Thursday :: Oct 6, 2005

Now It's Novak's Turn To Be Unhappy About Miers


by Steve

Yesterday, it was George Will pissing all over Bush’s selection of Harriet Miers. Today, it’s Bob Novak:

Nothing could have more quickly deflated Republican spirits. The antidote to the Iraq-Katrina malaise was the spectacular confirmation performance by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Republicans eagerly awaited Act Two: confirmation of a successor to social liberal Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. This was one issue where the wind was at Bush's back, not in his face. But he robbed his legions of spirit with the Miers nomination.
In singing Miers' praises, Bush agents contend her every thought is of the president's best interests, not her own. That may be a desirable profile for a White House counsel, but it hardly commends a Supreme Court justice who will be around long after George W. Bush is gone. By naming his longtime attorney, Bush risks the charge of cronyism. After the Michael Brown fiasco at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Miers might seem the last person he would name to the Supreme Court.

In a Page One piece in today’s Washington Post, it is clear that Bush’s emissaries are getting worked over by the conservative base in their efforts to line up support.

Bush tried to defuse the smoldering conservative revolt with a Rose Garden news conference Tuesday, and the White House followed up yesterday by dispatching Gillespie, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and presidential aide Tim Goeglein to meetings that regularly bring together the city's most influential fiscal, religious and business conservatives.
"The message of the meetings was the president consulted with 80 United States senators but didn't consult with the people who elected him," said Manuel A. Miranda, a former nominations counsel for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who attended both private meetings.
Weyrich, who hosted one of the meetings, said afterward that he had rarely seen the level of passion at one of his weekly sessions. "This kind of emotional thing will not happen" often, Weyrich said. But he feared the White House advisers did not really grasp the seriousness of the conservative grievance. "I don't know if they got the message. I didn't sense that they really understand where people were coming from."
Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and host of the other meeting, declined to comment on the discussion because of its presumption of confidentiality but said there is widespread concern given the experience with the nomination of Justice David H. Souter, who proved more liberal once on the bench. "There's a great deal of frustration because of the Souter experience," Norquist said. "The problem is there's no fixing, there's no allaying those fears. For the president to say 'Trust me,' it's what he needs to say and has to say, but it doesn't calm the waters."
At one point in the first of the two off-the-record sessions, according to several people in the room, White House adviser Ed Gillespie suggested that some of the unease about Miers "has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism." Irate participants erupted and demanded that he take it back. Gillespie later said he did not mean to accuse anyone in the room but "was talking more broadly" about criticism of Miers.
The 90-minute Norquist session, where Gillespie appeared before 100 activists, was the more fiery encounter, according to participants. Among those speaking out was Jessica Echard, executive director of the Eagle Forum, founded by Phyllis Schlafly. Although she declined to give a full account later because of the meeting ground rules, Echard said in an interview that her group could not for now support Miers: "We feel this is a disappointment in President Bush. If it's going to be a woman, we expected an equal heavyweight to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her liberal stance, and we did not get that in Miss Miers."

The right wing base is pissed because one of Clinton’s picks was of higher quality than Bush’s?

Another conservative captured the mood, according to a witness, by scorning Miers. "She's the president's nominee," he said. "She's not ours."

But the Beltway types still say Miers will get through just fine.

Steve :: 8:09 AM :: Comments (10) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!