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."
"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.