Monday :: Oct 3, 2005

Pissing Off His Base, Bush Nominates Crony Harriet Miers To Replace Sandra Day O'Connor

by Steve

She rose to her present position by her absolute devotion to George Bush. I mentioned last week that she told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. To flatter on such a scale a person must either be an unscrupulous dissembler, which Miers most certainly is not, or a natural follower. And natural followers do not belong on the Supreme Court of the United States.
--Former Bush speechwriter (“Axis of Evil”) David Frum this morning on his blog, before he mysteriously retracted the comments.

The GOP has had near-total control of the government for almost five years now, and their think tanks and lobbying machinery have had control of the policy-making function for almost a decade. Bush has elevated numerous women, several wholly unqualified, to appeals court judgeships for the last five years. And when he had the chance to please the American Taliban, the GOP Hispanic caucus, the blacks within the party, and his pro-business base with a pivotal pick for the Supreme Court, whom did Bush select?

His 60 year-old personal attorney, who has never been a judge.

Bush nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers for the O’Connor slot on the Supreme Court this morning. She was nominated because she met three criteria that are more important to Bush right now than anything else:

1. She is a woman, so this will please Laura;
2. She has no paper trail, since she has no judicial experience;
3. She'll cover Bush's ass.

The GOP Hispanic caucus, as well as the American Taliban, probably feels let down right now, as they should. I do wonder how James Dobson feels right about now, since Roberts was not at the top of their list, and they were told to keep their powder dry because Bush would take care of them with the next pick. Similarly, the GOP Hispanic community was led to believe this was their seat. Bush could have picked a number of conservative female jurists, several of whom could have pleased both the American Taliban and a minority group that Rove has been courting for years, yet Bush went with someone who will cover his backside in any upcoming court cases on executive power. Yet since she was involved in drafting the legal arguments surrounding administration policies on terrorism, Abu Ghraib, Plame, executive privilege, privacy, and a host of other issues, how could Miers not be forced to recuse herself from hearing these cases should she be confirmed to the Supreme Court?

The base is not happy.

Floated last week, the idea that Bush might nominate Miers to the high court did not spark immediate enthusiasm from one conservative legal scholar, John Eastman of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Claremont Institute in Claremont, Calif.
"If he wants to give her judicial experience why doesn't he nominate her to the Fifth Circuit (Court of Appeals)?" asked Eastman in exasperation last Thursday. Eastman is a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.
Only minutes after Bush appeared at the White House Monday to announce the nomination, Manuel Miranda, a conservative strategist and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist issued a scathing statement: "The reaction of many conservatives today will be that the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas, who had been the president's lawyer. The nomination of a nominee with no judicial record is a significant failure for the advisers that the White House gathered around it."
While cautioning that "the president deserves the benefit of a doubt," Miranda added, "Something has been left unachieved by the Miers nomination. A Republican president has yet to erase the stigma of the (1987) Robert Bork hearings and the David Souter nomination. The nomination of Harriet Miers has not rid us of the repugnant situation that a jurist with a clear and distinguished record will not be nominated for higher service. The nomination did not rid us of the apprehension of stealth nominees."

The White House feels that after letting a white male get through, the Democrats would be hard pressed to mount an effort to stop a female. The White House is wrong. Such a conclusion may have made sense if Bush had actually nominated a judge, who would have been deemed qualified by their judicial experience, even if that nominee would have been too conservative for rank and file Democrats. But to nominate a white female with no judicial experience straight away to the highest court in the land, when he has spent the last five years elevating women of far greater depth to the appeals courts, is a move that the Democrats should respond to with the full weight of their options. Both Pat Leahy and Charles Schumer are already making such noises, even after it was disclosed that Harry Reid, for some reason, actually asked Bush to take a strong look at Miers.

Miers is being nominated for one major reason: Bush wants her and Roberts there to protect this administration in the legal battles to come. But until she is confirmed, the seat is vacant. She can be opposed simply because she isn’t qualified. At a time when matters of great importance to this nation will be coming to the court, Democrats have a right to demand as much information from Miers as possible, and if they cannot get such information, she should be opposed, even filibustered.

Simply put, unlike Roberts who came off as qualified, the Miers pick should be touted as another act of Texas cronyism, at a time when the GOP cannot afford such framing of this issue.

Oppose her. Force the GOP members of the Gang of 14 to invoke the nuclear option to put this unqualified candidate on the court by a simple majority. Given the opposition from the base, I am willing to bet that they won't blow up the filibuster for a pick like Miers. Hell, at this point, it isn't even certain that Miers would pass with the full support of the GOP Senate caucus.

Look, a man who values loyalty to him and worship of him more than qualifications and competence when selecting a judge for the highest court in the land is a man with a screw loose. There's something wrong with George W. Bush, and perhaps its time for people to start talking openly about this.

Steve :: 8:03 AM :: Comments (107) :: TrackBack (2) :: Digg It!