Language, Mr. Baker, Language

I need this Harriet Miers thing to go away.

My reflections on Bush have nearly reached the pitch blackness of the worst moments of the Clinton era when he pled for an end to the Monica story because he needed to be about the business of the American people, as though there was a room somewhere that required his steady hand on the controls.

At least Bush can claim he’s been distracted by the extraordinary challenge of Iraq.

But it’s not good enough, not nearly. I’d love to hear from the other RC’ers on this question, but I do believe the Miers nomination is the biggest political <expletives deleted> screw-up (the replacement term) I have ever seen in my lengthening life.

We’ve had S.T. play the “she’ll vote fine” card and Tom urge tolerance in light of core values the president may be observing and those are good things to say. I count them better men than I for holding their water with so much less volatility.

But all of this ignores the fact that there has been a conservative legal movement going strong for about twenty years now. It has certain identifiable members. Resume’s from that group look a certain way. They are a lot like Bork except more diplomatic and more careful. Bush was very definitely understood to be referring to this group of people when he said he wanted originalists like Scalia and Thomas.

Many members of this group are quite well-accomplished as academics, jurists, or both. The expectation has been building for this entire period, really longer than twenty years, that when we had both the White House and the Senate, we would nominate these people and WIN.

For the President to choose any other course of action is almost willfully dense or offensive. To compound the offense by claiming he selected the most-qualified person available is insulting. To the extent men I admire, like James Dobson and Chuck Colson, seconded Bush in this choice I can only imagine that they found it difficult to oppose a personal request from the President when he offered his word of honor.

For the White House to expect the controversy would blow over in 48 hours displays the same kind of tone-deafness that utterly failed to prepare the American people for the size and duration of the action in Iraq.

There is no other way out than to start over. The President is picking Hugo Black over Learned Hand and that is just not the way to do things (forgive me for an illustration that may not resonate with non-legal types). It isn’t fair to the people who have prepared for these opportunities. It isn’t fair to Harriet Miers. It boggles my mind that she didn’t refuse him if he brought up the idea.

What’s going on is more of the old LBJ, Bull—-, down-home politics and that just isn’t the way you handle the court. If Bill Clinton can nominate and confirm a former ACLU bigwig like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then I dare say we need not do less when our opportunities arise.

Call time out, Mr. President. Step back from the plate. Clear your head. Find an honorable way to start over. Then, swing away.

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18 thoughts on “Language, Mr. Baker, Language

  1. I am no legal scholar, but my first (gut) reaction was, WTF?

    I have gone back and forth on this issue, and will reserve judgement until after the confirmation hearings.

    Where (who?) were his advisors during this process?

  2. I was just reading a hardball transcript and it occured to me that some of these issues may be connected.

    They were discussing the quite possible coming indictments for ROve, Libby, Cheney, and about half of the white house staff. Furthermore they mentioned that the president appears to be trying to insulate himself by distancing from the most likely indictees.

    If that’s the case it means all of Bush’s A team is basically spinning their thumbs while the B team is calling the shots (lead by Card?).

    That might go a long way toward explaining the boneheaded political response to Katrina as well as the highly suspect Miers nomination. I was frankly agape at the thought that Rove let either happen on his watch, but maybe the problem is that for once Rove couldn’t steer the president around his own incompetence.

    Of course if true and if a significant number of Bush’s brain trust do get indicted then we can look forward to 3 more years of utter incompetence from the president and his advisors.

  3. I heard some speculation on NPR today about the whole Card vs. Rove thing. Tlaloc’s point actually makes a lot of sense in light of the conflict between the two men and their staff.

    I’m not surprised that Dobson finds Miers an acceptable pick. Bush is hardly a conservative loyalist. He is a Republican big-business loyalist and an evangelical loyalist. Everything else he did and said in 2003-2004 (i,e. “Golly, I like that Scalia fellow!”) was designed to turn out as many voters as he could, and I don’t believe he has any intent on following through now that he faces no personal consequences.

  4. “Call time out, Mr. President. Step back from the plate. Clear your head. Find an honorable way to start over. Then, swing away.”

    Do you think he is reading your posts? You probably would get more satisfaction by sending your posts to comments@whitehouse.gov. Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder if he is more like GHWB than I had imagined. I was suspicious of his father and now I am becoming increasingly suspicious of him (and disappointed).

  5. I’m not sure he’s reading me or any other blogger/political writer, but he is definitely getting the collective effect.

  6. “I’m not sure he’s reading me or any other blogger/political writer, but he is definitely getting the collective effect.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure. Afterall this administration is legendary for keeping the president from knowing the downside to his policies. He doesn’t read the newspaper or watch the news, so how is he to know what happens if his advisors choose not to tell him? Then again given his rather snappish support of miers it’s pretty clear that SOME of the criticism is leaking through, but how much is “some”?

  7. I think it’s meltdown time in the White House. It’s “better not bug the boss” time. He’s pissed and snippy. In other words, he “feels our pain.” I wish he’d fulfill his own campaign pledges instead of Clinton’s.

  8. “I wish he’d fulfill his own campaign pledges instead of Clinton’s.”

    I wish he was reading from Clinton’s script. Imagine a budget surplus and a functioning FEMA. He can have all the oval office hummers he wants just stop running the country into the ground.

  9. And what great initiatives did Clinton undertake in dealing with those problems. Louis Freeh apparently feels he, how shall I put it, sucked.

  10. Game, set & match, Mr. Baker. I wonder if Freeh will get all the credence heaped upon the far less pivotal character of Richard Clarke, who, Marley-like, still drags his chains through the lefty blogosophere, as well as the most recent issue of the fallen, post-Kelly Atlantic.

  11. The toughest crisis Clinton faced was finding a good dry cleaner for a missing denim dress.

    Well yes, he certainly lacked Bush’s ability to create his own crises like Iraq.

    With all due deference to Tom giving Mr. Baker game, set and match I am a proponent of Branch Rickey’s statement that luck is a residue of design.

    There is a lot to be said for recognizing potential crises and avoiding them. In complete sincerity with partisanship playing no part, I swear, invading Iraq was not the way to deal with 9/11.

  12. There’s a lot less to be said for avoiding potential crises, which I believe is Freeh’s contention.

  13. There’s a lot less to be said for avoiding potential crises, which I believe is Freeh’s contention.

    What, we are playing semantics here?

    Recognizing that an action could provoke a crisis and avoiding that action can be smart. Avoid, avert, pre-empt, whatever.

    It’s hard to feel sympathy for a President who is a victim of crises that were created by his own stupid rushing in where angels fear to tread.

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