October 21, 2005

"This selection has become a political blunder of the first order."

The Wall Street Journal editorializes against the Miers nomination:
Regarding Ms. Miers's qualifications, we aren't among those who think an Ivy League pedigree or judgeship is a prerequisite for a Supreme Court seat. But the process of getting to know Ms. Miers has been the opposite of reassuring. Her courtesy calls on Senators have gone so poorly that the White House may stop them altogether.

And on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee took the extraordinary step of asking her for what amounts to "do-over" on a standard questionnaire about her judicial philosophy. The impression has been created, fairly or not, that Ms. Miers is simply not able to discuss the Constitutional controversies that have animated American political debate for two generations....

[A]fter decades of Republican anger over judicial activism, and 20 years of disappointing GOP Court selections, a nominee who was a blank slate was bound to get pounded. Mr. Bush has set her up to be hit by a withering political crossfire....

Perhaps Ms. Miers will prove to be such a sterling Senate witness that she can still win confirmation. But so far the lesson we draw from this nomination is this: Bad things happen when a President decides that "diversity," personal loyalty and stealth are more important credentials for the Supreme Court than knowledge of the Constitution and battle-hardened experience fighting the judicial wars of the past 30 years.
Also in the Wall Street Journal, John Fund notes that "the politics of the Harriet Miers nomination are getting stranger." About that Texas Lottery Commission:
Two key players in last year's presidential campaign--Jerome Corsi, co-author of the Swift Boat Veterans book "Unfit for Command," and Ben Barnes, a former Texas lieutenant governor who claimed President Bush got special treatment when he joined the Texas Air National Guard--are involved in the debate.

In a plot twist worthy of "Dallas," Mr. Barnes is effectively siding with President Bush's appointee, while Mr. Corsi is opposed. Mr. Corsi has written a half dozen Internet stories on the Lottery Commission scandal, while Mr. Barnes is calling the offices of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and urging them not to question Ms. Miers about the Lottery Commission because it will prove embarrassing to him and other Texas Democrats....

[Go to the link to read the details of the controversy!]

The bizarre maneuverings behind the Miers nomination threaten to take the confirmation hearings far afield from a discussion of constitutional law and judicial philosophy....

But another possibility is that both political parties' desire not to turn up old scandals--whether they be the Lottery Commission or who exactly did fake those Air National Guard memos that appeared in the same "60 Minutes" segment as Ben Barnes--prompts senators to suggest privately to Mr. Bush that Ms. Miers withdraw. It's a cliché, but doubly true in this case, that politics makes strange bedfellows.
(Hmmm... good general point about which scandals play out on the public stage.)

Staying with the WSJ, Daniel Henniger has a four-point plan for Bush to "get his mojo back," and point one is to withdraw the Miers nomination:
Withdraw Harriet, nominate Edith. Harriet Miers is the canary in the Bush mineshaft. Her nomination sent fissures through the walls of a Republican coalition already cracking under the weight of federal outlays for a prescription drug entitlement and highways to nowhere. The disappointment of conservative intellectuals over attorney Miers is said to have been predicted inside the White House, and discounted. A mistake. Many of the best people in conservative politics have walked away from the Bush presidency.

The President needs his party to sustain him through the end of the term, and most of all this means completing the mission in Iraq. A Supreme Court nomination, however important, is a political obligation. Iraq is a moral obligation. The Miers nomination, by undermining the President's standing in his own party--and it has--is threatening Mr. Bush's ability to finish the job in Iraq. The imperatives of presidential leadership trump personal loyalty, especially in time of war, and we are at war.
So, the Wall Street Journal is awfully hard on Harriet today.

7 comments:

Dave said...

I interpreted the Journal's editorial board piece a bit differently.

Yes, they were critical of Miers, but they saved their most withering criticism for her handlers and her Senatorial inquisitors.

Charles said...

Interestingly, there is a study of federal judges confirmed since Carter and Supreme Court justices for 100 years that says the smarter and more qualified, the tougher to get confirmed. The less so, the easier/faster the confirmation. My guess is there is a certain amount of ego from the Senate panel that those barely practiced lawyers are going to teach a Supreme Court nominee a lesson. Roberts and Miers might be a bump in the statistics.

Gerry said...

Re: the WSJ-- indeed they are. Telling, I think, since one of the perceived points in her favor is that she would be a strong conservative justice on business matters.

Scipio said...

Burn her, bury her, and dump her in the Thames.

Too Many Jims said...

Undoubtedly replacing "Harriet with Edith would electrify and unify a broken party." After Roberts, that in and of itself probably would have been enough to get any nominee confirmed. If Miers is withdrawn because of pressure from conservatives, I am not sure it will be the case that the President could get just any old nominee through the confirmation process. Edith Jones would energize the Republicans, but she may also energize the Democrats.

Also, if they withdraw Miers' nomination wouldn't there be some logic to Specter's "why don't we just ask O'Connor to stay through this term" argument. If they have to confirm a different nominee is there any real chance that the nominee would be on the court before January? By that time what percentage of the term's cases would have already been argued?

reader_iam said...

Jim: Interesting, the idea of withdrawing Miers but then waiting 'til next year to nominate someone else. I wonder if that helps or hurts the President with regard to his disgruntled constituencies?

Too Many Jims said...

I hadn't really thought of it as a strategy, more like a practical reality. There are certainly perils to pushing the nomination fight to an election year. If they were to do that, I doubt they could get a "fire-breathing" conservative (personally immediately after Roberts I think they could have nominated Bork but for his age and his relationship with Specter). On the other hand if Bush nominated someone who was hyper-competent and qualified like Roberts and she (he?) was treated poorly by Dems, I could see that being an advantage electorally for some Republican Senators.

At any rate, if they are going to withdraw her or defeat her it is time to crap or get off the pot (if you will excuse the expression). If they wait even until the hearings begin, much of the term will be gone.