog; read it whenever you can!)

HT: Hugh Hewitt, who adds another must-read deconstruction of Will's column from a consitutional law professor's perspective.

Read 'em both.

UPDATE: After Dafydd ab Hugh's breakdown of Will's piece at Big Lizards there is not much left but a smoking bow tie on the ground. Also, John Hinderaker at Power Line seems to be cooking something up that will appear soon in The Standard.

UPDATE II: Here is John Hinderaker's Weekly Standard piece. Key graphs:

REPUBLICANS HAVE LONG TAKEN the position that, because it is the president's prerogative to select Supreme Court justices, any nominee who is qualified and doesn't subscribe to an extreme judicial philosophy should be confirmed. Some Miers critics seem now to imply a new standard by mocking Miers as undistinguished, or by pointing out how much more qualified other potential nominees would have been. Such attacks carry a hazard. Until now, the judicial confirmation process has never been seen as one where senators can reject a qualified nominee on the ground that he or she isn't the nominee the senators wanted, or the one the senators consider the best.

But many conservative critics of Harriet Miers come perilously close to urging that standard on Republican senators, in hopes that, if Miers is defeated, the president will go back to the candidate pool more favored by conservatives. But, once a handful of Republican senators have used such a rationale to vote against a Republican nominee, it requires little imaginati on to foresee how quickly the Democrats will use that precedent to justify their own opposition to essentially any Republican nominee, no matter how well-qualified or mainstream.

This is compelling to me. What's the anti-Miers response?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Weekend Posting: And Now for Something Completely Different

It's time for a break from Harriet Miers, Joseph Wilson and Plamegate, politics, and all that unpleasantness. Frequent contributor, former law partner, Orthodox Jew, good friend, and all-around mensch Ralph Kostant contributes some religious news from his side of the fence:

Forget about Madonna, Aston Kutcher, Demi Moore and the Kabbalah Center on Robertson Boulevard. Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, a 104-year old rabbinical scholar and mystic, is a real Kabbalist. This article from Arutz Sheva, Israel National News Service, describes what Rabbi Kaduri announced to his astonished students and fellow worshipers on Yom Kippur, this past Thursday. Rabbi Kaduri had announced just before Yom Kippur that the Jews in the Diaspora should now move to the Land of Israel to avoid dangers from forthcoming natural disasters. On Yom Kippur he stated, “With the help of God, the soul of the Messiah has attached itself to a person in Israel.”

Rabbi Kaduri was born in Iraq, and studied as a child under the famous Baghdadi Rabbi, Yosef Chaim, known as “the Ben Ish Chai” [“the Living Man”], after the title of his most famous work. [Incidentally, in 1901, when Rabbi Kaduri was born, Jews constituted the largest single ethnic group in Baghdad, outnumbering Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds. Less than 60 years ago, there were 125,000 Jews living in that city. Now, after over a century of murders, oppression, and flight, only about 20 Jews are left in Baghdad. Think of that the next time that Israel is accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian Arabs.] The Ben Ish Chai, who died when Rabbi Kaduri was 8 years old, is said to have blessed his young student, saying that Yitzhak Kaduri would live to see the revelation of the Messiah. Rabbi Kaduri immigrated to Palestine in 1914, at the age of 13.

As noted in the article, on September 24, 2001, in commenting on the destruction of the World Trade Center, Rabbi Kaduri said that the Biblical war of Gog and Magog, which in traditional Jewish belief precedes the revelation of the Messiah and the final redemption of the Jewish people, would begin on Hoshana Rabbah, which in 2001 fell on October 7, and would last for 7 years. On October 7, 2001, United States and British aircraft began the aerial bombardment of Afghanistan, commencing the invasion of that country, the overthrow of the Taliban and onset of the War Against Terror.

Incidentally, a number of people, noting that Magog means “from Gog” and that the name George, when spelled in Hebrew is close to “Gog”, have suggested that the war of Gog and Magog, refers to “George who is from George,” i.e., President George W. Bush, the son of President George H. W. Bush.

Readers should note that in traditional Jewish belief, the Messiah is not divine or an incarnation of God, but rather a fully mortal human being.

Regarding his warning to Jews in the Diaspora, no, I am not planning to immediately move to Israel—more’s the pity.

Ralph B. Kostant
I have frequently teased Ralph that in my book the Messiah's planning His second coming, not His first, but there is room for many beliefs on this old planet of ours-- as long as you live in the United States of America.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pierre Prosper: A Rising California GOP Star Attracts Some Early Mud

Here's an all-too-familiar scenario: A very appealing young public servant lets it be known he plans to run for statewide office in California, and immediately the hit pieces start flying-- and lying.

Evidently, that's what has happened already to Pierre Prosper, pictured at left, who is now leaving his post as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in order to seek the California Republican Party's nomination for Attorney General. Here's a newspaper article about his announcement.

On October 5, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a flattering article about Ambassador Prosper. Apparently this was very alarming to some people, who for some reason are offended (frightened?) by the notion of an attractive, accomplished, well-spoken young African-American Republican running for statewide office in California.

Wait a minute. Did I just say "attractive, accomplished, well-spoken young African-American Republican?" Yes, I did. Wouldn't you think the California GOP would welcome an office-seeker with that profile?

I think the GOP in general does and will welcome Prosper, with open arms. Unfortunately, it looks like some political bottom-feeders, who may be allied with established party machinery, are on the attack already.

Who Is Pierre Prosper?

Before we get into all the distortions and falsehoods, here are some basic facts: President Bush nominated Ambassador Prosper to his current position; he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001. The Ambassador has a long list of accomplishments; his official State Department biography is here. After reading his bio, go ahead and Google the Ambassador's name; you'll be impressed.

[Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose. I have never met Pierre Prosper, although people I respect greatly are supporting him. I do know a disingenuous political hit piece when I see one, however.]

Lying And Distortion Start Early

Some California Republicans who claim to be Reaganites have never accepted Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican." The latest evidence of that is in this e-mail, which has been circulating since October 14. Comments are in italics:

PW 75
October 14, 2005


Regrettably, undermining the Governor and the CRP on Prop. 77 (as illustrated in PW 74) isn't the only way in which Dora Kingsley is carrying on the [sic] Gerry Parsky's inverted brand of political genius. [The guilt by association starts right away. Dora Kingsley is a Sacramento-based political consultant with ties to Gerry Parsky, a California millionaire who is deeply unpopular with many conservative activists in the state. Your "this is a hit piece" antennae should be raised now.]

Now she is importing a Beltway bureaucrat with no ties to California Republican activism to run against Sen. Chuck Poochigian for Attorney General. [Notice the use of hot-button buzz words: "Beltway bureaucrat." Read on and see if you think that is a fair description of Pierre Prosper. Also, you might start wondering what it means to have "no ties to California Republican activism." Doesn't that sound like "not one of our insiders?"]

Or rather, it [sic] Gerry Parsky doing the importing, since Dora is his handmaiden. [Uh-oh, guilt by association again-- with a mocking, demeaning insult thrown in to boot. By the way, I don't know Dora Kingsley from Adam.]

So who is this mystery candidate? Monsieur Pierre-Richard Prosper, currently the "Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes." OK, he's not a "monsieur" but with a name like Pierre DASH Richard, it just seemed to fit. [I hardly know where to begin on this one. Words like "low-brow" and "troglodyte" come to mind to describe this type of political discourse.]

Pierre-Richard is not a California [sic], but a native New Yorker. OK - lots of Californians are transplants. But Pierre-Richard hasn't lived in California for years -- he even deactivated his bar license for three and a half years until this past July (presumably in anticipation of running). Even worse, the history of GOP activism Pierre-Richard does possess has been devoted to the land of Rockefeller Republicanism - New York.

[This seems like the right place to note that other than his duties in the Bush Administration and prosecuting criminals in Rawanda, Ambassador Prosper's entire legal career, starting with law school at Pepperdine University, has been in Southern California. As a federal government employee at the ambassadorial level, the Ambassador probably thought he would not be using his California bar membership, so he elected not to pay bar dues needlessly for several years until he returned. Makes sense to me.]

He made five donations to NY candidates between 1999 and 2002:

$250 2000
250 2001
250 2002

REP. RICK LAZIO (Hillary's foe)
$ 500 2000

[That one seems like a badge of honor to me. I gave money to Lazio too. Is there something I should know about why that makes me less than a full member of the California GOP?]

$ 250 1999

OK, so at least Pierre-Richard gave money to Republicans (even though none of it was to California candidates). That's some kind of record. [As my 15 year-old son might say, "Huh?"]

Unfortunately, so is Pierre-Richard's service under Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno, as a special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. [Truth alert: it's my understanding that Prosper was an assistant U.S. attorney, or AUSA, at the time and was given the special assistant title so that he could be detailed to the Dept. of State to work on war crimes prosecutions. Although all U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the president, AUSA positions are non-political; they are career prosecutors and any U.S. attorney's office is full of AUSA's who are Republicans and Democrats.]

No self-respecting Republican who took their party allegiance seriously would have served in the politicized Clinton/Reno Justice Department. [See comments above!] Yet, Gerry Parsky and Dora Kingsley apparently think it makes him eminently qualified to be the Republican nominee for Attorney General. But hey - this is the same Gerry Parsky who's proud to work with Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to devise lists of judicial nominees for President Bush's consideration. [Guilt by association again. There's no evidence here that Pierre Prosper even knows Parsky-- assuming it even matters if he does.]

No doubt Pierre-Richard Prosper is a fine American. [The typical and obligatory nod toward decency in a hit piece.] But what earthly reason is there to make him the California Republican nominee for Attorney General? He's never worked on behalf of the party here, much less lived here, and has no roots here. [Hit-piece antennae are raised again. To say that Prosper has never lived here is an obvious falsehood, so the claims that he's never done party work and has no roots here are suspect too.] He's hired as his consultant Parsky's familiar, Dora Kingsley, who is winding her way around the political circles pitching that Parsky supports Pierre-Richard in hopes there are still some donor zombies who think Parsky is a mastermind. [Oops, a descent into name-calling. Another loss of credibility!]

Not least of all, this is a fine way for Parsky to thank Debbie Poochigian for helping him out as his 17-County Central Valley chair. The Pierre-Richard Prosper maneuver is par for the Parsky course. It's a classic Parsky combination of being simultaneously classless and clueless: divide the party, pick a non-political "Republican" (from 3,000 miles away , no less) to challenge a loyal one, and cause Republicans to waste resources in a primary -- which makes only Jerry Brown and Rocky Delgadillo happy. [I guess Prosper's candidacy is supposed to be Parsky's idea. Do you share my doubts, since there is not one shred of support for that notion in this e-mail hit piece?]

Not content with the buffoonery of the faux gubernatorial campaign he and Dora cooked up last year, Gerry Parsky -- in the great tradition of cozying up to Feinstein and Boxer - now wants to help out Jerry Brown.

Welcome back, Gerry.
This e-mail appears to be associated with a web site called Parsky Watch, although I can't find a hit piece no. 75 there. If you're interested in other pre-announcement hit pieces against Prosper, here is another one, quite similar to the one above.

What Does The Future of This Campaign Look Like?

We will be learning much more about Pierre-Richard Prosper in the coming weeks. I think he's an exciting candidate, someone the California Republican Party should have been recruiting to return to the state and run for office. He's certainly more interesting than just another GOP state senator who is "termed out" and now seeks to move up to a statewide office, which, I'm afraid, is just what Senator Poochigian looks like.

Contrast that background with that of Ambassador Prosper: I understand that for the past couple of years, he has been involved in nothing less than Indiana Jones-style exploits -- motor boat trips up the Congo River, stints in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the like. Now, of those two candidates, which one would you rather be making a campaign commercial for?

Let's have a campaign, and let's see which one the GOP primary voters pick. I trust the voters a lot more than the party machinery, which, well, hasn't got a lot to show for its recent efforts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

100,000 Hits on The Hedgehog Blog

Just hit that number a minute or two ago and thought I'd mark the occasion.

In the spirit of the moment, this seems appropriate:

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Survey Data on GOP/Conservative Opinions of Miers

Some commenters on my post below shrugged off the SurveyUSA poll numbers, arguing that even though conservatives merely view Miers favorably, it doesn't follow that they support her nomination.

OK, maybe so. But these additional data from SurveyUSA suggests otherwise. The question asked was:

Do you think the nomination of Harriett Miers to the Supreme Court will be seen by historians as one of President Bush's most brilliant decisions? as one of President Bush's greatest mistakes? Or will it have no historical significance?
The responses show that 27% of Republicans and 25% of conservatives think the Miers pick is a brilliant decision. (Who are these people? Even I don't think that.) 14% of Republicans and 22% of conservatives think the pick is Bush's greatest mistake. 55% of Republicans and 48% of conservatives think Miers' nomination will be of no historical significance. Those data certainly show some unhappiness (twice as many of them think Miers is BUsh's greatest mistake), but they still leave me wondering if it is not just a vocal minority and the elite right-wing punditry who are upset about Miers.

Just How Widespread Is Conservative Opposition to Miers?

According to this survey by Survey USA:

  • 43% of Republicans have a favorable impression of Harriet Miers; 12% have an unfavorable impression. 43% have no impression yet.

  • 44% of conservatives have a favorable impression; again, 12% unfavorable.

  • Moderates and liberals tend to have a much less favorable view of Miers.
Study the numbers and tell me what you think. What I draw from this is that the storm of opposition to Miers is coming from a small minority of Bush's base. Even so, the GOP cannot afford for those people to stay home on election day 2006 over this. For them to do so would be foolhardy, but that doesn't mean they won't do it. I hope they don't.

UPDATE: More on this in the post immediately above.

(HT: Real Clear Politics.)

Do We Need Elite Supremes?

The Reverend Frederick Poorbaugh sent me the following fine analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court and its current elite educational foundation. [NOTE: Commenter Mark G. reminds me below that this material appeared Oct. 11 on Hugh Hewitt's blog. Oops. I received it from Rev. Poorbaugh that same day, then lost the e-mail until today. As I posted the reverend's e-mail this morning, I thought it looked familiar. In any case, it's worth reading again.]


1. The Justices who served this year on the Supreme Court have highly elite educations.

The ten earned FIFTEEN degrees from Stanford, Harvard or Yale.

The highway to the SCOTUS goes through Stanford and Harvard. Rehnquist and O’Connor earned their undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford. Souter and Roberts earned both from Harvard. Kennedy and Breyer took a path that for elites constitutes diversity: Stanford, then Harvard. A secondary route goes through Catholic colleges to the elite law schools. Scalia (Georgetown/Harvard) and Thomas (Holy Cross/Yale) came up this way. The third way was geographically limited. Ginsburg stayed in New York State in the lower tier of the Ivy League (Cornell/Columbia). Stevens attended the best private schools in Illinois (Chicago/Northwestern).

Eight of the ten earned a total of fifteen degrees from Stanford, Harvard or Yale. The other two held degrees from very good private universities.

The ten Justices with their undergraduate and law degree universities:

William Rehnquist

Sandra Day O’Connor

David Souter

John Roberts

Anthony Kennedy

Stephen Breyer

Antonin Scalia

Clarence Thomas
Holy Cross

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

John Paul Stevens

(The 15th degree: Rehnquist also earned a Master’s from Harvard.)

2. President Bush’s short list shows no such elitism.

These twelve hold TWO degrees from Stanford, Harvard or Yale.

Alito is elite (Princeton/Yale) and Wilkinson semi-elite (Yale/Virginia). The others hold degrees from good public (Virginia, Michigan) or private (Notre Dame, Baylor) universities, but also from some pretty obscure (Cal State Sacramento, Culver-Stockton College) institutions.

The twelve possible nominees with their undergraduate and law degree universities.

Samuel Alito

J. Harvey Wilkinson

Janice Rogers Brown
Cal State Sacramento

Edith Clement

Emilio Garza
Notre Dame

Michael Luttig
Washington and Lee

Michael McConnell
Michigan State

Harriet Miers

Maura Corrigan
Univ. of Detroit

Priscilla Owen

Larry Thompson
Culver-Stockton College

Edith Jones

3. The President values quality jurisprudence over elite education.

President Bush earned degrees from Yale and Harvard. He knows the culture of the elite universities, and has decided that a Supreme Court Justice does not need it.

I believe he is acting wisely: not only from trusting his judgement, but because I happen to have earned degrees from Stanford (philosophy of law) and Yale (divinity). Both places are full of very smart people. Unfortunately, they have become so politically correct that they no longer offer liberal education in the classic sense. Worse, they foster an unspoken contempt for the great unwashed masses for whom they presume to speak. The President’s phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations” fits this culture of contempt. Their graduates can rationalize anything, but often lack common sense.

4. Compare Anthony Kennedy and Harriet Miers in intelligence, principle and courage.

Anthony Kennedy has degrees from Stanford and Harvard. He has intelligence, but he does not think clearly because he lacks principle: one day he is ready to reverse Roe v. Wade, the next day he is voting to establish abortion on firmer ground. His hazy worldview combines the guilty angst of a liberal Catholic with the lusting after legacy of an unprincipled politician. Hence, he lacks courage: instead of upholding the Constitution, he follows politically correct European opinions.

Compare Harriet Miers. Earning two degrees from SMU does not necessarily imply marginal intelligence. The top few percent of students at many universities may be equally smart; it’s the bottom 80% who differ vastly. Miers’ work record demonstrates the intelligence to function comparably to most of the Justices. (I would love to see a nominee like Scalia and Roberts - head and shoulders above the other Justices intellectually - who is also both an originalist and a conservative. I do not know of any since Robert Bork.) Miers should prove principled, because her evangelical worldview is firmly grounded in America’s Christian heritage. Will she have courage? My apprehension comes from having worked in the pro-life cause for decades without knowing anyone profoundly pro-life who has never said so publicly, but this apprehension applies equally to Roberts.

5. President Bush in nominating Miers raises the question: do we need elite Supremes?

He thinks not. He has a good case.

Like many others, I was looking forward to an in-your-face nomination followed by a hard fight and probable win in the Senate. When the President looked at the Senate and saw the Specter waiting in ambush, the Gang of Seven fragging Frist from behind, and the RINOs with their skirts over their heads (and those were his own troops!) he may seen too great a risk of a loss. President Bush appears to have chosen a strategy to win the War for the Court without fighting the Battle of the Senate. I hope his strategy succeeds. If it fails, it won’t be because we need elite Supremes.


Thanks, Fred. It is encouraging to find other conservatives who are willing to allow the president some leeway in exercising his Constitutional prerogatives.