It sounds as if Zimbabwe is on the verge of total economic collapse, according to this New York Times story. The government is trying to put an end to the only part of the economy that works.
Perfect man-made misery.
National Review is celebrating its fiftieth birthday. I salute Buckley and everyone else involved in this great enterprise. NR has been good for the country. This was Bill Buckley’s opening statement in November, 1955, justifying the creation of this new magazine. I started reading NR in 1964 just before my first year in college. I was involved in politics, by then, you understand. Goldwater was the good guy and Rockefeller was the bad guy; he represented the East Coast Elite, Liberalism somehow in GOP clothes. Goldwater was straightforward, he spoke about extremism and liberty and virtue, and why some things are worth the effort. I stuck with the cowboy from Arizona through his unjust loss to LBJ, and then stayed with the actor who became famous during that campaign. I mention this because--and this may seem odd to you--once I started reading National Review I actually participated less in practical politics, while becoming more deeply political. By 1965 I stopped almost all my political activities (Young Republicans, etc.) because my time was now consumed less in political action than in the words surrounding that action. These guys writing for NR were interesting and, it seemed to me, deeply thoughtful about almost everything. The words in National Review, I surmised, would have much deeper effect on the common life of the nation than most elections. I was right. NR’s writers always dug deeper, led me to things I knew nothing about, led me to wonder. In short, the minds writing for NR began my education. By the summer of 1965 I was attending seminars offered by professors I could not hope to meet at the state college I attended: Ronald McArthur, Thomas Molnar, Martin Diamond, and Harry Jaffa. I have National Review to thank for all that, and I do.
It is interesting to note that the draft Goldwater movement was launched in 1961 by Ohio Congressman John Ashbrook, William Rusher (the publisher of National Review), and F. Clifton White. White ended up running the extremely effective Goldwater primary campaign against Rockefeller for the GOP nomination in 1964 (see White’s book Suite 3505: The Story of the Draft Goldwater Movement). After the death of John Ashbrook (1982) Clif White became the first director of the Ashbrook Center, with Rusher as Chairman of the Board. Rusher is still active on the Board. Of course, John Ashbrook had one more memorable national moment: He opposed Richard Nixon in the primaries in 1972 (price controls, China policy, etc.; many things about Nixon irritated Ashbrook). In the end, of course, Ashbrook failed, but he helped set things up for Reagan and the conservatism of the eighties. In all these things he was supported by National Review. This is National Review’s endorsement of Ashbrook’s campaign against Nixon in the January 21, 1972 issue of NR. Bill Buckley said of Ashbrook: "He shows the kind of political courage by which one distinguishes between those automatons who represent us in Washington and those special others who are human beings endowed with mind and an active conscience… a human force in which the high qualities of the statesman come together in profusion."
John Ashbrook died on April 24, 1982, during a campaign for the U.S. Senate (Democrat Howard Metzenbaum was running for re-election). Ashbrook was 53 years old. William Rusher mourned the passing of John Ashrbook in the May 14, 1982 issue of National Review.
If for some reason you havent followed the religion-and-politics angle of the Miers story, Terry Eastland offers a fair-minded rundown.
Poor Sen. Cornyn (R-TX): He had the duty this week to pen a Wall St. Journal op-ed arguing for Harriet Mierss appointment to the Supreme Court. Forget Charles Krauthammer, forget George Will, forget Bill Kristol and all the other "must read" op-eds against Miers. Just read Cornyns argument for Texas favorite daughter to know why this nomination is a blunder. Setting aside the straw-men arguments he knocks down, his reasons in favor of her appointment contain their own refutation. They can be summed up as follows: Miers deserves to be a S Ct justice precisely because the nomination was so un-expected, so counter-intuitive, so un-[fill in the blank].
The short response to all of this un-reasoning is the simple fact that President Bush never made any of Cornyns arguments when he discussed the qualities of potential candidates for the Court. Now for the long response: When did Bush praise the lack of "judicial experience" as refreshing for the high court? When did he extol being a "legal practitioner" as an "asset" for the Supremes? When did Bush say he couldnt wait to appoint men and women who had spent their careers "representing real people in courtrooms across America"? How often did Bush highlight "the burdens of modern litigation," "frivolous lawsuits," and "tort reform" as pressing concerns in his consideration of whom to appoint to the federal bench? Can anyone recall when Bush remarked even casually that he would jump at the chance to appoint someone who knew not "the Beltway"?
Folks like Cornyn argue that we should not "rush to judgment" simply because we dont know Miers. But Bush has told us repeatedly the kind of judges he wanted on the Court. And so the American people had every reason to expect a certain kind of judge be nominated. Two names come to mind; need I say more?
Its been said that you dont really know what your expectations are until they are disappointed. Up till now, pundits have noted how often Bush has exceeded expectations on a number of political issues. But with this nomination, having vetted numerous qualified candidates for the gig of a lifetime, the president has disappointed expectations of his own making.
This is Newt Gingrichs attempt to persuade reluctant (and angry) conservatives to give support to Bush and Miers. R.J. Pestritto is not persuaded and uses Alexander Hamiltons warning
against the nomination of candidates "who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which [the president] particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him," to make his point. Pestritto:
"The point here, of course, is not that the president should be prevented from nominating his allies or associates, but rather that ones friendship with the president should not be the primary qualification one has for office. Yes, Hamilton and Marshall were close allies of the men who nominated them, but independent of this they also happened to be supremely qualified for the posts to which they were appointed, as everybody at the time recognized. By contrast, this is exactly where the Miers appointment runs into trouble: If one omits the jobs that were given to her by President Bush—the jobs that allowed her to be named to lists of the most powerful lawyers in the country—all you have left is a corporate attorney who has shown an ability for administration, both in her firm and in bar associations. Although admirable, these, without any evidence of a developed and clear understanding of the Constitution, are not the qualifications of a Supreme Court justice. Or, to put it more bluntly, the substantial weight of the evidence of her capacity to be a justice—that is, the key government positions she has held—are all the fruits of her continuing relationship with the president. If this doesnt raise serious questions about cronyism, Im not sure what does."
And his concluding paragraph:
"Miers may turn out to be a perfectly fine justice, but there is nothing in her record which would give us any basis to believe that. Ironically, by attempting to avoid the pitfalls of modern senatorial "advice and consent," President Bush has triggered more stringent scrutiny under the framers understanding of that term as a check against the nomination of home-state cronies who lack the objective qualifications for the office. The Senate should therefore diligently exercise its check of advice and consent—not in the modern sense as a litmus test concerning ideology, but as the framers intended: to assure that her qualifications extend beyond mere friendship with the president."
If Republican Senators take this advice seriously, as they surely already took note of betrayal felt among the rank and file, there is a very good chance that Miers nomination will not make it out of the Judiciary Committee. Sometimes you can just feel the ground--public opinion in this case--shift under your feet. This may be one of those times. I think Bush may be losing this mess that is his own creation. Charles Krauthammer doesnt want to wait until the hearings start. He says that this nomination is a retreat by Bush into "smallness" and asks Bush to withdraw it.
According to this Washington Post story, Democratic intellectuals William Galston and Elaine Kamarck have issued a report warning their party that moving to the left would be a disastrous electoral strategy.
The groups that were supposed to constitute the new Democratic majority in 2004 simply failed to materialize in sufficient number to overcome the right-center coalition of the Republican Party.
They note that GOP support is rising among hispanics, a group whom liberals had been counting on. Moreover, they claim that issues like health care and education, traditionally key cards for Democrats to play, have lost their power to win large numbers of votes. Finally:
On defense and social issues, "liberals espouse views diverging not only from those of other Democrats, but from Americans as a whole. To the extent that liberals now constitute both the largest bloc within the Democratic coalition and the public face of the party, Democratic candidates for national office will be running uphill."
"John Roberts only had to worry about, you know, the left," he said, referring to the recently confirmed chief justice. "She’s going to have to worry about the left and the right."
E. J. Dionne, Jr. is in high dudgeon, upset that the Bush Administration has made an issue of Miers’s evangelicalism but refused to let the Left make an issue of Roberts’s Catholicism. Hypocrisy, he says. That would be the pot calling the kettle black, as, by his lights, the Administration is taking his advice. Of course, Dionne is interested in religion because he assumes that it will influence a judge’s rulings. I have disagreed with this position before, as have people
much smarter than I am.
That said, the Bush Administration is taking a risk in calling attention to Miers’s church life, however much it indicates about her heart (which is what the Democrats said they wanted to know about Roberts). With nuances getting lost in the noise, it may serve to reinforce expectations on the Left and educate expectations among evangelicals that one’s faith does and should influence one’s Constitutional doctrine. Smart evangelicals have carefully avoided this implication thus far; I’d hate for the Bush Administration to undo the good work they’ve done as they rally the troops for this confirmation battle.
Update: Power Liner Paul Mirengoff has more thoughts on Dionnes column. I would beg to differ with him about the meaning of the "religious test" clause of the Constitution, which forbids only formal religious tests, not religiously-bigoted voting by Senators. Such bigotry may well be reprehensible, and provide grounds for political criticism, but its not thereby unconstitutional. Yes, the spirit of the Constitution discourages "private" bigotry, but it prohibits only the overt or public emblem of it, e.g., a formal legal requirement that one profess or repudiate a faith in order to be eligible for office. Mr. Mirengoffs position would lead to the kind of mind-reading attempted by the Court in its application of the infamous Lemon test.
Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
Willie Martin, Jr.
Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter October’s drawing.
Disregarding for the moment the fact that Michael McConnell is both an evangelical and an intellectual, this line of argument is not uninteresting. I will say that if the Bush Administration is going to mobilize evangelicals on Mierss behalf, they havent yet succeeded in doing so, at least down in the grass roots. My church friends (generally well-informed and generally well-educated) havent yet focused on the Miers nomination, and dont go googoo-eyed when they hear that shes an evangelical. Just an anecdote, I know....
On Wednesday, however, the Democrats mostly stood back as conservatives took aim at the selection of Ms. Miers.
Conservatives should remember that anything they say can and will be used against Miers in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The quote of the day belongs to John Thune:
Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said he, too, was nervous about Ms. Miers but also about a fight within his party. "I dont think that an intraparty battle is what we need," he said. "But I think before too long the left is going to go off on her, and that will effectively bring everybody together."
Will I ever write about anything else again?
Citing, among other things, this op-ed and having this NYT article in the back of his mind, Ken Masugi reminds us of the unavoidably political dimension of the fight to restore a constitutional judiciary.
Yes, I think that this fight could have been waged with another nominee sitting across from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that is not going to happen. Bush will not withdraw his nomination. What makes anyone--save for those on the Left--think that the defeat of Miers will produce a jurisprudentially more congenial replacement nominee? Consider this: if the Miers nomination timetable follows the conventional schedule, the Senate Judiciary Committee would likely vote in early December, with a Senate vote following in mid-December. If the nomination fails, the pressure on the President to name a filibuster-proof "consensus" nominee comes into play. After all, once we get into the new year, the impending fall elections start dominating the political scene. And if the Democrats think they can regain control of the Senate from a weakened Republican Party, they will likely do all they can to slow the process down. We could end up with a nominee the Post and the Times (not to mention the Harvard and Yale law faculties) will welcome as a "moderate."
Obviously, as well, should Republicans lose control of the Senate, the prospect for future attractive judicial nominees virtually disappears.
All this leads me to swallow my disappointment and stick with Miers at least through the hearings. There is no realistic prospect of a nominee I like better being produced by the process currently in train. And I am not at the moment convinced that anyone likely to be elected in 2008 will nominate men and women more faithful to the intentions of the Founders. If President Bushs judicial legacy is as important as people say (and I think it is), then we have to hope that he succeeds and help him along. The realistic alternative is, I think, far worse.
If folks are interested in my two cents, my essay on the Miers nomination has been posted by the Claremont Institute and is available here.
I bring to your attention a revealing comment from a reader (Brad Preston) on the Miers nomination. You can sense the frustration, and see the hope slipping away. Bush had better be right about her, and it would be in everyones interest if she revealed something of her virtues at the hearings (also see Knippenberg, just below):
"I agree with you that I don’t know enough about her qualifications to make a decision on her ability. However, I know why I am upset with Bush nominating her. As an employee of mine stated last week, he has been putting up with all the big government coming out of D.C. because he hoped that the Court would be turned around. Now we don’t know if that will happen or not. Miers may be a wonderful pick, but those of us out here in the boonies won’t know that for what, two or three years? The tax cuts are all temporary. We now have the Homeland Security Dept., McCain-Finegold, and Sarbanes-Oxley. Government spending is way up. Bush has done nothing to cut government. Not one veto. It is not clear to me that the court is any different in its composition than it was 6 months ago. As a conservative, what have I gained with this administration? Am I better off than I was in 2000? Yes. Will I be better off in 2009? I don’t know. The Supreme Court is the one thing that will outlast this administration, and I can’t see a big improvement. I don’t see how this will help the Republicans in the mid-term elections. We peons have been putting up with all the other stuff because we were going to get a better Court. It is not obvious that that has happened."
Many of us find ourselves wishing that the President had nominated someone other than Harriet Miers. But shes the nominee we have. What next?
Suppose, in the first place, that the combination of conservative discontent and (gleeful) liberal opposition is sufficient to defeat this nominee. Does this weaken or strengthen the Presidents hand with the next nomination? If it weakens his hand (as I think it will), those looking for a judge faithful to original intent are even worse off in the next round.
Suppose, secondly, that Miers is confirmed, but raked over the coals in the process. This, it seems to me, emboldens the Left in its opposition to Bushs future Appeals Court and Supreme Court nominees, and places the President on the defensive as he makes his nominations. This also is not an encouraging prospect.
Finally, there is the possibility, however remote, that Miers will exceed expectations in the hearings. I have no doubt but that, in the proverbial fair fight, Miers could hold her own, one on one, with almost anyone on the Senate Judiciary Committee (not a terribly high bar, to be sure). But if conservatives sit on their hands, the fight wont be fair. One can only hope that Miers is a quick study and that she has (and is open to) the same kinds of teachers and advisors that Clarence Thomas had as he prepared for his judicial career.
For what its worth, I think at the moment that the second scenario is most likely. Everything then would depend upon how the Left decides to oppose this nomination. They could put the Bush Administration on trial, question Mierss competence and credentials, or make an issue of her conservative evangelicalism. The third is probably a winner for the Bush Administration, or at least a loser for the Left; the first is a storm they could probably weather; the second represents the toughest challenge. My guess is that well see all three tacks.
President Bush seems to have put us in a difficult position. Redeeming it at this point seems to require conservative willingness to contribute to the constitutional education of Harriet Miers and then an effective defense of her nomination. Anyone want to sign onto this mission?
Powerline praises Haywards new book, Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, & the Making of Extraordinary Leaders: Plutarchian parallel lives, the peaks of human excellence, Aristotles statesmanship, and why self-education is what counts, etc.! Over the top praise? I dont know, but great copy for the dust jacket. Use it, Steve.
George Will is near vicious in his criticism of Bush, and the Miers nomination. Note this: "In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech." And this:
"It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the courts role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a presidents choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends."
"The wisdom of presumptive opposition to Mierss confirmation flows from the fact that constitutional reasoning is a talent -- a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyers career. The burden is on Miers to demonstrate such talents, and on senators to compel such a demonstration or reject the nomination."
If I was losing patience yesterday with what seemed to me to be ducking a fight, today I am losing patience with Conservative elites--including some of my dear friends here--who seem to be too quick to point out Ms. Miers’ lack of "credentials." A caller on Hugh Hewitt’s show today and a graduate of the University of Dayton’s law school, pointed out that all of this whining about her degree from a small law school in Texas is starting to sound to him like Conservative elitism. I agree. Since when do big name law degrees hold sway with us? We don’t know this woman’s mind. Bush says he does. He ought not to be held accountable for the sins of his father. I will be amazed if this woman is a Souter. Peter’s point that we don’t know anything about this woman other than that she is not Alice Batchelder, Mike McConnell, or Edith Jones, is exactly right. So we didn’t get way. Boo, hoo. If you want your way in judicial appointments, stick your neck out and run for President.
And finally, if we really want to pick a fight with someone, why not take it to the spineless Republicans in the Senate whose shameful behavior in the last year has given us this moment? One might ask WHY Bush feels the need to play politics right now instead of complaining about the fact that he does. The Senate is why. We all know the Senate is why. Voinovich and DeWine--Ohio’s two senators--are why. We need to do something about that before before we demand more of Bush. To do less is peevish and, worse, it hurts our cause. We will get another shot at it. The problem is that I think the people we most want to get the next nomination will be so tainted by the support of these childish rants that they won’t be taken seriously. Too bad.
We didnt have to wait all too terribly long before someone made an issue of Mierss putative religious convictions. Jeremy Richey calls our attention to this post by Paul Butler, a law professor at George Washington University.
Butler, who makes no bones about his allegiance to the Critical Legal Studies movement, doesnt object to legislating from the bench. Indeed, he cant imagine a judge who doesnt do so. As such, hes simply a frank or more extreme version of all the liberal activists (including some on the Senate Judiciary Committee) who seem to think that policymaking is something judges ought to be doing. Like the critics of Justice Sunday (remember that?), he cant admit the possibility tha a judge could separate his or her Constitutional and legal views from his or her religious and moral commitments. And like many on the Left, he harbors a cartoonish view of conservative evangelicalism. Butler has "profiled" Harriet Miers, having paid little or no attention either to the larger phenomenon of conservative evangelicalism or to Harriet Mierss role in her church and her interactions with others. If, indeed, "nothing shes asked to do in church is beneath her,", and if "she genuinely cares about people at every level--personally, professionally, socially", then Butlers "profile" is a poorly drawn caricature. I wish I were surprised by this.
The estimable Mr. Hayward, whose book is available on Amazon, and I have mentioned Harriet Miers’s religious affiliation. Over at Get Religion, Terry Mattingly has the goods, calling our attention to these articles and this helpful blog post.
Update: Terry Mattingly, who knows this turf as well as anyone, has collected and commented on all the leading Miers religion stories in one post. I cant at the moment do any better, and doubt that I could even under the best of circumstances
I was at first perplexed by the Miers nomination. Then, the more I listened to the MSM and conservatives commenting, even on NLT), the more angry I became, becoming persuaded that this was a very bad move on Dubya’s part. I wrote a peevish paragraph on it, re-read it an hour later, but realized that my anger didn’t mean anything. I didn’t know why I was angry at Bush. Do I care that this person has no judicial experience? Of course not. I think it would be fine to appoint non-lawyers to the Court. Does anyone think that Walter Berns, for example, would be a bad appointment? Is it a problem that she works for Bush and he has known her for years and he likes her and trusts her? Of course not. So what’s the problem? Well, I just happen to know Alice Batchelder better, and I have heard from friends who know McConnell that he is really great. Well, Bush disagrees with me and my friends. O.K., we don’t know anything about her jurisprudence. How could we? Well, let’s give her the opportunity of explaining herself to the Judiciary Committee. Perhaps the conservative members of the Committee (e.g., Brownback and Coburn) can press her a bit and ask her to make her jurisprudence clear. Perhaps she can do it as well as Roberts did. Was Roberts testimony entirely satisfying? Bush has asked us to take this nomination on faith. So we should, for now. Then let her reason in front of the Judiciary Committee support both our faith and Bush’s.
By the way, it may be prudent to give her a copy of Heritage Guide to the Constitution, which just rolled of the press this week (the official publication date is November 3). It is a line-by-line analysis of the Constitution and is edited by Matthew Spalding and David Forte, with (I’m guessing) about a hundred different contributors; almost all of them wothies.
I'll be speaking about the book at the Ashbrook Center on November 10. Hope to see you all there.
I missed this in the Post this morning.On the other hand, Randy Barnett has written a draft of the speech that more than a few folks on the Left and the Right might be tempted to give. Alexander Hamilton is invoked by both sides.
Update: Caleb Verbois (Comment #1) and Ken Masugi make the same point against Barnett, and in other respects are on much the same wavelength.
Could Miers be a half-in-the-closet evangelical? Jonah Goldberg wonders. . .
If this turns out to be true, it could change many things (though not everything, such as the absence of any meaningful judicial record. Couldnt she at least be on record about hapless toads??)
Heres a WaPo profile from June, when she was White House counsel. Here are two profiles from todays papers. Shes clearly enjoying a bit of a honeymoon in the press, perhaps in part facilitated by conservative discontent.
These analyses suggest a nomination made from political weakness, as if the President couldnt afford the "distraction" of a fight with Democrats over this nomination. If theres any "Rovian cleverness" at work here, its that conservative discontentment could make liberals more willing to embrace Miers. But my expectation remains that Senate Democrats and their interest group allies will not pass up the opportunity to revisit what they regard as embarrassments and/or hot buttons in the Bush Administrations record. Because Miers was in the White House the whole time, they can dredge everything up, not so much to defeat her (that would be a bonus) but to make as much political hay as they can. And the less they find in her personal record, the more they will take this other road.
After reading everything this morning, Im even more convinced that Miers will play reasonably well in red regions outside the Beltway: she looks like an evangelical social conservative and will have plenty of credible testimonials on her behalf. On this front, I wonder whether Democrats and their allies will fall for the temptation, as they did with Roberts, to make her religion an issue. They do so, I think, at their peril.
I am not eager to jump on the Conservative bandwagon of beating up on Bush over the Miers nomination. Neither am I ready to rush to his defense. But I will say this: while I understand and share the disappointment that is the natural result of gearing up for a fight that never happens--sometimes that IS the best course of action (even if the adrenaline is still stuck in your throat). I don’t know if this is one of those times but it could be it that is. Maybe Bush knows something we don’t--perhaps we could not have won the fight right now. It could be that Bush thought it was better to live to fight another day. He will likely get another go at this before 2008. It could also be that the gang of 14 and the other weak-willed GOP senators (2 of whom hail from Ohio, of course) were more problematic than we think. Perhaps Miers is a safe and solid pick. I agree with Eastman that we need to have it out over the true meaning of the Constitution and the role of the judiciary. I’m not sure if we need to have it out now--though I am getting impatient too.
Ken Masugi calls our attention to a series of posts by Marvin Olasky, the Texas-based editor of World magazine. According to Olaskys source, Miers is an active member of a conservative evangelical church, with views that match that general profile. This post on her "originalism" is helpful.
Im still keeping an open mind.
Unlike his boss, Barnes is sanguine. Thw Weekly Standard covers the conservative waterfront.
Harriet Miers is the Presidents pick to replace Justice Sandra Day OConnor. I do not know Ms. Miers. Few people do. She has no judicial record. Nothing in her background to demonstrate that she has a thorough understanding of the principles of the Constitution. Nothing, in short, to demonstrate that the President has fulfilled his campaign pledge to nominate people like Justices Scalia and Thomas who understand that the role of the courts is to interpret, not make, the law.
The President is therefore asking his conservative base to accept his judgment as an article of faith, and there is little doubt that she will be confirmed. Maybe Harriet Miers will prove in the fullness of time that faith to be well-founded. Maybe she will instead prove to be another David Souter. But whatever proves to be true, one thing is certain. By nominating a blank slate, the President has missed an opportunity to drive home in the political arena envisioned by the Constitution what has been wrong with the view, adopted by the Court over the past generation, that it is for the courts to decide all political controversies for us. "Trust me. Harriet Miers will vote the right way" is no answer to that problem, and it is a much more serious threat to our constitutional system of government than any particular decision.
Kos loves watching the meltdown on the Right. He probably recognizes that that Miers is the best imaginable nominee for his side--not a forty- or fiftysomething, not an influential originalist/textualist scholar or judge, not a McConnell, Luttig, Estrada, Batchelder, or Brown.
Im going to go out on a limb and predict that the hearings will focus on vain efforts to get her to articulate in detail a judicial philosophy and on efforts to tie her to every alleged Bush Administration misstep. The issue will be George W. Bush, and I wonder to what extent Republicans in the Senate will be enthusiastic about defending him.
Miers will likely be confirmed, with opponents citing a thin record and Bushs alleged cronyism as reasons for their negative votes. But, I repeat, the principal focus of the public debate will be the Bush Administration, with Mierss close ties to GWB as the point of entry.
Hugh Hewitt has now weighed in with a tepid endorsement of Miers. He rests his argument mostly on the thin reed that Miers will support executive power in the GWOT.
One other possibility arises that differs from the Machiavellian explanation floated below (which I dont believe for a minute): Bush somehow knows that Miers is solid, but her stealth candidacy, which seems to have disarmed the Left for at least this morning, gives Bush the image of having "broken" from his base (a low-grade Sister Souljah moment), which the media thinks is necessary to retrieve his standing with moderate voters. Of course, this kind of gesture never works, but the White House has had a terrible month.
David Frum singled out Miers as a possible SCOTUS pick way back in July, writing that while she is not ideological, she is "firmly pro-life." Wonder how he knows that? Maybe hell get a subpoena from the Judiciary Committee.
. . . some kind of double-topspin Machiavellian play to goad Democrats (and weak-kneed Republicans) into tanking a stealth nominee and then coming back with Luttig or Estrada or Janice Rogers Brown?
Harriet Miers? A quick perusal of the right side of the blogosphere finds reaction running from lack of enthusiasm to alarm and dismay. The success of Roberts shows that a smart conservative (Luttig, McConnell) will steamroll the liberals. A stealth nominee is a big step backward. Redstate notes that Miers has given serious campaign contributions to Democrats ($1,000 to Al Gore in 1988), but also to (fellow Texan) Phil Gramm.
The acid test will be the reaction of Hugh Hewitt, who hasnt posted yet from his early morning perch out of the left coast. The only way Miers can generate enthusiasm among conservatives is if she picks a big fight with liberals in her confirmation process. But picking public fights is not something this White House does, so dont hold your breath.
Update: It is Miers. I guess now that we have a "southwestern womans seat" on the Court. Im disappointed but will keep an open mind.
Lawrence Kudlow has many smart things to say about GWBs Gulf Coast rebuilding program. Among others, he downplays the significance of the cost and emphasizes, as I have before, the role of the market and personal responsibility in the plan.
But the most interesting observation concerns the international audience for Bushs proposals:
Bush knows, even if others have forgotten, that the terrorists are carefully watching the U.S. government’s response to the natural disasters in New Orleans, Houston, and elsewhere. Hurricanes are one thing, but a terrorist attack with biochemical weapons or a nuclear weapon would be far more devastating. Even another 9/11-type bombing episode from the air, ground, or sea could present more of a challenge than what we now face in the Gulf Coast. Bush knows this. He knows that the U.S. must rebuild the Gulf no matter what it takes because this effort might be a test run for something far worse.
Is $200 billion too high a price to pay to send a message to our terrorist enemies? I doubt it.
Mark Steyns latest rips the media for its coverage of the sufferings
brought by Katrina. A taste:
Think about that: Hurricane week was in large part a week of drivel, mostly the bizarre fantasies of New Orleans incompetent police chief but amplified hugely by a gullible media. Given everything we now know they got wrong in Louisiana, where they speak the language, how likely is it that the great blundering herd are getting it any more accurate in Iraq?