Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Faith-Based Nomination

[[C O U R T S]] * Now, I must confess that conservative columnist George F. Will and I are rarely defending the same battlements. However, he’s got it right in today’s Washington Post when he opines of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers that “It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court’s tasks. The president’s ‘argument’ for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to ...”

Indeed, haven’t Americans already trusted George W. Bush’s judgment too often? Remember, this is the guy who in 2001 said he’d looked Russian President Vladimir Putin “in the eye” and was thereby “able to get a sense of his soul.” He said he had faith that Putin would do the right thing. Of course, that wasn’t so long before Russian assistance in the building of nuclear-powered electricity plants in Iran threatened to start a U.S. war against the Islamic republic. And this is the very same guy who subsequently asked us to trust him when he and his secretary of state insisted that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons”--all of which turned out to be untrue. Don’t forget, either, that Bush wanted Americans to trust him once more when he said, during his embarrassing performance in last year’s presidential debates, that he would make them safer. That was just 11 months before Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans, exposing the inadequacy of administration preparations for a natural disaster and making a mockery of Bush’s reliance on cronyism as an employment philosophy.

But I digress. Let’s return to Will’s published assertions that Bush lacks the “ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution,” and that Miers does not possess the “interests and talents pertinent to the court’s role” that are to be expected of a Supreme Court justice--both of which he suggests might make Miers’ nomination indefensible. (And both of which impugn the intelligence and reflective aptitude of the present White House in language that would probably have been ignored, had a Democrat made those same charges.) Will maintains that Bush, his fellow Republican, has already “forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution,” thanks to his signing, in 2002, of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance limitations--which Will, in his wisdom, believes are unconstitutional. “Furthermore,” the columnist writes, “there is no reason to believe that Miers’s nomination resulted from the president’s careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers’s name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.”

However, “the crowning absurdity” of the Miers nomination, to Will’s thinking, “is the obvious assumption that the Supreme Court is, like a legislature, an institution of representation”--that it is important to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with another woman. Will concludes:
Minutes after the president announced the nomination of his friend from Texas, another Texas friend, Robert Jordan, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was on Fox News proclaiming what he and, no doubt, the White House that probably enlisted him for advocacy, considered glad and relevant tidings: Miers, Jordan said, has been a victim. She has been, he said contentedly, “discriminated against” because of her gender.

Her victimization was not so severe that it prevented her from becoming the first female president of a Texas law firm as large as hers, president of the State Bar of Texas and a senior White House official. Still, playing the victim card clarified, as much as anything has so far done, her credentials, which are her chromosomes and their supposedly painful consequences. For this we need a
conservative president?
While Will clobbers his man in the White House on competency grounds, the Left Coaster’s Steve Soto does a nice takedown of the prez on technique. He observes that Bush’s defensive statement to the press on Tuesday morning, in which he asserted that, with Miers he had “picked the best person I could find,” pretty much dissed “every well-qualified conservative judge in the country.” With that single remark, Soto writes, Bush “tossed twenty years of hard work by the [right-]wingers to seize the judiciary into the Dumpster ... With all the pretty American flags lined up as the perfect backdrop for a failing president, Mr. Bush did his best in his press conference this morning to reassure his own base that Harriet Miers was conservative enough to please them. And then he managed to slap in the face Edith Clement, Michael Luttig, and scores of others who have actually served on the bench, many of them people he himself has elevated to the appeals courts. So if for some reason Miers’ nomination goes down in flames, we now know that his next choice of an actual experienced jurist won’t be the best person he could find.”


Looking in from outside the Beltway, it seems that, in its haste to change the subject--to get the media focus off the mounting Republican scandals that threaten to drag a weakened Bush even further down in the job-approval polls--and to avoid a bruising fight with Democrats over this unexpected second Supreme Court pick of the year, the White House has blundered into a nomination fiasco. Not only does it promise to draw opposition from prominent Democrats, but also from congressional Republicans, with Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) being the first of those to publicly question Miers’ qualifications. It may even soil the selection of John G. Roberts Jr. as Chief Justice of the United States, which is one of the few successes the prez has had in the last two months. Don’t be surprised if Bush’s tapping of Miers for this job becomes another issue used against Republicans in the 2006 midterm elections.

READ MORE:Harriet the Meek,” by Joan Walsh (Salon); “Soothing the Seething Right Wing,” by Alexander Bolton (The Hill); “The Right Sees a Strong--and Wrong--Signal,” by Ronald Brownstein (Los Angeles Times); “With Miers, Bush Gets Fifth Vote Against Roe,” by Margaret Carlson (Bloomberg News); “GOP Hopefuls Cautious in Stance on Miers,” by Jonathan Allen (The Hill); “On Miers, the White House Takes the Right to Church,” by Tim Grieve (Salon); “All the President’s Women,” by Maureen Dowd (The New York Times); “Supreme Court Cronyism: Bush Restarts a Long and Troubled Tradition,” by David Greenberg (Slate); “The Truman Show,” by William J. Stuntz (The New Republic); “What’s Next?,” by Norm Ornstein (The Huffington Post).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Harriet Miers is a Jew. Do you remember - during the presidential election - when John Kerry 'found out' that he was a Jew? Even though he played at being a Roman Catholic - for financial and political reasons... All of a sudden the Catholic Church says that neither Miers nor anyone in her family - was ever a Catholic - (and they would know)

I just wonder why she was making that claim... She looks Jewish - I would know - I'm a cantor...