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.