Stopping Miers: Is It Possible?

There are theoretically three possible ways a Harriet Miers nomination could be stopped:

1) The Filibuster: Unless Miers has some deep, dark secret that comes to light (I.E. She tortures puppies for fun or she has killed and buried a half dozen people in her backyard), the chances of the Dems trying a filibuster are essentially zero and the Republicans wouldn’t even consider one given that they’ve spent the last few years claiming it’s unconstitutional.

2) Losing a Vote on the Senate Floor: Again, unless some sort of scandal comes to light, this is highly unlikely.

Given the situation the Democrats were in, the nomination of Harriet Miers was a godsend. With only 45 votes, the Democrats couldn’t have blocked any Republican nominee. Moreover, the GOP looked likely to have the votes needed for the nuclear option which meant that a filibuster would have been doomed to failure. So the Democrats couldn’t have accomplished much more than doing a little fund raising by gnashing their teeth about the nominee.

But with Miers, the entire equation changes. They can still use her for fund raising, but now they can also hurt the GOP’s standing with moderates by credibly tarring Miers as an unqualified crony who’s being promoted by Bush. Furthermore, this pick has been so poorly received on the right that it will actually hurt the entire Republican Party.

So while the Dems will make a lot of noise about Miers, the insiders understand that this is as good as it gets. For them to cooperate with Republicans to try to torpedo her nomination would be a big political mistake. My guess is that in the end, the Democrats would rather just take their winnings on the issue and call it a day.

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans are caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they placate Bush and the Republican establishment by voting for Miers or do they choose to do the right thing by voting against a 4th tier candidate being handed a patronage job on the Supreme Court? History suggests the former is more likely.

3) Withdrawing the Nomination: This is still a longshot, but it’s the best chance conservatives have to stop Miers.

Undoubtedly, Bush and the RNC are aware of the firestorm of criticism they’ve set off on the right with the Miers nomination. Unfortunately, even if the base keeps hammering away, it probably won’t be enough to convince Bush to pull her card.

What will need to happen is that a block of GOP Senators — the bigger, the better — will need to get together, go to Bush, and make the case that the Party will take too big of a hit in 2006 if Miers goes through. Then they can let Bush know that unless he withdraws Miers, they’re going to publicly come out against her confirmation.

Of course, Bush may refuse to see reason even then, but if let’s say there were 10 GOP Senators willing to go to the wall to stop Miers, it would have to give the White House serious pause.

Now, who’s going to be the first Republican Senator with the courage to publicly challenge the White House on the Harriet Miers nomination?

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