Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Goldberg On Miers



Among conservatives there are several competing - and sometimes overlapping - theories as to why Bush settled on Miers.

-He had no choice. He's weakened by Katrina, Iraq and the polls, and he can't afford Armageddon in the Senate. A stealthy, female nominee who was all but pre-approved by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is the prudent step at this time. In other words, she's confirmable, and at the end of the day the one indispensable qualification for any nominee is that they can actually make it to the bench.

-She's a crony. This isn't really a theory so much as an observation. She meets the dictionary definition of a crony: a longtime personal friend. She was Bush's personal attorney and in the White House she was his trusted gatekeeper. Bush prizes loyalty above most other considerations and has a long history of picking loyalists above more credentialed outsiders. Bush knows her "heart" and trusts that she reflects his views.

-She's a woman. Again, this is no theory either. But Mrs. Bush has stated that she thinks there should be another woman on the court, and many moderate Republicans and Democrats - including Senate Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter - have indicated that they'd be inclined to vote for a woman.

-She's an evangelical Christian who's been a member of the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas for 25 years. Marvin Olasky and James Dobson, two leaders of the conservative evangelical community, came out early to endorse her. Not only does this suggest that they believe she's a cultural conservative with settled views similar to the president's about church-state issues and abortion, but it offers an opportunity to have this important political constituency represented on the court. Identity politics isn't just for Latinos, blacks and women anymore.

A bonus is that Democrats tend to get stuck on stupid when it comes to dealing with Christian conservatives. Nothing would please Karl Rove more than to watch Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden maneuver themselves into a position where they sound like they're saying "committed Christians need not apply."

None of these is a bad reason for tapping Miers. But President Bush has put himself in the awkward position of asking his base to trust him at precisely the moment the base was expecting Bush to demonstrate their trust was well-founded in the first place.

Another possible reason might be the complete untrustworthiness of the Senate Republicans. They failed to go to war and be done with judicial fillibusters, so, even though the base would love to see an "IN YOUR FACE!!" nominee to the Supreme Court, what reason is there to expect that the spineless Senators wouldn't fold and run for the hills at the first sign of controversy? With friends like the Republican Senate, who needs enemies?

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