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?