Tuesday, October 11, 2005

You Would Be Lucky To Get Her To Work For You

David Frum takes a look at the underwhelming praise coming in from conservative lawyers. He also highlights some really super thoughts Miers expressed in her meager paper trail. See also his National Post article here and interview on Hewitt's show here.

Here's an interesting little tidbit from the Hewitt interview:

DF: But your premise here, is that those 55 Republicans are going to vote for Harriet Miers, and they're not.

HH: My premise is that the president knew he couldn't break a filibuster, but that he could get Miers confirmed, and that she's a reliable vote, in his view, and that we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt.

DF: Okay, well he thought he knew that. But what he did not factor in was that four weeks after Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job, he could not afford to nominate a crony.

HH: Well, I don't know why not, because if in fact the counter-assault on Miers had not begun, he would be in pretty good shape right now. And in fact...

DF: But it was inevitable that it would begin. It was inevitable.

HH: No...How could it...

DF: Because we were there. You and I were both there. We saw...the outrage over this thing exploded in an hour and a half.

HH: Yes, because of Nationalreview.com, David.

DF: No. Well, look. I'm not going to refuse the compliment. But not really.

Come on, Hugh. We aren't just a bunch of robots out here waiting for orders from National Review. And you know it. Also, weren't you one of the original lone voices calling the Gang of 14 deal a major victory as if the deadlock had been broken? Now you're singing a "there was no way Bush could get a real pick confirmed" tune. Which is it?

Here's an excerpt from the National Post piece:

CBS last week also released new presidential approval numbers, based on a survey conducted October 3-5. Bush is down to 37%, the lowest presidential approval rating since the Carter years. That number is buoyed, though, by the President's continued high approval rating among conservatives: 80%.

But Oct. 3 was the date that the Miers nomination was announced. As conservatives digest their disappointment and betrayal, their approval of the President is likely to decline. It's hard to say how powerful this effect will be overall, but here's one clue: A poll Monday of 200 right-of-centre bloggers by the RightWingNews.com Web site found that 49% regarded the appointment as a "bad or terrible" decision. Only 9% rated it "good or excellent." And while 4% of the bloggers said that the decision raised their opinion of President Bush, 53% made them view the President less favourably.

While it would seem unlikely that conservatives overall would react as strongly as these intensely political bloggers, the trend and tendency are both clear.

The problem is made worse by the White House's publicity campaign in defence of Miers. Advocates of the appointment have accused critics of "sexism" and "elitism" -- charges that have been echoed by left-wing Democrats like Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. There are probably few tactics less likely to impress a conservative audience -- or more likely to convince that audience that Miers is indeed the unqualified crony her critics say she is.

The only thing worse may be the White House's second talking point: emphasizing Miers' personal qualities. Former White House aide David Kuo tells this story in an op-ed posted on the beliefnet.com Web site:

"Harriet used to keep a humidor full of M&Ms in her West Wing office. It wasn't a huge secret. She'd stash some boxes of the coveted red, white, and blue M&Ms in specially made boxes bearing George W. Bush's reprinted signature. Her door was always open and the M&Ms were always available. I dared ask one time why they were there. Her answer: 'I like M&Ms and I like sharing.' "

This anecdote almost invites the retort: Well why don't we go all the way and put Barney the purple dinosaur on the court?

More seriously, it disregards and insults the seriousness with which conservatives have worked for three decades to bring change to America's high-handed courts. There is no domestic issue that conservatives care about more, nothing for which individual conservatives have made greater personal sacrifices than to get ready for the day when a conservative president and a Republican Senate would at last hold the power to fill that crucial swing seat on the court.

President Bush's decision to award that seat to his personal attorney in thanks for her years of service to himself personally has enraged his political base. Ann Coulter expressed that rage in her inimitably astringent way two days after the nomination was announced: "Being on the Supreme Court isn't like winning a 'Best Employee of the Month' award. However nice, helpful, prompt and tidy she is, Harriet Miers isn't qualified to play a Supreme Court justice on The West Wing, let alone to be a real one."

Offending your supporters has real-world consequences. With one grave misjudgment, George W. Bush has shattered the coalition that brought and returned him to power in 2000 and 2004.

Yes, he most certainly has. Unless he withdraws the nomination and gets real. If he doesn't, I think he's essentially finished. It would be different if he'd been conservative on anything but the war (and even there, let's be honest, he's been doing a merely adequate job), but he hasn't. And now he's paying the price.

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