October 27, 2005

"The President needs a brawl."

So said Fred Barnes on Fox News just now, responding to a question about whether Bush could afford a brawl in Congress right now, which is what will happen if Bush nominates someone openly committed to conservative jurisprudence for the Supreme Court, now that Miers has gone down. The conservatives are claiming a glorious victory right now, and they want the spoils. They want their nominee this time. They've proven -- they will claim, with justification -- that pleasing them is more important than pleasing the Democrats. And next time, he's got to get it right -- right, as they see it. The fight the Democrats will put up? Oh, it will be great! Just what you need! Surely, it will distract us all from the many things that have been holding and are about to grab our attention.


Dave said...

Has it occurred to anyone that Miers' nomination was a strategic opportunity exploited by Rove to deflect attention from the Plame affair?

I could easily see Rove argue: "We all know Miers is not qualified to be on the Court. So let's nominate her, let the blogs and the politicians jump all over her. The press will have a field day, which will detract attention from the Plame thing, and then, at an opportune moment, Bush and Miers will conveniently withdraw her nomination and we can move forward with a legitimate nomination."

Or is even Rove not cagey enough for that move?

Anonymous said...

Dave -

the problem with your theory is

A) The Miers nomination didn't bump the Plame investigation from front and center. In fact, the insular, crony nature of the nomination echoed/reinforced the insular crony nature of the group being investigated by Fitzgerald.

B) Even, if the next nominee is the most exciting conservative ever (Bork, Owens, etc.) it will be done with all the boldness stripped out of it. It will appear plainly as a desperate bid by a flailing president to buy back people who were his friends only a few weeks ago (pre-Miers).

ALH ipinions said...


I appreciate Dave's Machiavellian thought. But I think this episode was more about Bush misjudging the passion for judicial jihad amongst the extreme right wing of his Party.

Harriet Miers suffered a preemptive Bork by Republican mutineers. Bush caved! He let Miers wither on the political vine; and let’s face it, even an intellectual (and no doubt emotional) heavyweight like Lani Guinier could not survive such a “high-tech [political] lynching”.


Bennett said...

At first blush it seems over the top, but Rove is certainly cagey enough. It's such a cynical abuse of the nomination process, it just might be true...but unlikely.

Jessica McBride, a blogger who wrote about the possiblity of Diane Sykes as the next nominee (linked by Ann a few days ago), posted something by a GOP insider reflecting just this strategy. I hate to be too credulous of such information, but it almost makes sense.

Almost. After all, the Miers nomination is being withdrawn just in time to highlight, not conceal, any indictments that might be issued in the Plame investigation. The GOP base has been divided, and the Dem opposition to the next candidate will be at least as strong as it would have been the first time.

Dave said...

It should be noted I don't have any evidence for my theory.

It's just that--a theory.

If there is any evidence it is true, it would not surprise me, but that said, I have not seen any such evidence.

Anonymous said...


If I could I would put a little something under your Fitzmas tree.

Contributors said...

If Bush wants to see his poll numbers anywhere need 50 again I have three words for him:

Janice. Rogers. Brown.

Let's rumble Democrats...

Please, Lord, please let me live to see the day when Democrats attack a sharecroppers daughter for bad mouthing the liberal plantation. Why just the thought makes me dizzy -- like first love.

And please please please let me see Democrats filibuster the first black woman nominated to the Supreme Court because she dares to think for herself.

I wipe a tear at the joy the mere anticipation of such a thing brings.

reader_iam said...

You may wish to read this analysis:


He has a couple of posts re: Miers and his view on what it means going forward, especially for the right.

(And no, I'm in no way connected with that blog or blogger.)

Btw, does anybody have any thoughts on Chris Matthews championing of Ted Olson? Would it be a positive thing or a negative thing that he lost his wife, Barbara, on 9/11?

Anonymous said...

Crooks and Liars has the video of Joe Scarborough speaking with Katie Couric. Joe calls Cheney a liar and says that Miers' withdrawal is an embarassement for a Whitehouse and a President that doesn't like to admit that he is wrong.

chuck b. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
chuck b. said...

Hmm, I wonder who the president feels more like brawling with, liberals as Barnes presumes, or conservatives like Barnes?

Who can least afford that brawl?

Sloanasaurus said...

Withdrawl of the Miers nomination is just what Bush needed. THis will make him stronger not weaker.

You could say he caved to his base on Miers. But, you could also say that the base now owes Bush total backing...and Bush will get it.

I also heard Pelosi complaining about conservatives in Congress trying to cut the budget. THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!

Now all we need as an "overreach" from a zealous prosecutor to really fire up conservatives for '06.

The corner has been turned.

pct said...

So The Base wants a brawl. No one has mentioned the Tony Soprano option, in which Bush nominates Ronald Dworkin to make The Base wimper and plead for Miers back.

Crow said...

Nominate Richard Epstein. That's exactly the brawl the Bush needs, and it's one he can win. Have him travel to New London, and make sure Susette Kelo is standing next to him for the announcement.

Contributors said...

Ted Olson?

PatCA said...

I don't think it will be much of a brawl. The right has revolted against the moderate concessions of their president, and won. They're outgunned inside the chamber, and those angry villagers just outside the gates look like they're in for the long haul.

Synova said...

I like Baldilock's theory.

Bush was "rewarded" for his last, excessively qualified, candidate (and my brain just lost the new Cheif Justice's name,) with lukewarm support... and didn't at least one Republican vote against him? And the Democrats made a big deal of their disapproval and reluctance to vote for him. Some even said that the next candidate was toast, whoever it was.

So they got Miers.

If the Senate doesn't want to take the Supreme Court nominees seriously, turning it all into a partisan game, and the Republican Senators play along, then they deserved a candidate like Miers. (Lovely person that she may well be.)

jeff said...

1. Assume Janice Rogers Brown was on the shortlist above Harriet Miers. It's a reasonable assumption.

James Dobson (who has no reason to lie, nor any history of doing so, has stated that he was told that several people requested to be removed from the short list in order to avoid the nasty slime monsters known as Senators.

JRB may be happy enough with where she is to not want to go through that nonsense again so soon. And is probably not terribly happy at being pressured to do things simply to boost the conservative cause.

And the new Chief Justice's name is John Roberts.

Joaquin said...

Did someone say something about a brawl?

Unknown said...

Bush uses a brawl when he needs to for pure political purposes, i.e. winning an election. I.e. spreading untrue rumors about John McCain having a black child in the South Carolina primaries, resorting to homophobia to rally the base, etc.

Besides that - he usually tries to act Presidential.

The question is whether or not he will view the upcoming indictments as a threat to his administration - and will thus pick a staunch conservative to not only rally the base, but to annoy the opposition.

My hunch is that he won't. Bush realizes that he doesn't have to face any more elections, so I think he will go for his legacy and appoint another Roberts. Edith Jones would fit the bill. As would a Garza.

Why is Bush worried about the indictments anyway? Nobody is making a charge against the President himself. The smart thing to do would be to demand their resignations (Rove, etc.) if any indictments come down.

Anonymous said...

In Bush's place I'd be tempted to reward the conservative base for its loyalty by nominating Cass Sunstein.

reader_iam said...

Dirty Harry: Are you asking who he is? Or was I being too irrelevant?


(But note that he left his post as Solicitor General in 2004.)

I'm not advocating for or against him, I'm just wondering what people think--about him and the fact that Chris Matthews' seems to think he's one model for the type of person who would be a serious nominee. Olson does have a varied and broad background. Of course, I wouldn't know the internal lawyerly scuttlebut. His wife, Barbara, also an attorney, died on 9/11 as a passenger on the plane that hit, I believe, the Pentagon.

Of course, his wife's death was a negative for him; in my original post. I meant, would that sort of experience be perceived as a negative or positive in terms of any cases related to terrorism, etc., that could come before the court.

Of course, one negative for the other side of the aisle would be that he argued for the Bush side in Bush v Gore.

Contributors said...

I was listing Ted Olson as a possibility.

All I know is this: The Republicans gave Bush a very hard time and now got what they wished for. So... Are they ready to go nuclear now? If Bush hands them a Rogers or Owen they had damn well be ready to take it all the way especially after slapping Bush in the face. (Not that he didn't slap them first.)

No, I don't think that was the grand master plan the whole time... I don't think Bush threw in Miers hoping it would force the Senate Republicans to grow a spine...

But they may just have to do what they might not have been willing to before the nomination, and that's press the red button to end the filibuster.

They better be.

Beth said...

Re: Janice Rogers Brown, that "sharecropper's daughter" trope is silly and elitist. I'm a sharecropper's daughter, too. So, DirtyHarry, no more arguing with me! I have the moral authority of the po' whitetrash class. Seriously, arguing that Democrats can't question and oppose a black conservative nominee is patronizing to the nominee. What makes her ideology sacrosanct? What makes challenging her racist? I'm pretty proud that my sharecropper father managed to get the hell out of the cotton fields, and I'm proud of America for supporting its WWII vets with the GI Bill, which allowed my dad to raise his kids with more opportunities than he had. And what's that got to do with the Supreme Court? Not a damn thing.

It's pretty funny listening to elitist white conservatives: WE'VE got a sharecropper's daughter! Nyah nyah nyah! Well, you're still wrong on the issues, so, nyah nyah back atcha.

Contributors said...

My point was that you're going to have a bunch of rich white elitist's telling a sharecroppers daughter she's not liberal enough as though they know better. As if they know what's best for the poor. As if they know what's best for blacks.

They will treat her as a traitor to her race just like they did Clarence Thomas.

And I will savor every minute of it.

Brown is an outspoken conservative who compares liberalism to slavery. I want to see them debate that with her.

And I never argued "that Democrats can't question and oppose a black conservative nominee[.]" They have every right to and i hope they do because it's going to be a beautiful thing to see.

vnjagvet said...

Althous for SCOTUS. Pass it on.

Bennett said...

I can't wait for the first time a nominee comes up who has had a blog.

Contributors said...

Althouse would never make it. She has a blogtrail. You can't have a blogtrail and get on the SCOTUS. And believe me we will be hearing that term this decade.

Sloanasaurus said...

I would take Brown, Luttig, or Jones. McConnel seems to academic.

Ann Althouse said...

You have to be sort of inhumanely clean. Who even wants to be like that? I consider myself a buffoon if not a devil compared to the sort of choirboys and girls that are required. Plus, even if you've blogged in the past, you'd at least have to give up blogging in the future (not to mention podcasting!). That's a hell of a sacrifice. You have to love power to want to make a sacrifice that big. No true blogger would do it!

SamIAm said...

I'd like to see Emilio Garza get the nod. He's been on the bench for a long while, so there'd be no "hiding the ball" on his judicial philosphy. With him, we could have an honest debate about whether hot-button social issues (like abortion) should be returned to the state legislatures (as he has stated). Also, it is about time for a Hispanic to join the court. Does anyone else have these powerful attributes?

EddieP said...

Althouse has already been named a playful primate, how would that look to Schumer and Biden? Kennedy would be looking around for Chris Dodd or someone to help him make a sandwich of her.

reader_iam said...

When you think about it, it is hard to fathom why anyone would want to be a Supreme at all. Or, for that matter, almost anything else in public service life.

Sad state of affairs.

the pooka said...

Barnes -- in his characteristic ham-fisted way -- knows of what he speaks. The Reds (necks, states, etc.) never quite "got it" on Miers, never understood why the Hannities, the Coulters, and the rest of the brownshirt spin-meisters never got behind their guy's nominee. She wasn't Pat Robertson, to be sure, but she was Bush's guy -- figuratively speaking -- and we're all supposed to trust the president when he makes decisions for us, right?

Now we'll get a nominee who Bush & Co. will be sure to vet with the far right's chattering class. And the result will be predictable: Dems and their allies in the ACLU, NARAL, NOW, and so forth will oppose him/her, GOPers will back him/her unconditionally (indeed, hyperbolically), and -- best of all -- the Miller Lite crowd in Red Cloud, Nebraska will understand the nature of the debate. Once again, the pin-headed coastal liberals will be opposing something our president -- OUR president, dammit! -- is doing, and once again they will rally behind him.

But if Miers' fifteen minutes revealed anything to me, it's that the common folk wisdom about the irreconcilable intellectual/manual, white/blue collar divide in the Democratic party has the potential to be even more severe for the GOP. Ronald Reagan & Co. saw and took advantage of the former, and -- to a lesser extent -- Bill Clinton the latter.

Here's hoping for another Bill.

Truly said...

Wait, Professor Althouse--

Are you saying if you had to choose between the Supreme Court and your blog, you'd pick the blog?

That's what I call dedication!

Dave said...

What's pooka talking about?!

Is that really Miers in disguise? The writing seems as inscrutable?

Ann Althouse said...

Truly: I did say that. I love the blog. And the podcast.

Beth said...

Dirty Harry relishes seeing a bunch of rich white elitist's telling a sharecroppers daughter she's not liberal enough as though they know better. As if they know what's best for the poor. As if they know what's best for blacks.

Again, what does being a sharecropper's daughter have to do with liberalism or conservatism? It's a stupid little chant, that serves to make the rich white elitist GOP conservatives proud of themselves for having a daughter of poor, black sharecropper's in their ranks. I'll be happy to see anyone debate her on her assertion that liberalism is slavery. She doesn't win that one by virture of her race, and the conservative movement doesn't absolve its racism by it's glee over the conservative "sharecropper's daughter."

Beth said...

Nor does knowing what's best for the poor mean knowing what's best for black Americans. The two groups are not the same, nor are black Americans an undifferentiated mass. The poor come in all shapes and colors, and black Americans inhabit all the economic classes. A whole lot of them are liberal Democrats. Are they being hoodwinked? Too dumb to understand they're being held in "slavery" by liberalism? I'm more and more amazed by the patronizing beliefs in this "sharecropper's daughter" mythos, the more I explore it.

If Brown is nominated, she'll won't be running for our national archetype of poor, and black.

Synova said...

"...nor are black Americans an undifferentiated mass."

I think that's the point. Last election there was quite a bit of dismay from Democrats that certain social and ethnic groups were voting against their interests. Poor people. Black people. I read Baldilocks and sometimes Nykola, as well as gaypatriot, and it is not easy at all to be "differentiated" politically if one is a minority. It's not actually *acceptable* to be differentiated in our political climate unless you're white. (I'd say "and male" except that conservative or libertarian women give the "we represent women's concerns" BS the credit it deserves.)

john(classic) said...

Why is it a choice between the blog and being a Supreme Court Justice?

I sort of assumed that we would be treated to some live blogging off the bench during oral argument, an occasional fuming but suitably vague (secrecy, don't you know) post about conferences, and the sporadic beautiful photo of a white house dinner setting.

I am crushed to think that you would let a little thing like sticking "Justice" in front of "pantherine aviatrix" cause you to abandon your faithful readers.

Sigh. Now I understand about this "grow in office" thing they talk about. Once one has seen the bright lights...

Undercover Christian said...

the conservative movement doesn't absolve its racism

Its racism? What are you talking about?

Policy Analyst said...

I think Rove is cagey enough to put up Miers knowing that she would not get passed go. However, I dont think it was to deflect attention from Plame-gate, but to use as a either an out to say, "hey we tried a woman", or to shift the frame of discussion from that of John Roberts, a highly qualified nominee. The next person put up for nomination will appear overly qualified as compared to Miers. Whomever is next will naturally be compared to Miers and less so with Roberts--easing the way for the nomination.