President Bush is expected to announce that he has chosen Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court! [UPDATE: He has announced.] How interesting! We heard her name fairly late in the speculation. I posted about her here on September 27th, which was the first time I heard the name. So many others were considered and passed over, so many judges. But in the end, Bush has chosen a person who has never been a judge -- there will be much talk about that -- and a person who is a woman (to replace the Court's first woman) -- so we won't need to talk about that anymore.
Miers, who replaced Alberto Gonzales as White House Counsel, led the search for the new nominee, and people will thus compare her to Dick Cheney, who led the search for Bush's running mate in 2000 and ended up getting the position himself. I suppose we've got to speculate on the mind of Bush, that he ends up becoming impressed by the one he works closely with in a search. Or we might subtract some things we've thought about Cheney. Perhaps we've thought he was especially sly in deflecting all the other candidates and seizing the job for himself. That seems less likely now that it's happened twice. It says more about Bush. But let's not talk about Bush, let's talk about Miers!
I have never heard Miers speak, but an important consideration for Bush ought to have been how well the nominee could present herself at the hearings, a concern that ought to have heightened as the Roberts confirmation process played out. Roberts presented himself so brilliantly and had to stand up to an intense grilling. It won't do for the next nominee to be far from his standard. The new nominee will be compared endlessly to Roberts, and Democrats will engage heavily in rhetoric that puts a new golden glow around Roberts. The Democrats who voted for Roberts are in a position to take special advantage of the opportunity to compare the new nominee to him and to say that he was acceptable, but she does not measure up. Bush needed to find a nominee who would not empower than line of argument. Whether Miers is such a person, we will need to find out.
It's interesting that Bush waited until today, the opening day of the Court's new term, to make the announcement. I had thought that he would announce immediately upon the confirmation of John Roberts. By announcing today, we absorb the news at the same time we look at the Court's new term. As we will think about the various cases the Court faces, we will talk about what Miers might do with them. Announcing today makes us focus on the fact that O'Connor, who wants to leave, is still there, ready to sit on the cases until the new nominee is confirmed. I think that lights a fire under the Senators to do their work quickly. Let the Court have its new member so it can get on with its work.
We will see how long it takes for Senate Democrats to articulate Miers-specific reasons for slowing things down.
UPDATE: Baseball Crank is "less than thrilled" with Miers. He also notes "Bush calls the bluff of Harry Reid, who said he wanted a nominee who was "more of a trial lawyer."