October 10, 2005

A MIERS MELTDOWN? More and more, I have to wonder what the White House was thinking with this. First of all, when you’re already under fire for cronyism, and you nominate someone who’s, well, a crony, you ought to be locked-and-loaded in terms of response. They weren’t.

Second of all, they seem to have managed to convince a lot of people on the social right that she’s too liberal, while people on the libertarian-right worry that she’s too much a fan of government power. Third, their response to critics and complaints has been slow and weak.

I realize that the White House is busy — perhaps busier than we realize from news coverage — with a lot of war and foreign-policy questions. But if so, isn’t that more reason to go with a safe pick of the Michael McConnell variety? Whatever else she is (and she could, of course, turn out to be fine as a Justice) Miers wasn’t a safe pick. Republican Senators are underwhelmed, as are Republican bloggers, and John Fund — after doing some interviewing — has changed his mind and now thinks she shouldn’t be confirmed. Talk Radio host Michael Graham has started up a Stop Miers Now! website. And the White House, even if it’s spoiling for a fight with its base, isn’t up to the job, as Fund notes:

It is traditional for nominees to remain silent until their confirmation hearings. But previous nominees, while unable to speak for themselves, have been able to deploy an array of people to speak persuasively on their behalf. In this case, the White House spin team has been pathetic, dismissing much of the criticism of Ms. Miers as “elitism” or even echoing Democratic senators who view it as “sexist.” But it was Richard Land , president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who went so far as to paint Ms. Miers as virtually a tool of the man who has been her client for the past decade. “In Texas, we have two important values, courage and loyalty,” he told a conference call of conservative leaders last Thursday. “If Harriet Miers didn’t rule the way George W. Bush thought she would, he would see that as an act of betrayal and so would she.” That is an argument in her favor. It sounds more like a blood oath than a dignified nomination process aimed at finding the most qualified individual possible.

Read the whole Fund piece, which is just devastating. And then note that Miers is being opposed over at PoliPundit.

The fact is that Miers would probably agree with me on more issues than a candidate who would be supported by a lot of those who are opposing her. (I don’t shiver with horror when Sandra Day O’Connor is mentioned, though I prefer the O’Connor of South Dakota v. Dole to some of her later incarnations — but, then, I prefer the O’Connor of South Dakota v. Dole to a lot of alleged conservatives in Raich, too.) But her nomination looks like a major political blunder for the Administration, which has yet to provide any very convincing reasons why she belongs on the court more than any of several thousand other lawyers with similar credentials. What’s more, there are good reasons why the path from White House Counsel to Supreme Court Justice isn’t a well-trodden one, and there are more good reasons why it probably shouldn’t become well-trodden.

On the other hand, SkyMuse says that Miers nomination critics are missing the big picture.

What do you think? I’m opening comments on this post, so weigh in.

UPDATE: Comments don’t seem to be working. I’m not sure what’s wrong.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Fixed now. Comment away — be nice!

MORE: Some people are still having problems with the comments. Sorry — I’ll try to get it fixed.

LATER: Comments are open, but I’m having, for some reason, to approve them individually. So don’t re-enter yours when you don’t see it appear; I’ll get to it.

LATER STILL: Okay, it’s been over 24 hours, and I’m turning them off before the spammers move in.

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