by John Hawkins | October 25, 2005 8:29 am
Of course, it goes without saying that there’s no way to definitively know whether the nomination of Harriet Miers is going to be withdrawn. However, there are now some signs that the Harriet Miers debacle may be drawing to a close.
First off, there was a story in the Washington Times this week-end that suggested the White House was preparing an exit strategy:
The White House has begun making contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers as President Bush’s choice to fill a seat on the Supreme Court, conservative sources said yesterday.
“White House senior staff are starting to ask outside people, saying, ‘We’re not discussing pulling out her nomination, but if we were to, do you have any advice as to how we should do it?’ ” a conservative Republican with ties to the White House told The Washington Times yesterday.
The White House denied making such calls.
“Absolutely not true,” White House spokesman Trent Duffy said.
But a conservative political consultant with ties to the White House said that he had received such a query from Sara Taylor, director of the Office of White House Political Affairs.
Miss Taylor denied making any such calls.
A second Republican, who is the leader of a conservative interest group and has ties to the White House, confirmed that the White House is making calls to a select group of conservative activists who are not employed by the government.
The White House is denying the story, but the Washington Times is a conservative newspaper with solid sources on the right and if they say they have two people saying the White House is asking about a withdrawal strategy, it’s probably true.
Then there was this story from RedState, a blog that has multiple sources that have been closely involved with the selection of Supreme Court nominees:
“RedState is able to report this morning that, very quietly, certain third parties have begun going back through the list of potential judicial nominees at the behest of the White House. Sources tell RedState that while the White House intends to make a public display of moving the Miers nomination forward, the reality of the situation has been conveyed to the President — namely that it is increasingly likely that Harriet Miers will meet a bipartisan effort to block her nomination.
As a result of growing chatter about the nomination, the White House is, as the Washington Times reported, trying to develop an exit strategy. At the same time, the White House does not want to withdraw the nomination without having a replacement close by.”
This rings true, for two reasons: first of all there was this Q&A with the President yesterday:
“Q Mr. President, as a newspaper reported on Saturday, is the White House working on a contingency plan for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers’ nomination?
THE PRESIDENT: Harriet Miers is — is an extraordinary woman. She was a legal pioneer in Texas. She was ranked one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States on a consistent basis. She is — look, I understand that people want to know more about her, and that’s the way the process should work.
Recently, requests, however, have been made by Democrats and Republicans about paperwork and — out of this White House that would make it impossible for me and other Presidents to be able to make sound decisions. They may ask for paperwork about the decision-making process, what her recommendations were, and that would breach very important confidentiality. And it’s a red line I’m not willing to cross. People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people being able to walk into the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, here’s my advice to you, here’s what I think is important. And that’s not only important for this President, it’s important for future Presidents.
Harriet Miers is a fine person, and I expect her to have a good, fair hearing on Capitol Hill.”
Notice that Bush didn’t deny that she’d be withdrawn, he didn’t testily say she’d be confirmed again, he just gave a non-answer and said he expected her “to have a good, fair hearing on Capitol Hill.”
The other significant thing is the dog that didn’t bark yesterday.
Last week, the White House rolled out a group of Texas judges to talk up Harriet Miers qualifications. Granted, they didn’t get anywhere, but at least they tried.
This week? There was no big roll-out, the RNC didn’t even bother to send out a Pro-Miers press release yesterday, and as far as I can tell, there was no serious attempt to rebut the damaging charges that came out over the week-end (that Miers supports gender and racial set asides and was involved in a questionable land payout). Given that the Miers nomination is still being ferociously hammered, you’d expect the White House to still be trying something, anything right now — unless — they’re planning to give up the fight.
Now, don’t take this to the bank yet, it’s not over until it’s over. Heck, I think it’s about to be over and I already have a big anti-Miers piece written for tomorrow. But, if we’re lucky, we may be seeing the beginning of the end for the Miers nomination. Cross your fingers…
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