October 5, 2005

Chez Althouse: a dialogue about Harriet Miers.

My non-law student son (Chris) asks me what I think about Harriet Miers and, before I can answer, adds:
"No one seems to like her."


"It seems like he just picked her because they're friends."



XWL said...

I'm not being intentionally obtuse, and I realize that my question doesn't require answering to convey the point you are making but nevertheless I'm curious as to what precisely the italics used for the second "Yeah" are meant to mean.

Is it a representation of a change in cadence or volume?

Is it mere emphasis and doesn't represent any difference in intonation?

The subtleties of spoken communication are legion compared to written. The difficulties in proper representation of the verbal in the written are myriad. Sometimes maintaining that ambiguity is a worthy artistic goal, so my curiosity can remain unsated if need be.

But seeing that use of italics immediately brought these questions to my (admittedly twisted) mind.

It's an unusual orthography so I assume there must be some special meaning being conveyed, or not.

Brendan said...

The Miers fiasco reminds me of 30-year-old Ted Kennedy's run for the US Senate in 1962. His meager life accomplishments were quickly panned by Democratic primary opponent Edward J. McCormack Jr.

McCormack eviscerated Kennedy with the following memorable line: "If his name were Edward Moore, with his qualifications - with your qualifications, Teddy - if it was Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke."

Similarly, were Miers not a Bush confidante, ....

mcg said...

Well, no, if he wanted to do that, he would have picked Gonzales :) (Which, as Robert Bork points out, is "Souter" in Spanish...)

Jacques Cuze said...

I think Bush showed his courage, intellect, and leadership by choosing his friend of 12 years. I think that having such courage and leadership is truly something only possible with a fine conservative mind.

vbspurs said...

Is it a representation of a change in cadence or volume?

Is it mere emphasis and doesn't represent any difference in intonation?

I would hazard, it's the first option.

The kind of Yeah you hold aspirate out, holding the "ea", and finishing softly with the "h", mouth open.


I suppose parts resignation, parts comprehension, parts cynicism.


Gigolo Kitty said...

Aren't you overlooking their mutual love for Jesus as the decisive factor?

vbspurs said...

McCormack eviscerated Kennedy with the following memorable line: "If his name were Edward Moore, with his qualifications - with your qualifications, Teddy - if it was Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke."

Similarly, were Miers not a Bush confidante, ....

Not the very best of examples as Ted Kennedy actually WON his bid for a Senate seat.

Mind you, we've lost ever since -- so good simile after all. ;)

P.S.: Did you know that Ted Kennedy was named for Edward Moore, Joe Kennedy Jr's...pimpmaster?

Well, on paper, friend, confidant, and loyal assistant -- but basically he set Old Joe up with call girls and starlets. He was his facilitator, to use a more polite term.

In stream-of-consciousness mode, it would be like President Clinton having named a son of his after Vernon Jordan. :)


ziemer said...

the nomination is disgraceful.

the role of the senate, in my opinion, at least, is to ensure that the president appoint highly qualified people to the judiciary, and not his cronies.

all 22 senators who voted against roberts are disgraces, unfit to serve.

and by the same token, any senator who does not vote "no" to this nomination has failed his duty (i'm not going to go so far as to say they are unfit).

everyone knows where i stand. i would like to see richard epstein be appointed (and that, everyone also knows, will NEVER happen).

but this nomination epitomizes the actual meaning of advice and consent, and the federalist paper #76.

the senate's role is to approve 100-0 people like roberts, and condemn 100-0 cronies.

vbspurs said...

the senate's role is to approve 100-0 people like roberts, and condemn 100-0 cronies.

Do you really expect people to believe that's what should happen?

Because I don't feel that's what should happen.

100% of anything is a bit creepy.

It reminds me of successive Communist elections when the results would always be near unanimous, but in ever so incremental percentages.

98.9%. 99.1%. 99.5%!



Sloanasaurus said...

I guess Gonzalez would have been a crony pick as well.

Maybe John Marshall was a crony. After all he was Adam's Secretary of State, and Adams appointed him a few days before losing the election to Jefferson (who hated Marshall).

The Exalted said...

now you're comparing miers to john marshall?

thats rich

mrbungle2103 said...

I'm sorry - I just can't get past the fact that Howard Dean used the phrase "hide the salami" on Hardball.


MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the president can claim executive privilege?

DEAN: Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege. But in the this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called.

I demand this become part of the lexicon of congressional hearings. I would pay a substantial sum of money to hear Senator Biden ask Harriet Miers if she is trying to hide the salami. And I would dearly love to hear her retort.

mrbungle2103 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pat Patterson said...

The Democrats were the ones dumb enough to give a lst of acceptable candidates to the President. Obviously they are the ones who didn't do their homework and are thus flummoxed by the choice of Ms. Miers.

bookman said...

"hide the salami"
....hahaha hilariousx

Goesh said...

- he may as well have picked Ed Gein for all the good it would do me on my lost wagers

nina said...

Crucial word here: just (as in: just because she is a friend). Cronyism would be less objectionable if the crony happens to have the cultivated talents of a future Supreme Court justice. I can appreciate the challenge when you want to reward loyal friends through prestigious appointments (many presidents do this), yet none (italics intended) appear to have the skills and intellect needed for a position on the Supreme Court. At that point, you just have to abandon the "just a friend" thing.

The Mojician said...

Goesh: I'm assuming you mean Ed Gien, the notorious Wisonsin psycho killer. (I believe you misspelled his name.)

Ann Althouse said...

Well, then don't misspell Wisconsin....

EddieP said...

Is the Constitution such a complex document that a person of average intelligence can't understand its clauses and meaning?

Why can't an american citizen with above average intelligence, well experienced in the workings of business, the law, and the government succeed as a justice? If all we have at SCOTUS are crusty old judges from the circuits and appeals courts and the academy, isn't the prospect of new blood and fresh viewpoints exciting? To me it is fabulous to think that someone with Miers' experience is a candidate.

What happens currently if some extremely complex issue comes before the court. There are oral arguments, clerks to research, staff meetings, individual consultations, votes, concurrence, dissent, all matter of vetting and still we get 5-4 votes on much of the work product. So philosophy is at least as important as some abstract qualifications. An outside the box viewpoint should be extremely valuable to the court.

Her qualifications are judged by the president to be exemplary, the Judiciary Comittee will have its shot. I'm looking forward to the hearings.

Scipio said...


I think it's pretty clear that Adams picked Marshall for two reasons: he was able; and Marshall really pissed Jefferson off.

Two good reasons.

downtownlad said...

Jeez - I have no clue why people are getting worked up by this nomination. It actually sounds like some people actually think you need to understand Constitutional law to be a Supreme Court Justice.


It is solely about how you will vote on the social issues of the day. Harriet Miers is an an evangelical Christian, so she is guaranteed vote for "morality" and "family".

If she is defeated, this could really result in a slippery slope. The next thing you know, we might even end up with justices who actually try to interpret and apply the LAW. Gasp!

But in all serious - I do favor this confirmation. I think it will be good to have an evangelical Christian on the court. The better to educate Americans about what can happen to America if we become a theocracy. And having a candidate on the court for the next 25 years who is so minimally qualified will speak volumes about Bush's legacy.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

"John Marhsall, Lewis Powell, etc. were also never judges or legal academics, just like Miers"

So goes the defense of Harriet Miers (as seen, for example on Volokh). But this is really off the mark.

On the Marshall metaphor, it completely misses the point that at that time, most people who were statesmen probably thought a lot about political philosophy and legal issues. Also, the law was much less complex and there were really no SC decisions to think of and have to adhere to. So, by the standards of that time, Marshall knew plenty and was plenty qualified.

On comparisons to Powell, Frankfurter, etc. This misunderstands the nature of legal education prior to the 1960's or so. It is a relatively recent phenomenon, from what I understand, for law schools to be scholarly repositories, in the sense that they hire faculty based on scholarly quality rather than, say, ability to teach a lecture on Torts or Civil Procedure. So, intellectual and thoughtful people coming out of law school in the 1930's and 1940's didn't join law faculties to exercise their intellectual interests in the law since law faculties were not places that demanded scholarly greatness. They were just as likely to go work at law firms.

You need to examine the qualifications within the context of the time period. In the 1920's, it was common to practice law never having graduated from law school. Now, that would be preposterous. I believe FDR dropped out of Columbia law after passing his bar exam early to enter private practice.