Thursday, October 27, 2005

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Harriet Miers has withdrawn.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.


Anonymous BlueBuffoon said...

For the first time in memory, I actually had to agree with Cokie Roberts (of all people), who was a guest on the local news radio program, to discuss the fallout of this development. In response to the local host's comment that "I guess George Will will be pretty pleased come Sunday morning," Cokie said, "Yes, and I'm not sure it will be sufferable."

I share your concerns about the long-term consequences of this "Uncivil War." I disagree, however, that Miers was borked by the right, but it may all be a matter of definition--as Ms. Miers has indeed been viciously and in many respects unfairly attacked. Also, I'm not sure that "ideology" was the litmus test here--except to the extent that one's view of the proper role of the judiciary and basis for construing and applying the constitution constitutes ideology (in which case, I come down strongly in favor of that "ideology" as not only legitimate but definitive basis for opposing--or supporting--a nominee to the Supreme Court).

For what it's worth, my speculation about the items on your well thought out "watch list":

As for the "movement conservatives," I fear they will be feeling their oats for quite some time and will be all too ready to yelp again if the occasion arises--and without regard to long-term perspective (the example of Congressional Republicans after the so-called Gingrich Revolution comes to mind). They will continue to overestimate the power of their position--and ignore the fact that the vast majority of the American people are not in their camp.

Given their performance in the obstruction of the nomination, I'm surprised you even wonder about graciousness. Frankly, I'll be surprised.

It will be much easier for the Democrats to tar a second conservative nominee--they were already getting up a pretty good lather over Miers, for heavens' sake!

I have no idea what President Bush may do--his purported stubbornness and the word (how reliable we can only guess) that he wanted Gonzales all along may suggest that tack. A Gonzales nomination would, IMO, only compound the problem unless moderate Republicans and Democrats immediately jumped on board to isolate the "movement." I'd could only view that with a big does of Schadenfreude, as it would also betray (from my view) the rest of the conservatives like myself who didn't trash Miers but still believe that reestablishing the proper role of the courts needs to be "Job One" for conservatives and this administration.

What a mess, indeed!


Posted by BlueBuffoon

Thursday, October 27, 2005 7:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ramsour said...

Great post. One thing I will disagree with you about. Your first question asks "will the movement conservatives rejoin the fold?" They don't need to rejoin since they believe they are the ones who own the fold. They built it while serving in the Reagan White House (even those who were just lowly staffers in their 20's then). George Bush didn't belong in the fold. They just allowed him to visit when it suited their purposes.

Posted by Mary Ramsour

Thursday, October 27, 2005 8:27:00 AM  
Anonymous saveliberty said...

Good post-- the challenge of the day is to rebuild what has been splintered. 

Posted by saveliberty

Thursday, October 27, 2005 9:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Laura Ingraham for weeks now has been making very large claims of proprietorship -basically that NRO/Will/Fund & Co created the presidency of Bush, therefore the nominee is effectively their selection to make

Mier's defeat is THEIR victory also - basically Laura's theme tonight  

Posted by Rob

Thursday, October 27, 2005 11:41:00 PM  

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