October 27, 2005

"That isn't centrist. That's very liberal."

Captain Ed comes out in opposition to Harriet Miers, based on the speech she gave in 1993 to the Executive Women of Dallas, which he's read four times. He detects -- in addition to bad writing -- liberalism:
Miers wrote the speech for executive women the year before her first official campaign position with George Bush. She doesn't seem to share much of Bush's political views at this time, which belies the notion that she represents some rock, impervious to prevailing winds. For instance, on abortion, we get this declaration:

"The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual woman's right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion."

Does that sound to anyone like someone committed to opposing abortion, or even allowing the issues to be decided by the legislatures?...

[T]his speech gives so mamy reasons to oppose Miers that it's a wonder she hasn't already repudiated it as a youthful indiscretion. There's hardly a passage in here that gives any credence to the notion of Harriet Miers as an originalist, or even a conservative.
This sort of analysis, designed to pry Bush supporters away from Miers, should encourage Democratic senators to support her. If the Democrats all decide to support her, shouldn't she still manage to get enough votes from Republican senators to make it through? Surely, a majority can be reached by adding on hardcore Bush supporters, pro-choice Republicans, and Republican political pragmatists who can see what damage the annihilation of abortion rights would do to their party.

Folks like Captain Ed seem to think Miers is such a mediocre mind that going to the hearings will prove nothing but a horrible embarrassment. I've made some predictions of that sort myself. Yesterday, I expressed some sympathy for her, as various senators were saying nasty things indicating that they thought she wasn't smart enough for the job. Once they think you're dumb, I said, whatever you say is likely to confirm it. But later, I started to think, it might not be so. Remember how everyone adored John Roberts's performance at the hearings and said things like he displayed an encyclopedic knowledge of constitutional law? But the fact is: he didn't. There was actually very little occasion for him to explain any constitutional law in serious detail. I TiVo-blogged much of the Roberts hearings, and, really, I think he used a set of strategies to talk about the things at a general level and to stay away from controvery and difficulty.

The people who are helping Miers can read through the Roberts hearings and analyze what he actually did to create that impression of encyclopedic knowledge: Assume he didn't have the knowledge but had some smart techniques for surviving the hearings. Classify the strategies. Maybe he had ten. Maybe five. I think if Miers sat through the hearings following a set of rules distilled from the Roberts hearings, giving short clear (but not revealing) answers to the questions, not taking any bait or looking disturbed by any senatorial blustering, she'd make it.

Bush has dug in. I thought he would withdraw the nomination, but now, as so much time has passed and so much battering has already been endured, I think he'll stick it out. I remember thinking Clarence Thomas would cave after the Anita Hill testimony at his confirmation hearings. But he sat through it and survived. I tend to think Miers will too.

UPDATE: While I was writing that, of course, Miers withdrew!

ANOTHER UPDATE: I went back to proofread this ill-fated post about the ill-fated candidate and saw that I'd written "Once they think your dumb, I said, whatever you say is likely to confirm it." I've corrected that, but maybe I should have left it uncorrected, and said it was a deliberate tribute to Harriet Miers's Blog!!! which always got your and you're wrong. Poor Harriet Miers's Blog!!! It's not long for this world. I see the pink has turned to black!

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