October 25, 2005

Harriet, Har-re-et, Hard-Hearted Harbinger of Incompetence

Iíd been meaning to do a post on the Miers nomination for awhile- but then Marshall Wittman (as quoted by Ryan Lizza in TNR) said exactly what I was thinking:

The Moose, as he likes to be called, is giddy about the conservative crack-up, and he thinks he has identified the fault line: "This is intra-conservative warfare between the faith-based conservatives and the reality-based conservatives." And, by "faith," he means not faith in God, but faith in Bush. In other words, the real split over Miers is between conservatives who worship Bush and those who worship conservatism. One camp believes in the infallibility of the president. The other camp believes the evidence before them. Fred Barnes and James Dobson are faith-based conservatives. Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer are reality-based conservatives. Hugh Hewitt is faith-based. Ramesh Ponnuru is reality-based.
I donít consider myself a conservative. But I do have a lot of respect for many voices on the right, especially those who are intelligent, argue in good faith, advance interesting ideas, and donít believe that absolute 100% fealty to presidential talking points is a requirement for citizenship. And it seems that just about all of the conservatives that I like (David Brooks, David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Jonah Goldberg, Ross Douthat, and the Weekly Standard folks) are against the nomination, and all the ones I donít (Limbaugh, Hannity, Bauer, Dobson, Newsmax, etc.) are for it.

(Hereís a litmus test: if youíre a conservative and you got the title of this post, I probably like you. If you didnít, I probably donít. Though it wasn't until after I wrote this post that I discovered I was hardly the first to make the joke.)

Make no mistake about it: leaving aside questions of ideology and of transparency: the nomination of Harriet Miers is completely, totally indefensible, simply because she is not in any way whatsoever qualified to be on the court. And the one and only argument that her defenders have in favor of the pick is no argument at all: ďI trust Bush.Ē The silver lining, I suppose, is that now that the Republican base has as much contempt for intellectual conservatives as it does for their liberal counterparts, the whole stupid talking point about ďliberal elitistsĒ may now become forever obsolete.

Not that the liberal side comes out of this looking much better. If the Senate Democrats were smart and/or principled, they would simply vote, en masse, against the nomination. With at least a few GOP votes, that would easily bork the nomination, leading Bush to pick a replacement. And thatís the rub- the Dems would much prefer a mediocrity like Miers on the bench than whatever strict constructionist/Federalist Society type would follow her.

So thatís the choice, Dems: Mediocre judge of undetermined politics, or strong judge of ultraconservative politics. Principle, or politics. Which will you choose?

Posted by Stephen Silver at October 25, 2005 07:23 PM

Your list of who is for Miers and who is against her needs some tweaking. Rush Limbaugh has clearly said he is "disappointed" by the pick and that it was made out of weakness in an effort to appease Bush's political opponents. He then wrote a piece for OpinionJournal.com justifying his (and other conservatives) opposition as a sign of the strength of the movement, not of a "crack-up". (It should be noted that David Limbaugh, Rush's brother, is a Miers supporter and actually engaged Professor Bainbridge in a "debate" about presidential prerogative and the Senate "advise and consent" role).

As for Gary Bauer, he is listed on the WithdrawMiers.org site as "deeply concerned".

Posted by: Benedict at October 26, 2005 08:27 AM

I love the title..as that is from one of my fave movies.
Anyways, I can't believe you like George Will. He is such a loser.
And as for harriet, it sounds like she is really a moderate and I think she should get her fair chance to get to the bench. I think there is a quite a bit of sexism, elitism and plain old political games going on.

Posted by: A at October 26, 2005 10:26 AM

I don't care if you were the first one to use it or not...the title's great, second only in my mind to "Donna Martin Separates." Good one, Steve.

Posted by: Esther at October 26, 2005 11:10 PM
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