Why Pulling The Harriet Miers Nomination Would Be The Best Move Bush Could Make

by John Hawkins | October 5, 2005 7:02 pm

I’m a big fan of Jack Kelly over at Irish Pennants[1], but I don’t see eye to eye with him on the Miers nomination.

That’s not to say Jack is a fan of Harriet Miers. He has openly said he was “unhappy” about the pick and he added this tidbit yesterday:

“At his news conference today, President Bush said Harriet Miers was the most qualified person in the country to be on the Supreme Court. This statement is so obviously and breathtakingly at odds with reality that it makes it hard for people to “trust us,” as Vice President Cheney urged Rush Limbaugh’s audience yesterday.”

However, I strongly disagree with Jack when he says:

“I think Bush made a huge political mistake by wanting to avoid a fight over a Supreme Court nominee, when a fight is just what was needed to revive the Republican base. Instead, by nominating Harriet Miers, he’s demoralized it. This could have catastrophic consequences in the midterm elections.

But conservatives like John Hawkins, who want to try to block Miers’ confirmation, would guarantee this distressing result. If Miers is rejected — especially by Republican votes — then Bush is a lame duck, and that will have dismal consequences across the board.

The best thing we can hope for is the Miers will be confirmed by Thanksgiving, and then vote with Thomas and Scalia. I also think this is the most likely outcome.”

I strongly disagree. The best thing that we can hope for is that Bush will withdraw the Miers nomination. Why do I say that?

Look at it like this: Miers is a 4th tier toady with dubious conservative credentials and anyone who doesn’t know it yet will find out about it as people who are normally George Bush’s strongest supporters relentlessly hammer away at her.

Given that, do you really think the GOP would benefit if a monument to cronyism like Harriet Miers gets a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court? Even if she turns out to be up to the job, which is by the way an enormous “if,” it’ll take years for her to prove she has what it takes.

Just imagine the bad taste that would leave in everybody’s mouths and the damage that would be done to the party in the 2006 elections. How many checkbooks will be closed to Republican candidates because of Harriet Miers? How many volunteers just won’t bother to help next time around? How many conservatives would cast protest votes for the Libertarian and Constitution parties? Just how many Senate seats would this cost us?

It’s not a pretty picture, is it?

Now, let’s imagine a different scenario. A scenario where George Bush withdraws the nomination of Harriet Miers or she is voted down in the Senate. Certainly, that wouldn’t be a positive. But, how much would it really hurt him? I seem to remember a very popular President by the name of Ronald Reagan who ended up having to go with his third pick for a Supreme Court Justice because his first pick (Bork) lost a vote and his second pick (Ginsburg) withdrew. Again, it may not have been a positive, but it also didn’t seem to hurt him very much.

Now, let’s imagine that Bush asks Harriet Miers to fall on the sword because of conservative opposition. After that, he gives a press conference, tells everyone that Harriet would have been fantastic, but unfortunately her nomination has been withdrawn. Then, a couple of weeks later, he nominates Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, Michael Luttig, Samuel Alito or some other justice who sets conservative hearts aflutter.

What do you think would happen?

Wouldn’t the very same people who are ripping Bush up one side and down the other today, be cheering him then? Wouldn’t many of those same people, after seeing Bush prove himself by taking a top notch choice, start to trust his judgement a little more? Don’t you also think those people would be considerably more forgiving towards Bush and the GOP if, in the end, they got a nominee they could love for the Supreme Court?

That’s what Republicans should keep in mind: this can still be a win for conservatives, a win for Bush, and a win for the Party if a nominee other than Miers is selected.

Given that this situation can still be turned into a win for the GOP, albeit a messy one, how much sense does it make for George Bush to pigheadedly try to win a Pyrrhic victory over his own base when he could have them marching by his side into battle for another nominee? It doesn’t make any sense, which is why George Bush should do the right thing, the smart thing, the politically savvy thing, and pull the Harriet Miers nomination.

  1. Irish Pennants: http://www.irishpennants.com/archives/2005/10/at_his_news_con.php

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