As "Miers Fatigue" Sets In, Here Are Some Questions I'd Like to See Answered
The object of all this conservative displeasure.
1. Why did President Bush make a nomination that infuriates the base? This one's been nagging me from the beginning. There are several possible reasons, and only one of them is even arguably good:
- Maybe Bush did not realize how angry his base would be over the the Miers selection. If true, this is bad news about the White House's political "tin ear." This is worrisome. The GOP simply cannot afford for its base to stay home during the 2006 elections.
- Maybe Bush knew the decision would infuriate and disappoint the base, but didn't care because he wanted to do what he wanted to do. There is a little of this stubbornness in the president's character (usually manifested as tenacity, which is a good thing). I hope this is not the reason for the Miers nomination.
- Now for the one explanation that, although it makes some sense, leaves me cold: Maybe Bush knew that nominating Miers would infuriate and disappoint the base, but decided to accept that outcome based on political considerations. Maybe Karl Rove has polling data showing that another nasty fight would risk serious negative consequence for the administration's other priorities. The Democrats won't (or can't) mount the vitriolic, over-the-top battle that everyone expected, and Bush gets onto the Court someone he trusts, and who will consistently vote with Scalia and Thomas. Not a star, but someone who will reliably vote along conservative, non-activist lines.
3. How will Miers perform in her confirmation hearings? This will be very interesting, especially after the pounding she has taken from conservatives. For the first time the MSM and the conservative blogosphere will be allies, in a grotesque irony. They will all be watching for the tiniest misstep on Miers' part and will be prepared to pounce. If she can hold up under that onslaught, she is someone really special.
UPDATE: This afternoon Hugh Hewitt once again displayed questionable judgment by allowing me to be on his show, during the John Fund segment. (Thanks, Hugh.) As I noted then, Miers has to be the most ticked-off woman in America right now. After all she has accomplished (and it is a heck of a lot) she has been forced to sit by and watch while a bunch of people who don't know her argue strenuously that she lacks that certain something that SCOTUS justices need. I don't know Miers either but a woman with her achievements may well be quite energized by all of this. If so, when the hearings start she will be loaded for bear, and many of her conservative critics may well be left looking pretty sheepish (and trying to recover their lost credibility).
4. Will she be confirmed? There appears to be growing doubt about this. The conservative front that has formed against her (Krauthammer, Ingraham, Will, Fund, and others) is certainly pushing opinion that way. Just look at Laura Ingraham's website and see the campaign she has going.
5. If she is not confirmed, what will be the effect? Will that simply be a blip on the political radar screen (Laura thinks so), or will it leave the president weaker? I don't know. This question deserves more honest and sober analysis than it is getting from Miers' critics. I find Hugh Hewitt's take compelling:
President Bush has made a different calculation. It isn't the one I would have made, but that's no excuse to wage a campaign of self-destructive (to the GOP coalition) recrimination that endangers the Senate majority in the long term by endangering gains that might be made in 2006.6. If Miers is indeed confirmed, will conservative pundits regain their focus? I've posted below how so many of them are making emotional arguments that cannot stand scrutiny. My much-esteemed Laura Ingraham said today that prior to serving on the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist may have been apracticing lawyer like Miers, but spent his career "immersed in constitutional issues." Really? It doesn't look that way on this bio. Laura also spent half her show today running clips from Pat Buchanan's statements over the weekend on the talk show circuit. Last time I checked Buchanan had achieved borderline crackpot status. Now Laura's quoting him as a tribune of the conservative masses. On the other hand, it looks like Power Line is beginning to take a more measured and responsible approach.
This fiasco comes at a time when the last thing the GOP needs is a disillusioned, angry base that feels betrayed. History has shown that Republicans who feel that way don't defect; they just stay home. All this leaves me thinking that the Miers nomination is either a colossal political blunder by the White House, or a misstep that the party will eventually get over once the ruffled feathers are smoothed down. I cannot see it as a brilliant master stroke, and I find it terribly hard to explain. I also find the responses of many of my conservative brethren embarrassing and disappointing.
UPDATE II: It just gets better and better. James Taranto of Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today is alarmed that Antonin Scalia has never met Harriet Miers:
The gregarious Scalia is a fixture on Washington's social circuit, especially among conservative lawyers. If Miers has never met him, that is an indication of how much of an outsider she is, and it helps explain why those who have labored for decades in the service of restoring constitutional jurisprudence to something resembling the actual Constitution--building both an intellectual foundation and a community of prospective judges who adhere to this approach--are so demoralized and angry at the selection.Oh, please. Is Taranto serious, or is he trying to write a parody of inside-the-beltway thinking?