Q Mr. President, as a newspaper reported on Saturday, is the White House working on a contingency plan for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination?
THE PRESIDENT: Harriet Miers is -- is an extraordinary woman. She was a legal pioneer in Texas. She was ranked one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States on a consistent basis. She is -- look, I understand that people want to know more about her, and that's the way the process should work.
Recently, requests, however, have been made by Democrats and Republicans about paperwork and -- out of this White House that would make it impossible for me and other Presidents to be able to make sound decisions. They may ask for paperwork about the decision-making process, what her recommendations were, and that would breach very important confidentiality. And it's a red line I'm not willing to cross. People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people being able to walk into the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, here's my advice to you, here's what I think is important. And that's not only important for this President, it's important for future Presidents.
Harriet Miers is a fine person, and I expect her to have a good, fair hearing on Capitol Hill.
I'm in too much of a hurry to explain right now -- class starts in 5 minutes -- and I'll concede to the influence of wishfulness, but I read this as a sign that the nomination WILL be withdrawn: he's setting up the Krauthammer exit strategy with the documents; he did not address the question that was asked directly; and he fuzzes things over with irrelevant assertions about what a fine woman Miers is.
MORE: Here's the link to the Krauthammer article proposing that Bush set up "a classic conflict, not of personality, not of competence, not of ideology, but of simple constitutional prerogatives," in which an impossible bind requires the withdawal: "The Senate cannot confirm her unless it has this information. And the White House cannot allow release of this information lest it jeopardize executive privilege." And then, of course, you say all the nice things about what "an extraordinary woman" Miers is.
I was watching this press conference on TV, and it seemed as if Bush was making a planned withdrawal speech. He hesitated a lot and put his words together carefully. Note that he did not express confidence that she would be confirmed or that she would make a fine Justice. He focused on her general excellence, unrelated to the position she's been nomited for, and on the Senate, stepping up the pressure to give her a fair hearing -- right after turning up the heat about the denial of the documents. It seems as though he wants the Democratic senators to make more of a stink about the documents so that he'll look more credible blaming them for forcing him to withdraw her name. I'll bet they are too smart to make that move, though. Let him twist in the wind while they hold their fire until the hearings. Or maybe even -- crazily riskily -- just go ahead and support her and leave Bush to solve his own problems, without using them for leverage.