On Harriet Miers And Elitism.

One word we’ve heard tossed around with regularity since Harriet Miers was nominated is, “elitist.” This word has been used by defenders of Miers against those who’ve pointed out the truth: that Harriet Miers is a minimally qualified crony who was selected for the job primarily because of her relationship with George Bush.

Left by the White House with no way to effectively rebut those charges — because they’re true — her supporters have been forced to cry, “snob,” and, “elitist,” in order to try to redirect attention. That’s why we keep hearing arguments that go about like so from the pro-Miers camp:

“These so-called anti-Miers conservatives are saying that they don’t like her because she’s an under qualified candidate with questionable conservative credentials who got the job because of personal favoritism, but that’s not it. Actually, they dislike her because they’re really snooty upper crust types who sneer with disdain at anyone who isn’t part of the whole Ivy League set. Why didn’t we all see it sooner?”

Unfortunately, there is a huge problem with that line of reasoning. The problem is that before Monday of last week, Harriet Miers had a fan club of one: George W. Bush.

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Back then, had you spoken to those who are today the most ardent defenders of Harriet Miers or her most vituperative conservative critics, not only would their top selections for the court have been almost exactly the same, they’d have also agreed that Harriet Miers would be a poor selection by the President for many of the same reasons that are today being espoused by her opponents. The only reason more people weren’t saying that publicly at the time (although some were pointing out that Miers would be a poor choice) was because she was such an obviously bad pick that very few people seriously thought Bush would nominate her.

So just to be perfectly clear, it’s the Miers’ boosters who have made a 180 degree turn from the now presumably elitist position of, “Oh God, not Miers,” to what some of them apparently believe is the position of the common man: “Thank God George Bush had the wisdom to select Harriet Miers instead of one of those hoity-toity, high falutin’ nominees like Michael Luttig, Priscilla Owen, or Michael McConnell.”

Wait…that’s not exactly true because it’s also worth noting that if you pin them down on the subject, most of the apostles of Miers will admit, even today, that they’d prefer the same candidates the “elitists” are touting, despite their support for Miers. What does that make them: closet elitists?

Everyone on the right, on both sides of the Miers debate, should be willing to admit the truth about this nomination. It’s a split that was caused by George Bush selecting a fourth rate candidate for the most important court in the land and then saying, “Trust me.”

The overwhelming majority of conservatives who are behind Miers today are taking that position either because they have an almost unshakable faith in the President or because they are willing to put loyalty to the Republican Party first. Those of us who want the Miers nomination to fail are just not willing to support a Supreme Court appointment based on little more than blind trust, especially since in the past, well meaning Republican Presidents have told us to, “trust them,” as they’ve given us John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter among others.

That is the essence of what this conservative dogfight is all about, not “elitism.”

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