Requiem for a Lightweight
Are you kidding? If there was headroom they'd hold these things in sewers.The withdrawal of Harriet Meiers' nomination to the Supreme Court was predictable, and predicted by many, soon after the Right-wing extremists who dominate today's Republican Party began viciously attacking her.
They opposed her nomination because they feared as a judge she would not be sufficiently committed to their political agenda -- against a woman's privacy right to choose, for entanglement of the Government with religion (as long as it's their religion), against federal laws that seek to ensure equal treatment for all, in favor of state laws that discriminate against the elderly, women, minorities, and state workers, in opposition to state or federal consumer protection legislation, and for an expansive Executive branch empowered to trample the Bill of Rights in the name of the endless "war on terror."
Congressional Democrats sat on their hands (an all-too familiar posture for them in the last five years). This left the Meiers nomination bereft of any support, certainly none that mattered, other than that of George W. Bush himself. It is a measure of Bush's drastically diminished circumstance that this wasn't enough.
To be sure, Ms. Meirs did not present the professional profile one would expect of a Supreme Court justice. She has no judicial experience. She's not been an advocate before the Supreme Court, a U.S. Senator, a respected academic, or a past president of the United States -- all qualifications that one or another successful nominee has brought to the Court. She didn't make her mark as a war hero, a principled policy progenitor, or skillful government administrator -- as other justices have done.
Meiers' single strength, bluntly put, was her long time fawning relationship with Mr. Bush. Other than that, hers was largely a blank slate on which mostly anti-environmental corporations and tax cheats had written. Furthermore, what few documents the White House was willing to release -- namely, her sophomoric mash notes to Bush -- exposed the poor woman as an embarassing sycophant.
Still, one can feel a genuine touch of sympathy for Ms. Meiers. She had thrust upon her a role she had no business playing. She was so unqualified some now suspect she was set up to fail. Others blame her for allowing herself to be abused in this way, but as many have said about the late Arthur Goldberg's decision to exchange his lifetime seat on the Supreme Court for the position of U.N. ambassador during the Vietnam War, when the president says your country needs you it is difficult to say no.
Make no mistake about it, however: what the Meiers nomination and its withdrawal show is that George W. Bush will shamelessly use his Supreme Court nomination powers not for the betterment of the Court or the Nation, but for personal political cover to slap over his own ass. With public opinion polls showing his popularity falling off a cliff, Congressional Republicans restive, and Fitzgerald almost certain to pick off a few of his closest associates, Bush needs to raise friends as fast as the manager of a punch-drunk has-been boxer needs to raise cash.
Mr. Bush isn't going to find them anywhere except in the far right fringe. That's the same bunch of wingnuts who continue to claim, against all evidence, that Clarence Thomas is competent. So, we can expect his next Court nominee will make Harriet Meiers look as judicious as Learned Hand.
Senate Democrats got away with one by sitting out the Meirs nomination. That isn't likely to happen again.