'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet Miers: What the Hell? 

Well one thing is pretty clear ... If blog posts are an accurate measure, the rightwing really doesn't like Bush's latest Supreme Court pick. Here's a sampling (which I mostly ripped from M. Malkin) ...

Here's Hindrocket:

A Disappointment. Harriet Miers, that is. I'm sure that she is a capable lawyer and a loyal aide to President Bush. But the bottom line is that he had a number of great candidates to choose from, and instead of picking one of them--Luttig, McConnell, Brown, or a number of others--he nominated someone whose only obvious qualification is her relationship with him.

and Frum:

I worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... I could pile on the praise all morning. But there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or--and more importantly--that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left. This is a chance that may never occur again: a decisive vacancy on the court, a conservative president, a 55-seat Republican majority, a large bench of brilliant and superbly credentialed conservative jurists ... and what has been done with the opportunity?

I am not saying that Harriet Miers is not a legal conservative. I am not saying that she is not steely. I am saying only that there is no good reason to believe either of these things. Not even her closest associates on the job have good reason to believe either of these things. In other words, we are being asked by this president to take this appointment purely on trust, without any independent reason to support it. And that is not a request conservatives can safely grant.

and Glen Reynolds is "underwhelmed" (Christ, does that guy ever do anything besides just link to someone else's opinion? -- I was going to quote him but there's nothing to quote.)

and some guy on Red State seems to be on the verge of crying:

We've got a lot to learn about SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers. To hear the White House tell us, "With her distinguished career and extensive community involvement, Ms. Miers would bring a wealth of personal experience and diversity to the Supreme Court."
Diversity. Sure she does. In fact, she gives money to Republicans *and* Democrats.

Mr. President, you've got some explaining to do. And please remember - we've been defending you these five years because of this moment. [Here's this guy's source for the donated-to-Democrats allegation.]

I guess the idea was to pick someone who wasn't clearly rabid enough of a conservative for the Democrats to get too excited ... which typifies the sort of display of weakness that we should expect more of from the new mojo-less Bush. The choice was supposed to sneak by in the same manner that Roberts did ... the diffenence is that Roberts, say what you want about his politics, was viewed as competent.

Miers, however, is viewed as being outlandishly unqualified. Not only does this woman have no experience as a judge, she's never even argued a case before the Supreme Court. Given that the charge of cronyism has stuck in a big way to the post-Katrina White House, it's really remarkable that Bush would pick someone whose only qualification according even to conservatives is that she's a personal friend of his. Not only is she just unqualified, but in this case there's some scandalicious red meat to the charge of cronyism -- Will Bunch of the Philly Daily News reports that Harriet Miers "[knows] better than just about anyone else where the bodies are buried" regarding Bush's (lack of) service in the National Guard:

Bush's Texas gubenatorial campaign in 1998 (when he was starting to eye the White House) actually paid Miers $19,000 to run an internal pre-emptive probe of the potential scandal. Not long after, a since-settled lawsuit alleged that the Texas Lottery Commission -- while chaired by Bush appointee Miers -- played a role in a multi-million dollar cover-up of the scandal.

Whatever Miers knows about the president's troubled past, she may soon be keeping that information underneath the black robe of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Miers, who not long ago succeeded Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez as White House counsel, is now Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor:

Miers is a skilled lawyer -- mainly on behalf of big business, including Microsoft and Disney -- and the first woman elected Texas State Bar President. But her main qualifications for the highest court in the land appear to be the same as most of Bush's recent appointments: She is unfailingly loyal to George W. Bush.

Bunch goes on to sketch Miers' connection to another scandal, this one involving fellow Bush-Guard-service-scandal veteran Ben Barnes and corruption in the Texas Lottery Commission.

I don't know if there's anything to Bunch's insinuation that Miers was chosen because she has dirt on Bush; to be honest, I'm pretty skeptical of this sort of Google-search-inspired conspiracy-mongering, but I am surprised that Bush (or Rove) would choose someone that makes it so easy to spin yarns like the above, and can't help wondering if SCOTUSblog's Tom Goldstein, of Goldstein & Howe, P.C., "the nation's only Supreme Court litigation boutique", might be right on this one -- Goldstein predicts that Miers will not be confirmed:

I really need to get down to the Court to argue but wanted to note my sense that the President's nomination creates a very interesting political dynamic - one that places the nomination in peril. The nomination obviously will be vigorously supported by groups created for the purpose of pressing the President's nominees, and vigorously opposed by groups on the other side. But within the conservative wing of the Republican party, there is thus far (very early in the process) only great disappointment, not enthusiasm. They would prefer Miers to be rejected in the hope - misguided, I think - that the President would then nominate, for example, Janice Rogers Brown. Moderate Republicans have no substantial incentive to support Miers, and the President seems to have somewhat less capital to invest here. On the Democratic side, there will be inevitable - perhaps knee-jerk - opposition. Nor does Miers have a built in "fan base" of people in Washington, in contrast to the people (Democratic and Republican) who knew and respected John Roberts. Even if Democrats aren't truly gravely concerned, they will see this as an opportunity to damage the President. The themes of the opposition will be cronyism and inexperience. Democratic questioning at the hearings will be an onslaught of questions about federal constitutional law that Miers in all likelihood won't want to, or won't be able to (because her jobs haven't called on her to study the issues), answer. I have no view on whether she should be confirmed (it's simply too early to say), but will go out on a limb and predict that she will be rejected by the Senate. In my view, Justice O'Connor will still be sitting on the Court on January 1, 2006.

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