by John Hawkins | October 6, 2005 10:27 am
1) Opponents of Miers have said she’s not qualified to be on the Surpeme Court. That’s not true! Agreed. Harriet Miers is qualified to be on the Supreme Court.
That being said, she doesn’t even come close to being the most qualified candidate. Nor could she be said to be a top tier candidate. In fact, if most of Miers’ defenders were being completely honest, they’d admit she’s not even a well qualified candidate. Instead, she is a minimally qualified candidate with credentials that are probably no better and no worse than those of hundreds of other lawyers. But, unlike those other lawyers, Harriet Miers is friends with George Bush, who obviously values friendship and loyalty more than finding the best person for the job.
If you don’t believe that, ask yourself if Miers would have been one of the top 25, or even the top 50 candidates being considered if, let’s say, George Allen, Sam Brownback, or even — God help us — John McCain were President. Face facts: she wouldn’t have even been considered for the job if she weren’t a FOB (friend of Bush).
That’s not to say Harriet Miers is a talentless hack. She has probably accomplished more than 98% of the people in this country during her lifetime. Yet and still, to say she’s not in the same ballpark qualifications-wise as candidates like Michael W. McConnell and Michael Luttig is an understatement. Not only is she not in the same ballpark, she’s not in the same city, the same state, or even the same country. It’s like she’s on a boat somewhere heading towards the country. This is why so many people are disparaging her qualifications. It’s because she is such a lightweight compared to the other people who were rumored to be in consideration.
Angry Miers’ defenders have charged people who have pointed out these very obvious facts with elitism and snobbery. But, if believing that a Supreme Court nominee should be selected based on merit instead of cronyism now means you’re a snobby elitist, then…wait a second, it doesn’t mean that at all. This isn’t about elitism, it’s about getting a top-of-the line candidate for the most important job in America behind the Presidency and Miers just isn’t up to snuff.
2) Miers will probably be easily confirmed. Yes, she probably will be easily confirmed if President Bush does not withdraw her nomination. But, given that there are 55 Republicans in the Senate and likely, enough votes this time around for the nuclear option, any nominee Bush sent to the Senate would have been highly likely to be confirmed.
For example, take Janice Rogers Brown, who was generally thought to be the most controversial candidate under consideration (other than perhaps Alberto Gonzales). Brown was just confirmed in June of this year with 56 votes. Every single Republican and Democrat Ben Nelson all voted for her. The idea that 6 Republicans who just gave her the thumbs up would turn around and go against her is ludicrous.
Furthermore, since at least 3 members of the GOP side of the “Gang of 14,” Graham, DeWine, and McCain, have all as good as said they would vote for the nuclear option if the Democrats tried to block a GOP SCOTUS nominee over ideology, a Democratic filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee was highly unlikely because it would have led to the nuclear option.
So instead of getting a stellar nominee, we’re getting a mediocre nominee because of — what? She’ll be confirmed with 80 votes instead of 55? Whether a nominee is confirmed with 51 votes or 100 makes absolutely no difference as long as he/she’s confirmed.
3) A lot of conservatives are just spoiling for an unnecessary fight with the Democrats and that’s why they don’t like the nomination. It is true that there are a few conservatives who would have relished a savage fight over the nomination. However, it’s also true that George Bush has apparently been so intimidated by Harry Reid and Company that he’d prefer to fight with his own base over a 4th rate candidate than take on the Democrats.
While picking a fight with Democrats shouldn’t be the primary reason you select a justice, it also isn’t a reason to shy away from picking a top notch nominee either. If Bush doesn’t have the guts to go toe to toe with the Democrats on something as important as this, even when he has 55 Republicans in the Senate, it makes you wonder if he has completely lost his nerve. These Supreme Court appointments are 2nd in importance only to the war on terror and appeasing the Democrats in order to avoid a big fight is the wrong way to go.
4) Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian. **wink wink** She also went to some pro-life dinners. **nudge nudge** I think we know what that means *** cough cough — she’ll strike down Roe v. Wade — cough cough ** don’t we?
The way Harriet Miers’ Christianity is being used as a primary selling point for her nomination is reminiscent of how John Kerry kept incessantly reminding everyone that he fought in Vietnam. It was great that Kerry fought in Vietnam and it’s fantastic that Harriet Miers is said to be a devout Evangelical Christian. But, the fact that Miers goes to church is being touted so heavily tells you that she doesn’t have much else going for her.
Moreover, have conservatives not ripped liberal judges up one side and down the other for letting their personal beliefs dictate their rulings? Since that’s the case, isn’t it hypocritical for conservatives to hope that Harriet Miers will overturn Roe v. Wade because she’s personally against abortion? Roe v. Wade should be overturned because the Constitution doesn’t address abortion, not because of the religious beliefs of a judge.
But, since Roe v. Wade is an emotional issue for a lot of conservatives, let’s set that aside for just a moment. How will Miers’ Christianity impact other key rulings? For example, what’s the “biblical position” Christians should take on Kelo v. New London? What about Grutter v. Bollinger? Griswold vs. Connecticut? Oh, yeah, there is no “biblical position” on those cases and even if there were, it would be wrong for Miers to let her religious beliefs affect her decisions.
So why is the fact that Miers is religious supposed to be such a significant part of her appeal? Truthfully, it really shouldn’t make much of a difference.
5) You shouldn’t rip into the President on this nomination. It might hurt us in 2006 if you do.
President Bush knew how important this nomination was to the grass roots. And if I could predict beforehand that choosing Miers would be a “calamitous error” politically, then certainly the Bush Administration must have known it as well.
Yet, Bush still chose to select Miers and predictably, it’s damaging the Party.
For those of us who oppose Miers to “put on a brave face” would, in my opinion, be exactly the sort of credibility-draining mistake that so many Democrats made during the Clinton years. That’s not to say we shouldn’t circle the wagons and defend “our guys” when they deserve it, but when the President of the United States makes a mistake of this magnitude, he needs to be called on it in the strongest of terms even if it exacerbates the political damage.
Even if it turns out that Miers can’t be stopped, there are some political hills worth figuratively dying on, if necessary, and this is one of them.
6) You should just trust the President’s judgement. He knows best and if he says Miers will be fine, that’s good enough for me.
First of all, Republican Presidents have been notoriously bad at choosing Supreme Court nominees. Out of the 9 justices currently on the court, 7 of them have been appointed by Republicans. Out of that batch of judges we have:
1 brand new judge: Roberts
2 conservative judges: Scalia & Thomas.
2 “moderate” judges: Kennedy & O’Connor.
2 liberal judges: Souter & Stevens
Because well meaning Republican Presidents have picked so many duds in the past, most conservative court watchers figure: the longer the track record, the better. That’s part of the reason why Miers is setting off so many alarms. You can trot out her friends and members of the Bush administration all day long to talk about what an originalist she’ll be, but this is not something that can just be taken on faith after conservatives have been burned so many times in the past.
Also, it’s worth adding that George Bush has many fine qualities, but being a good judge of people is not one of them. Remember when he partnered up with Ted Kennedy to promote “No Child Left Behind” and then Kennedy turned around and slammed him? Over and over and over and over again? How about helping to rehabilitate Bill Clinton’s image by sending him out on these high profile fund raising trips with his dad? That really gave Clinton a lot more credibility when he unsurprisingly turned on the President and publicly ripped him on everything from Katrina to Iraq. How about Bush’s friend and adviser Doug Wead who secretly recorded private conversations with W. and then played the tapes for the press? Was that really a guy Bush should have had as an adviser? Then there was the time Bush looked into Putin’s soul and decided he could trust him. That’s the same Putin who we believe is helping Iran build nuclear weapons right now.
After all that, “trust me,” just isn’t going to cut it.
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