Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Bottom Line Question

I guess the real question is: How could Bush have not seen what an atrociously bad idea it was to pick someone who would cause the Left, his strongest supporters, everyone, to say, "What the hell?" Is there some sort of congenital clueless gene in the Bush line? How could this man have fomented potential disaster rather than going for the jugular with an out-of-the-park pick that would have fired up the base and stuck it to the Socialist/Traitor Party? Instead, his supporters are stuck trying to play some kind of guessing game. This is just nuts. And pathetic. Maybe the fix really is in.

Anyway, the above pessimistic paragraph was inspired by this David Frum piece. I'm having a harder and harder time seeing any clothes on Emperor Bush.

See also this RightWingNews piece (excerpt below). And this one.


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.

John Hawkins also had this to say yesterday:

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.

All this assumes, of course, that Bush is primarily interested in a victorious conservatism. Maybe that's too big an assumption?

Lileks waxes amusing about all of this.

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