One of the things a lot of people are starting to wonder about at this point is: Why was Harriet selected for the Supreme Court when there were so many better qualified candidates?
It’s a given that Bush could get enough votes for any of his nominees to get them confirmed. However, many people are speculating that Bush nominated Miers because he didn’t think any of the top notch candidates could make it through without getting filibusters. Don’t believe it.
Last time around, even before Bush selected Roberts, McCain, Graham, and DeWine basically said they’d vote for the nuclear option if the Democrats filibustered over ideology. Chaffee has a tough primary challenge this time that would make it extraordinarily difficult politically for him to vote against the nuclear option. Some people have speculated that Specter might not vote for the nuclear option this time, but that would cost him his Judiciary Chairmanship and given how desperately he begged for the job over fierce conservative opposition, it seems unlikely that he’d throw it away now by siding with the Democrats on a Bush SCOTUS appointment.
So, if Bush had the votes for the nuclear option, why not nominate a stellar nominee?
Here’s my theory: the Democrats took a lot of heat from their base for being too soft on Roberts. So, it’s likely that Harry Reid played hard ball. He probably went to Bush and said either you take a third rate and/or liberal candidate whom we find acceptable or we filibuster. But, what difference would it make if the Democrats filibustered if the GOP had the votes for the nuclear option?
That’s just it: I don’t believe George Bush nominated Harriet Miers because he thought he couldn’t get his nominee through. To the contrary, I believe George Bush nominated Harriet Miers because he feared the consequences of winning with a better nominee. The Democrats have openly threatened to shut down the Senate if the nuclear option is used. It is entirely possible that George Bush was so concerned about having his agenda sidetracked for a few months and being portrayed as a, “Divider, Not a Uniter,” by pouting Democrats, that he caved and decided it would be better to stick it to his own base than take on the Dems.
There’s no way to know for sure at this point, but it seems quite likely that George Bush and Harry Reid got into a staring contest and it was Bush who blinked with the Miers nomination.