October 22, 2005

"We're not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?"

The Washington Times reports that "White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people" that question.
A conservative political consultant with ties to the White House said the president and his political team once thought Democrats would go easy on Miss Miers, a friend of Mr. Bush's and his personal counsel. The theory was that Democrats see her as the best they could expect in the way of Bush appointments to the high court.

"But now Democrats smell blood in water," said the Republican, adding that he received a call from Miss Taylor seeking contingency advice on how to handle a possible decision by Miss Miers to withdraw her name or a decision by the president to withdraw the nomination.

"So there are some in the White House and some Republicans in the Senate who are worried the Democrats can now build a case that she is not competent enough or knowledgeable enough to be a justice on the Supreme Court," he said. "Really, that is the most damaging case you can build against a nominee."

The reason, he said, is that "non-ideologues would be responsive to that competence argument, and Republicans won't be able to argue that her defeat was ideological -- that the reason the Democrats beat her was that she was too conservative."
Well, I've been saying it's ideological of the Democrats not to oppose her. They opposed Roberts as much as they could, and he was sublimely qualified. How can you oppose him and not her? It must be that you think she's weak and will drift, surprise, or at least be uninfluential. This preference for a weak justice over a hyper-competent justice like Roberts is utterly political and in service of the Democrats ideological goals. Anyone who challenges Roberts and then turns around and gives Miers a pass can never credibly claim to be relying on the principles they will need to cite in the next case if they want to look like something more than purely political ideologues.

I can understand why the Democrats have not done much of anything yet. The Republicans are fighting each other. And it looks lofty to wait for the hearings. But what will happen at those hearings? The Democratic senators will need to behave in a way that is proportional to the way they treated Roberts. If not, they'll look like hypocrites (and we bloggers will point it out). If so, it will, in all likelihood, be a humiliating experience for Miers -- and Bush will deserve all the blame for his abysmal choice.

Am I too optimistic to think that relief will come today?

19 comments:

ALH ipinions said...

Alas, not too optimistic Ann.

The Democrats are indeed relishing this internecine fight between Republicans. And, fair enough.

But it’s not Democrats whose principles will eventually hoist them by their own petard; rather it’s the Republicans who humiliated Miers to save her from humiliation at the hearings.

So, if she withdraws - because she cannot sustain so many slings and arrows in her back from fellow Republicans – I suspect it will redound to your Party’s eternal shame…

Too Many Jims said...

I think the Dems want (in this order): 1. Miers to be defeated by conservatives before the hearings. 2. To make themselves look good (or at least better than Roberts) in the hearings. 3. Have her defeated as a result of the hearings. 4. If need be, they are probably willing to let a 60 year old who is not perceived as a stellar justice on the court without a filibuster.

Ann Althouse said...

ALH: To the eternal shame of my party? I'm a registered Democrat and have been since 1972. I don't promote either party on this blog, in case you haven't noticed.

Meade said...

Well, I've been saying it's ideological of the Democrats not to oppose her. They opposed Roberts as much as they could, and he was sublimely qualified. How can you oppose him and not her? It must be that you think she's weak and will drift, surprise, or at least be uninfluential. This preference for a weak justice over a hyper-competent justice like Roberts is utterly political and in service of the Democrats ideological goals. Anyone who challenges Roberts and then turns around and gives Miers a pass can never credibly claim to be relying on the principles they will need to cite in the next case if they want to look like something more than purely political ideologues.

Brilliantly put.

Overly optimistic? I think it will happen... before the close of the business day.

knoxgirl said...

ugh, I just want it to be over because I can't help but feel really bad for her. She's probably pretty smart, just not qualified to be on the Supreme Court (not that they are mutually exclusive!)-- and this whole thing makes her seem like a dingbat. She's getting slaughtered, just let it end!

Mary said...

I think the Dems should sit back while Frum forms a 527 like the Swiftboat Vets and spends conservative money on ads attacking the president's choice.

Last year at this time, regular Dems were urging voters to consider the gravity of their choice since several Supreme Ct. nominations were at stake. Some didn't trust P.Bush to make such important decisions. I think pundits couldn't see far enough down the road to see something like this nomination happening and were writing about fun stuff like Mr. Kerry's horse-face and Mary Cheney's lesbianism. They didn't heed the warning. It sucks to be fooled, eh?

Regular American people seem to not be reacting in the same way. They want the hearings, those who have time to care, in that principled "up or down" way. Don't let the talking heads/insiders take the process away from us because they haven't handstamped the conservative seal of approval on P.Bush's choice (Federalist Club/Society whatever,etc.).

Pundits, conservative bloggers and profs, want to take credit for bringing down a nominee. It would give them power. You were against Bork too, right? Remember that feeling of satisfaction there was in society then of taking someone like that down? It almost prevailed for Justice Thomas too, if memory serves. But he had support and fought on.

Who knows, but I'd like to see the basic facts of Wickburn given to a large sampling of Americans, then ask them how they'd rule given what they know of the Founders' principles of independence, rewarding individual effort, and fairplay. I'm guessing the farmer would get to keep the extra wheat for his family that he put in the effort to grow. Why discourage effort and results? That's not commerce, but a weak foundation to build upon legally.

I hope we regular Americans get to hear from the nominee in the hearings and don't protect her from the process, probably because she's a woman, because of possible humiliation. I think this is working the way it was designed: P. nominates, people evaluate and debate amongst themselves, Senators ask questions, she gets an up or down vote like Thomas did, and Bork too in a 42-58 loss.

I still haven't seen anything so egregious not to ask her questions in a public hearing and give her a vote. If we stick to the process consistently, there'll be less charges of elitism and ideas that the rest of us aren't involved and special interests decide.

Hoots said...

I dunno.
A lot of smart people are saying that Bush will hang on no matter what. Whatever her qualifications or lack therof, neither she nor the president are duplicitous enough for a "withdrawal for the sake of" anything. I even came across a reference to a "recess appointment" after Christmas.

Incidentally, were you invited to that conference call of bloggers? I haven't seen a roster of how many might have been lurking.

Mary said...

ps. I want some Senator at the hearing to ask her about Wickard. I care less that her administrative staff cut a late check for her Bar dues fees. It's all in the weight you give to individual factors when you judge, right?

Mary said...

Oops typo, don't shoot.
That case is Wickard v. Filburn.

Ann Althouse said...

Hoots: Yes, I get invited to those conference calls. I should do a post about why I haven't done any yet. Part of it is that they tend to be scheduled right after I get out of class and I'm in a mood for some quiet time. Part of it is that I don't imagine getting much value from it. I'll hear the pitch I've already heard, won't I? Maybe with the right question I could extract some statement that would be interesting to talk about, but that never seems to outweigh my desire to have my time for either pleasure or more efficient reading and reflection.

ALH ipinions said...

Correction!

Fair point Ann.

"I suspect it will redound to [the Republican] Party’s eternal shame…"

with apologies

Stiles said...

If her performance in the hearings is consistent with what has been reported so far in the lead up to the hearings, it will be difficult for some Democrat senators, like Feingold, to support her nomination. On the other hand, if you are a Democrat senator and you see a GOP nominee who seems to have relatively unformed ideas in many areas of constitutional law, but who already is clearly supportive of affirmative action...well that is pretty tempting! Especially if there is a likelihood that Stevens steps down during this administration.

It's also the case that the interesting story to the MSM will be conservative Republicans opposing her. Biden and Kennedy will get less coverage this time around. So even if they oppose, the tone will probably be more muted.

At this stage, I think the Democrats preference would be 1) that Miers presents herself well enough at the hearings to justify confirmation, 2)have her defeated by conservatives at the hearings, 3)goes down to defeat due to a terrible performance in the hearings 4)to be defeated by the conservatives before the hearings, 5) be defeated at the hearings by vocal bipartisan opposition.

If the Miers nomination fails, the Democrats will want it as public as possible and with the opposition as completely within the GOP as possible. But I think increasingly the Democrats wish the Miers nomination would succeed even as their doubts are increasing that she will demonstrate the qualities necessary for the nomination to be successful.

John(classic) said...

Way for her to withdraw:

At the hearings testify that she will be guided by God in every decision that she makes, then perhaps suggest that a principal constitutional question (citing Kelo) is precisely what it is that should be rendered unto Caesar. Then add some questioning about the constitutional underpinnings of progressive taxation, citing the parable of the three stewards. When she is asked about her advice to Bush on legalities in war she might add a reference or two to smiting the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perissites and Hivites, smashing graven images and cutting down groves. Finally she might point out that deficit financing makes the republic dependent on usury for its existence citing Exodus. A comparison or two to the Senate as the Sanhedrin would go well at some point though a reference to pork as pieces of silver would probably be overdoing it. Finally if asked about intellectual property , a quote or two from Satan in "The Time Bandits" would not be amiss.


That way she can repair the base on the way out.

peter hoh said...

I find it hard to believe that Bush will withdraw Miers' nomination. Throughout his presidency, he has shown no inclination to listen to critics.

It's not enough for the Democrats to smell blood in the water. They do, but they aren't quite willing to strike first. The Republican senators are also swimming in circles, trying to figure out how they will be viewed if they challenge the president.

The Miers nomination presents an opportunity to distance oneself from the president without touching the WOT issue.

W.B. Reeves said...

Glad to see that Ann has refined her argument, weighting it toward future actions by the Democrats rather than the present lack of activity. This may all be moot though, since the latest Journalistic rumor is that the White House is looking for an exit strategy on Miers pre-confirmation hearings.

If this turns out to be true it will vindicate the Democrat's choice of abstaining from the GOP's inhouse blood bath. Anyone care to speculate on the political consequences of such a climb down on the Adminstration's part? I suspect this firefight may have engendered more than a few vendettas with long term consequences.

Robert said...

I'm a registered Democrat and have been since 1972.

You can't possibly be that old.

Ann Althouse said...

Robert: The real question is, did I have to wait until I was 21 to vote or was I able to vote at age 18 (or 19 or 20)?

Qurcus Virginiana said...

You can't be nominated to SCOTUS, unless you are loyal to POTUS. . .

Hugh Hewitt, tan, rested, ready!

GNN Staff Writer said...

The Miers nomination is beginning to emit the scent of rotting flesh. Let's hope the President listens to his Conservative base and ends this farce.