October 3, 2005

A D- for that B+.

Stephen Bainbridge gives Hugh Hewitt a D- for giving Bush a B+ for nominating Harriet Miers. (But what grade to do they give Miers herself?) Bainbridge utters the dreaded name "Carswell."

Here's what Hewitt says to the conservatives who are fretting about Miers:
Wake up people: Do you really think W is going to elevate a friend who doesn't agree with him on the crucial issues of the day just because she's a friend? Bush-haters like Sullivan will smoke that pipe, but no serious analyst of his judicial nominations.

Bush's picks for the Bench have been stellar, and his support for them unwavering. Conservative critics of Miers are disappointed they didn't get Luttig or McConnell, but many of them were also disappointed with Roberts. Meanwhile many folks who actually know the nominee are enthusiastic.

The Miers nomination is turning into a Rorschach test dividing conservatives into the camp that understands governing for the long term and those that are so emotionally fragile or contingent in their allegiance that anything they (1) don't understand or (2) disappoints in any way becomes an occasion for panic and declarations of irreparable injury.
Let's check out Sullivan then:
Just when the conservative coalition was already fracturing - over Iraq, spending, immigration, Katrina - you'd think that Bush would pick a solid base-favorite for SCOTUS. That was my assumption: something to rev up the troops, divide the country into a classic culture-war left-right battle, etc. But I was wrong.... The only reason I can think of for Bush to rattle his base in this fashion is the same reason Clinton decided to push his luck with a blow-job in the Oval Office: "Because I could." He picked Miers because he could. If he wasn't allowed to get his favorite crony, Gonzales, he was going to go one better. This is not to say we shouldn't give the Miers nomination a thorough and fair look. Unlike many of the Cornerites, I'm not sure yet whether she'd make a decent Justice. But, boy, does this pick remind us of who GWB is: about as arrogant a person as anyone who has ever held his office. Now the base knows how the rest of us have felt for close to five years. He had one accountability moment. He doesn't expect another.
Of course, Hewitt is right about Sullivan hating Bush. The Miers nomination doesn't really add much of anything to the reasons people have to hate Bush. It really just seems that Sullivan uses whatever happens to trash Bush. Lots of people do that around here in Madison. I find it tedious.


Sloanasaurus said...

I agree with Hewitt. As I said in another post before... who was the last Justice to be appointed that was a close personal friend of the President? After the Souter debacle, Bush was not willing to risk another failure on anyone he didn't know.

Sloanasaurus said...

The more I read, the more it is appearing that Miers could be the ultimate nightmare the Democrats have been fearing from Bush.

It appears that Miers is a very conservative religious evangelical christian with a "textual" view of the bible (creationism and all) that also happens to be a very successful and respected lawyer. If this is true, Democrats will have to oppose her almost totally on the fact that she is an evangelical Christian. It is going to get ugly.

downtownlad said...

That's a false charge. Sullivan was a big supporter of Roberts for Chief Justice.

Maybe it's just that Bush has been completely incompetent for the last couple of years. Can anyone name one significant accomplishment of his? CAFTA or Bankruptcy reform, maybe? But who cares - those are so minor. And Sullivan supported Bush on that front.

Mark Daniels said...

I give giving grades for blog posts a C-. Of course, I graduated from a Big Ten school; so, I may be guilty of grade inflation.

PatCA said...

Of course, all the pundits are speaking as if they KNOW how she will perform on the SC. She is a bit of a cipher--never having been a judge there aren't any rulings for Dems to criticize--which is exactly why the Dems did support her.

They can save face and portray themselves as heroes to the left, having "blocked" a true conservative. If she turns out to be a conservative, they can cry "we wuz robbed."

Simon said...

Hugh: "Do you really think W is going to elevate a friend who doesn't agree with him on the crucial issues of the day just because she's a friend?"


This President has given me zero reason, none whatsoever, to trust his judgement. I feel very sad that I deceived myself into believing this president would appoint originalists, tempered only with the certainty that Kerry would have made worse picked. After Roberts, I wouldn't trust him to pick out a healthy, nutritious breakfast, let alone a member of the high court.

SMGalbraith said...

Well, it looks like Andrew Sullivan and Pat Buchanan are in agreement over this nomination.

I'm not sure whether that's a sign of the coming apocalypse or the approaching millenium.

It's got to be a sign of sumpthing big but I'll be damned as to what it is.


SteveR said...

Well if you can get Buchanan and Andrew Sullivan to agree you've screwed up.. sounds like an endorsement to me.

BTW is a squiggly line with two hooks and three round thingamajobs a "g" or an "n"? Word Verification is going beyond the 200 fonts in Word

Brendan said...

Leave it to Bush to nominate someone who prompts conservatives to do opposition research. Memo to W: your nominee is supposed to drive LIBERALS apeshit, not your friends. Jeez.

Ann Althouse said...

Downtownlad: Sullivan said a few times that Roberts was the best Dems could hope for, but here's how he used the nomination to talk about Bush:

BUSH PANICS: His nomination of Roberts for Chief Justice seems like a strange gamble for me. Someone who has not yet been on the Court should now be leading it? I know there are precedents, but this strikes me as a way to buy time. I know the polls are showing limited damage to the president. But it is a given at times like this that people rally to their president. They haven't. So Bush reaches for safety. Deeper down, the crisis is worse. We face a perilous few years. Bush has just given notice to al Qaeda and others that this country is utterly unprepared for a possible terrorist calamity; and the people of the country have at best luke-warm confidence in their commander-in-chief. I take no pleasure whatever in this scenario. We are both deepy divided and deeply demoralized about the effectiveness of American government. That's not how you win a war.

So I stand by my characterization. Admittedly, I don't read everything AS writes. I find him tedious, and he's been unfair to me when he's linked to me. Feel free to post a link of where AS talks about Bush in connection with Roberts and approves of Bush.

APS said...

Here is the very first thing Sullivan wrote about Roberts. Parts of his compliments may seem backhanded, but I don't think so: "Roberts seems to me to be an extremely shrewd and defensible pick: federalist in instinct, prosaic in judgment, factually-astute, a conservative defender of judicial restraint. If a re-elected Republican president cannot get such a man confirmed, something has gone terribly wrong with the system. Obviously, we all have to wait for the hearings and any new revelations before making up our minds definitively. But I'd say it's inspired for being so uninspired, which is a pretty good definition of political conservatism at its best."

mrbungle2103 said...

Not to turn this into a comment section on Sullivan but...I read him because he is very representative of many people I know. He gushed at Bush and seemed to jump through hoops to defend him. Now if his toilet wont flush it's another example of Bush's failure. Is he right or wrong? Doesn't matter - it's the mood he conveys. Other people feel this way. Yes he's emotional, but it is odd to me that so many Republicans see him as a "Kos diarist." As a fellow Englishman I can assure you that my left wing British friends view him very much as a right wing idealogue.

As for Miers, I'm stunned that the cronyism angle hasn't been pushed to the forefront by the DNC. If I was holding the reigns I'd have nailed that to the door by 9am. It's irrelevant whether she is eventually confirmed, the excuse for a possible rejection needed to be coming out of Katie Couric's mouth on the Today show as she was chatting with Russert. I may not agree, but it does so bother me when I see an opposition party just not picking up the ball.

Ann Althouse said...

Mr. Bungle: My theory is the Democrats like her.

mrbungle2103 said...


Who would have thought that they would show support for Miers but be affronted by Roberts?

downtownlad said...

Here's one Ann.


He became much more supportive of Roberts after the first day. That's ok if you find him tedious. You don't have to read him. But I don't think it's Sullivan's fault that he keeps harping on Bush.

Bush's second term is one of complete incompetence. To be fair - almost all second terms are awful. I think you have to go back to Eisenhower to actually find a successful second term.

tcd said...

You're just like Andrew Sullivan, a single issue voter. Bush doesn't approve of same-sex marriage therefore he is a rotten President. Just an observation so don't bother with a tirade against me. I really don't care what you have to say.

chuck b. said...

TCD says, "Just an observation so don't bother with a tirade against me. I really don't care what you have to say."

You're a jerk. Don't tell people what to bother with or not if you don't care whether or not they do.

Talk about tedious.

Simon said...

Traditionally, a single issue voter is a person who only cares about one thing. I don't think that's quite the same as having a dealbreaker. For my wife, the dealbreaker is abortion - I don't think she will ever vote for any pro-choice politician, period; for me, it's the Court - anyone who threatens to appoint more living constitutionalists loses my vote at that moment. That doesn't make us single-issue voters, we're both deeply concerned with a broad swathe of public policy, but we only reach those questions once the most important question is ansered.

tcd said...

Talk about tedious indeed. Who's being tedious? You're the one that's taking time to address a post which was not even directed at you just to call me a jerk. At least Simon took the time to analyze the difference between single issue vs. dealbreaker.

downtownlad said...

Actually - tcd - you're the single issue voter, not me.

The only thing that matters is a President's stand on "moral" issues. So it doesn't matter that the President raises spending 40%, which is more than LBJ. It doesn't matter that this President has resorted to cronyism over competence. It doesn't matter that this President is making a shambles of the war on terror, ignoring his military commanders who have requested more troops. It doesn't matter that the stock market has not budged in five years.

That's what makes him a rotten President. And the majority of the country is now discovering the same thing.

Sorry tcg - you might want to casually dismiss me because I'm gay. But that's not surprising coming from someone who thinks gay people are second class citizens like yourself and are not entitled to an opinion.

At least I can think for myself. I feel sorry for you - having to defend this President despite his complete incompetence, solely because he's pro-life and hates gay people.

I'm glad I don't have anyone dictating my beliefs.

ShadyCharacter said...

Downtownlad writes:

"Sorry tcg - you might want to casually dismiss me because I'm gay. ...

I'm glad I don't have anyone dictating my beliefs."

Actually, DTL, most people who recognize your tag casually dismiss you because you are a one note wonder, much like AS and for much the same reasons. We get it, you're gay. Congratulations! The post could be about everyone's favorite color of post-it notes and you'd spout something about Bush being an anti-gay bigot. It's your perogative, but it is equally everyone else's perogative to ignore you. Well, I guess I'm not ignoring you in that I'm responding to you, but I am at least discounting everything you write as being filtered through your incredibly narrow world-view.

Final point, it's true you don't have "anyone" dictating your beliefs, but it's clear from your opus that "something" is dictating your beliefs...

KAWyle said...

The discussions of whether Bush picked Miers in order to have a reliable friend on the Court made me think of Jean Anouilh's play Becket. I have a post on Looking Around discussing this in more detail. I don't really think Bush has a simplistic expectation that Miers will jump when he says frog -- but if he did, Becket would be a cautionary tale.

peter hoh said...

tcd: if Andrew Sullivan only cared about gay issues, why was he so effusive in his support of Bush through most of his first term, and why did he back the war in Iraq?

tcd said...

peter hoh,
Who did Andrew Sullivan vote for in 2004? It wasn't Bush. And don't say it was because of Iraq. Kerry didn't have much of a plan for Iraq yet Sullivan voted for him. I recall Sullivan devoted a lot of his blog to same-sex marriage issues.

peter hoh said...

tcd: Sure, Sullivan stated that he was voting for Kerry in 2004, but he supported Bush in 2000. How do you explain that?

Did Bush change his position on SSM between 2000 and 2004? I don't think so. Therefore, I refute your assertion that Sullivan's position can be summed up as you suggested: "Bush doesn't approve of same-sex marriage therefore he is a rotten President."

Sullivan spent a lot of effort supporting the President leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Again, hard for me to see how that would earn someone the "single issue" moniker.

I read Sullivan most days. Yes, there have been times that he's devoted a lot of space to SSM. There are also stretches where he doesn't mention it.

Sullivan's biggest weakness is when he tries to read minds, ascribing motives and what not based on his reading of the political maneuverings.

tcd said...

peter hoh,
It's true that Bush did not change his view on ssm from 2000-2004. I just think ssm was a bigger issue in 2004 than in 2000 because there were several state referendums on the 2004 ballot banning ssm and then there was the Massachusetts court decision (end of 2003?). Bush also didn't change his position on Iraq so why the change in Sullivan's support?

peter hoh said...


I'll do my best to answer your latest question. Sullivan still supports the war in Iraq and the goal of helping that country form a democracy. He grew frustrated at what he saw to be incompetence on the part of Rumsfeld and others. Again and again, the political side of the Pentagon has overruled the advice of military leaders -- on troop size, on tactics -- and the results have (perhaps) been disasterous. (It's hard to know what exactly would have happened had we gone into Iraq with more troops, or if we had been better prepared for the occupation phase. But it's clear that the rosy predictions of Rumsfeld and company did not materialize, and we are paying the consequences.) The President did not call for Rumsfeld's resignation (which would have satisfied Sullivan). Instead, realists like Colin Powell are the ones who have left the administration.

It's the lack of accountability that bothers Sullivan. He no longer trusts the Bush administration to wage this war successfully. After a while, he started to believe that a Kerry administration could do no worse. He thinks that at the very least, a Kerry administration would have been held accountable by an energized Republican Congress.

We're the only ones left in this thread. If you'd like to keep this going, perhaps we can take it to an email exchange.