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.