Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why are conservatives angry at Bush?

Andy Busch speculates on why conservatives are so angry at the President for the Miers nomination. Abbreviated, he argues thus: First, President Bush has asked conservatives to trust him once too often and, second, Bush has not made the public arguments that are needed to build long-term majorities. Conservatives don’t want political victories on the cheap. In nominating Miers, Bush has lost another great opportunity at persuasion, and this may be seen as the final straw "of an administration pattern of simply not making the philosophical case for principles like federalism, limited government, or strict construction. Even when discussing judicial appointments, Bush has asserted the principles but rarely made the case for them. Though some of Reagan’s Supreme Court appointments may well be worse from a conservative standpoint than Miers will turn out to be, he also spent eight years of his presidency making the case for constitutionalism day in and day out. The GOP majority is built on the foundation laid by that effort twenty years ago. Conservatives anxiously ask where Bush’s disinclination to fight this fight will leave them twenty years from now."  

Discussions - 32 Comments

Peter, this is a very different situation than Reagan’s nominations. Consider that Kennedy was Reagan’s third nominee, and that he only chose him after (1) the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected Bork and (2) Ginsberg was brought down by scandal. Making what is your third choice, dealing with a hostile Senate that had already rejected a nominee who was well-qualified by any objective measure -- not an easy situation for a President to be in.

Bush, on the other hand, was in a great position. His party controls the Senate by an 11-vote margin, and John Roberts just coasted through even though half the Democrats voted against him solely for political reasons. Even if we limit his potential pool to only women, he had at least a half dozen choices that would have made it through the Senate with relative ease.... so he nominated his friend and personal lawyer. A person who has never been a judge and did not practice constitutional law. A person who spent most of her adult life as a Democrat and had her "awakening" around roughly the same time that she started seeking appointments from a Republican governor. A person who was head of the state bar association (since when did it become a good thing for Republican nominees to be leaders of left-leaning interest groups). A person who has publicly bad-mouthed the Federalist Society. A person who had a huge conflict of interest in the entire process because she was the one charged with evaluating other candidates.

Do I really need to spell this out for you?

What a thin bunch of crap. People stand fast in Iraq voting lines when they are potentially about to be blown to bits. It is because of the President Bush’s strength of character. I have been a conservative (practical) since the FDR administration. Bush is far a away the best president we have ever had (Yes including Reagan). You ideological conservatives are a royal pain in the ass. You help the left for no intelligent reason. Remember what the first great one said, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a republican". I could have said what I really feel, but you would not like it.

Why are we angry? In addition to the reasons OV listed, I would think the following are pretty important:

Calling us "sexist."

Calling us "elitist."

Lying about Priscilla Owen and other candidates who did not pull themselves out of the running.

Having that hack-disguised-as-journalist Brit Hume bad-mouth Alice Batchelder.

The speed with which the White House turned on conservatives is alarming. We should be angry.

Don’t forget that Reagan nominated O’Connor to fulfill his campaign promise to nominate the first woman to the Court; so, she very well may have been the best we could find.

Bush has no such excuse.

Add to that spending, immigration, campaign finance "reform", the list goes on and on. The simple fact is Bush is not a conservative and conservatives have invested too heavily in the Republicans. I am beginning to be a little surprised at Bush’s personality cult - those who seem to think he is a "man of character" (he is too some extant) and thus will follow him off the edge of the proverbial cliff. Perhaps this is what the left has been trying to speak too in their own perverted ways (and for their own perverted reasons). Still, I would like to see some thoughts on this...

The little people like me, who got Bush re-elected last year, expect some REPRESENTATION. We expect Bush to speak for us and fight for us. And we don’t see it. Harry Reid calls the President "a liar" and "a loser," and Bush shows more concern for Reid’s opinion than for ours. It is not a stretch to wonder whether Bush even cares about the Movement or its ideals.

Hey, maybe you’d feel better about this nomination if the White House set up a live, completely unscripted, "back-and-forth" chat via satellite tv between the President and Justices Thomas and Scalia. If those two tell you everything’s ok, you’d trust them, right?


This is what I am talking about when I suggest that our problem is Bush’s personality cult. Instead of seeing the conservative point of view, namely that Mier’s is a cipher, you seem to think that the objects of our idealization are Thomas and Scalia. Mr. Thomas and Scalia would not "tell (us) everything’s ok" because they do not know any more about her than we do. We do not implicitly trust Thomas and Scalia - we do however have real data about them. They are originalists and conservative judges. Thus, we can make an informed decision about them based on their past behavior and reasoning’s. Do you see the difference?

Ok, I guess my reference to Bush’s recent video-teleconference -with some cherry-picked soldiers who were instructed on exactly what to say and when- went right past ya. I thought it was pretty obvious that’s what I was referring to. Perhaps I should have provided a link to the story. My guess is that Fox News either didn’t cover it or they simply said that "In today’s videoconference with the troops, President Bush learned that all true Iraqis love America and that troop morale seems to be at an all-time high!" Anyway, the idea was that Thomas and Scalia would be saying what they were told to say, not giving their own, honest assessments.

Cheney was on Fox News last night and bent over backward to avoid answering whether or not he opposed nominating Miers. If the rumor were not true, the simple answer would have been "no, I didn’t oppose her" or "I have always thought she was qualified."

The fact that even the Vice President did not support nominating her, combined with his rather half-hearted defense after the fact, both speak volumes about this candidate.

Ok, I guess my reference to Bush’s recent video-teleconference -with some cherry-picked soldiers who were instructed on exactly what to say and when- went right past ya. I thought it was pretty obvious that’s what I was referring to.

Yeah, I thought that whole staged videoconference was pretty annoying. (And FYI, I heard about it on Fox News.) Let’s face it, if Bill Clinton had done that we would’ve been all over him.

I think this goes back to something that a lot of us have suspected for a long time--the president doesn’t like having people around him who tell him things he doesn’t like to hear.

I think it’s possible that Bush has grown stubborn and querulous given the years of hounding by the Left and the "international community." Maybe he’s just lost it...let’s hope temporarily. If he thinks he’ll have a legacy without his base he really has lost it. He needs to remember that lots of us have been hanging in there with him...defending him, working for him, standing in line to vote for him. This is not the time to lash out or insist on personal prerogative. Actually becoming the caricature painted of him by the Left is completely inappropriate at this juncture. Someone needs to tell him that.

Dain, people have been trying to tell him that for two weeks. Too bad we are all sexist and elitist cynics, or else he might bother to listen to the concerns of us peasants.

You guys shouldn’t expect Bush to care. He’s happy to brush off protests of hundreds of thousands of people (just in the U.S.) as nothing more than "focus groups," and his nomination of Bolton was likewise a dismissal of the dreaded "international community." I don’t think that the "base" of which you speak hardly consists of every person who voted for Bush (and let’s remember THAT was only 51% of the less than 60% of eligible Americans who voted). If the views that are predominant at this blog represent Bush’s political base, then I’d bet his base is a pretty small percentage of the electorate, and likely a good bit less than half of even those who voted for him. See if you can get 300,000 or so of Bush’s alleged base to go protest Miers’ nomination, and see if he gives you more than a shoulder shrug.

Frank, his base consists of about a third of the electorate. That’s been very should do some reading (if you aren’t too busy rubbing your hands together in glee over this situation).

No glee so far - trust me. I’d love to do some reading about how Bush’s base is a third of the electorate. Could you suggest any specific resources?

Don’t forget that Miers is a slumlord.

“The year Harriet Miers began work as a senior presidential aide in the White House, the city of Dallas slapped three liens in three months on a property she controls in a low-income minority Dallas neighborhood, records show.”

“… the city has issued seven other liens on vacant lots that Miers controls in the same area around Tipton Park.”

“But the failure of Miers, a former Dallas City Council member, to comply with city law and her slow response in reimbursing the city run counter to her image as a meticulous, detail-oriented attorney who is always well prepared.”

This is who the President chose instead of McConnell, Jones, Brown, Owen, and Luttig? Pathetic, but exactly the kind of person you should expect when you charge someone with finding the best lawyer in the country and she chooses herself.

I’m struck with the alleged superiority of Reagan’s making bad appointments while making the case for conservative justices, and Bush’s making better appointments but not making the case for them. This amounts to the superiority of good intentions over results. That’s no more valid for conservatives’ political action that for liberals’. Now the reason for the backsliding of previous conservative justices is precisely because the mantra they recite (and, I admit, Reagan and George W. Bush too) about everything except ensuring that the Constitution is understood in the light of the natural rights principles that gave birth to it, is both a losing strategy and a poor teacher. We are like Charlie Brown who keeps believing that Lucy will not remove the football the instant he runs up to kick it. Conservative fuming over the Hiers nomination (with some exceptions, of course) is almost in direct proportion to the shallowness of the case being made for appointing conservative justices. I’ll not try to defend the White House from taking the too-defensive tactic of sexism or elitism, but the provocation was great from people who were of the opinion that they alone knew whom the President should appoint. In brief, they were impolitic in the manner of their criticism and should not be surprised that the President responded in kind. Conservatives are the only group in the country, after all, who the President can avoid the wrath of the media and the "elite corps of impudent snobs" by criticizing. Allo this shows that family fights are sometimes nastier than all the other kinds as the actions of both sides of it show in this case.

I’m struck by the ’pouting’ tone of so many opponents to the Miers nomination.W has to live in a practical world, no matter how much some would like to fight it out on ideology."

In that practical world, the numbers he has to be concerned with are "40" and "50", as in "the number required to sustain a filibuster" and "the number required to sustain the nuclear option.

Too many people assume he’d have the 50 for anyone he nominated. Indeed, some will make just that assumption in reply to this post.You shouldn’t because you can’t know. I suspect the only folks who know for sure are Frist & his leadership, Reid & his leadership and the White House.

You say "We should have this fight, we’d win."

Once again, you’re assuming.

You say "Even if we lost, the Democrats would come out looking worse."

Once again, you’re assuming - and with all due respect, I think you’re really hoping & wishing.

If Arlen doesn’t like the nominee, he can rig the hearings to make the nominee look bad. He wouldn’t get criticism from the pressies if he did it.

Likewise, if the Dems filibustered, there wouldn’t be any negative coverage from the MSM - they’d be presented as defenders of our civil liberties and the nominee as worse than Bork.

The idea that RINO’s would support a nominee who got beat up like that, either on a vote to end the filibuster or a vote to confirm, is a wish. Maybe it’ll be granted, but no one should count on it.

And if ultimately lost, especially with Republicans breaking rank & voting "No", the only ’lesson’ that would be learned is that strict constitutionalism is outside the pale of reasonable constitutional interpretation.

You assume there are 50 Senators willing to carry water for an originalist nominee. That is a HUGE assumption; if it were true, there would be no "Gang of 14" because they would’ve taken the first step toward doing just that & broken the filibuster of the appellate court nominees earlier this year.

I’m not saying "I like it this way" because I don’t. Shoot, I’d love to see Robert Bork, albeit a 55 year old Robert Bork, nominated & confirmed. That would be my PREFERENCE.

But we couldn’t get Bork confirmed, and if we nominated him, we’d likely set back the cause of getting confirmed constitutional originalists nominated & confirmed. We can’t allow that to happen.

You can’t always have your way. Don’t forget how much you all respect "resolve." And GWB certainly has it for Miers. She’ll be confirmed and live happily ever after with David Souter.

J Montgomery ,

Yep, it did go right past me! I did not hear about this little event until this weekend..

HDT: Thanks for bringing up Bush’s resolve. Mr. Knippenberg has specifically pointed out, regarding Bush, that "he is steadfast in his resolve." Steadfast!!!!!!

I just about cannot wait unti Judge Miers is in there and to see the looks on all your faces when you realize that she is no judge Sauter. Then you all can apologize to President Bush if not to me as well for the true rubish that you all have been spouting about the man you voted into office. Yes Chris L he is steadfast and thats what I love about him though I don’t know if your just being a smart alek or what.

OH and as for you J Montgomry you can stuff it. I know your being a wiseacher with your cracks about President Bushes conference with the troops but surely you can tell that while yes they may have been coached somewhat they were speaking from the heart. And Paul Riehrkof is a real backstabbing ex soldier who just tries to get alot of attention similar to waht that toad Michael Moore does. So yes I think I won’t take anything he says very seriously thank you very much.

Dain: You made a claim in your post #15. Will you be backing up that claim any time soon?

Fat Mike: your hero GWB may be a lot of things, but steadfast isn’t one of them. Steadfast guys don’t go AWOL when they’re serving their country.

WEll thats just fine and dandy HDT. HOw quickly you will turn on President Bush even though he is the best President this country has had in many many years. So what he didn’t serve in Vietnam and now your going to say that has something to do with the nomination of Judge Miers. Well I trully fail to see how that has anything to do with the current situation. All’s I know is that he is steadfast when it counts... when he is leading this great nation. Yes I suspect there will be great heaping servings of Humble Pie served up when you so-called conservatives realize that Judge Miers is the best thing to happen to the Sumpreme Court and to this nation. Good day.

So opposing rank nepotism makes us "so-called conservatives"? Shouldn’t your slander apply to the people (like you) who have put partisan party politics ahead of ideology?

Hey T-boz, I think you mean libel. Fat Mike would have to be speaking in order for it to be called slander. Although I could definitely see Fat Mike reading aloud as he bangs out his little rants.

We’ll just sit here and chirp while Dain avoids backing up his claim in comment #15.... chirp.... chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp.... chirp....chirp.... chirp.... chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp....chirp....

Oh, that? Why bother? You let me know when his approval slips below 30%...that alone would prove me wrong.

And, it’s funny...a whole group of you (or maybe just one of you with multiple personalities) has become my own personal accounting system. I guess I could play you folks like a fiddle if I’d a mind to. Then again, what a bore.

"I guess I could play you folks like a fiddle if I’d a mind to." Yes indeed, Dain is a very, very powerful man.

No, MES, that’s the funny’s not that I’m powerful, it’s that you people (i.e., LEFTISTS) are so weak-minded and easily led. All one has to do is a kind of intellectual jujitsu using the weight of Leftist anger and fear of being wrong...simple, really.

But you have my permission to obsess over my every post...I realize your lives must be exceedingly narrow. Whatever brightens your sad, lonely lives...that’s fine with me.

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