Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush nominates Miers

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Is it really possible that we will have a Supreme Court that will be less and not more Conservative as a consequence of Bush's nominations? It's early days, and there's much that we do not know about White House Counsel Harriet Miers. But we do know this already:

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In the aftermath of Nov 04, I don't think anybody could have expected two such moderate and, at least prosaically, non-ideological nominations to the Supreme Court. John Roberts, in spite of his past political affiliations, explicitly demonstrated a willingness to be objective and open minded as a fundamental personal philosophy. Harriet Miers, it seems, has first hand experience confronting discrimination, and her political contributions to Al Gore and Lloyd Bentsen show that she retains the capacity to truly appreciate arguments from both sides of the political spectrum.

These choices, at least on the surface, are completely inconsistent with Bush's governing philosophy... which has been to aggressively pursue a Conservative agenda, no matter the cost, completely abdicating the politics of consensus. Perhaps this nomination is symptomatic of a White House that is seeking to reclaim the political center in the wake of dire recent events. So far it has been Liberal pundits expressing almost unconditional support for Miers, while Conservatives like Bill Krystol and Fred Barnes have been left to vent, disappointed. I wonder if this was the desired intention. I wonder also if Bush has independently asserted himself in opposition to his political staff in making this nomination.

The truth is that Harriet Miers appears to be a perfectly suitable replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor. It's just highly ironic that after five years of dogmatic partisanship, the Bush Administration has sacrificed its opportunity to permanently alter the Judicial landscape for decades. Astonishingly, while many Democrats will be crossing their fingers, hoping for a relatively expedient confirmation process, Conservatives might, by contrast, be strategizing to derail her nomination. Who would have thought? It seems that Harriet Miers has taken everybody, on both sides of political spectrum, by complete surprise.

(UPDATE) 10/04/05:
It keeps getting better and better. Miers supported civil rights for Gays and Lesbians in 1989, + Aids education programs for the city of Dallas. That's pretty impressive even for a Conservative Democrat back then. Even if she completely disavows these views, they contribute to the burgeoning civil war amongst Conservatives.

RNC Chairman: "Miers was a Democrat throughout the 1980's..."
Bill Krystol: "I'm Disappointed, Depressed and Demoralized"
David Frum: "Miers nomination... is an unforced error"
MSNBC Profile: A Pitbull in Size 6 Shoes
Hat Tip: Wonkette

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Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

My opinion thus far is hey not so fast, but I have class for the next six hours I can't really even try to find out anything about her until later tonight. My opinon is she does not have a whole lot of qualifications to be a supreme court justice and we need a judge that will legislate from the bench. That's just me. Our constitition is nothing of not imperfect.

Graham said...

Hey Alice, good luck with your classes.

I agree I'm being a bit precipitous, but you have to judge the situation in context. The reality is that after two Bush terms, we're probably going to end up with a Supreme Court that is less Conservative than the Rehnquist court. I find it hard not to be relieved by this.

Chris said...

On the surface, I do agree with Graham. Two months from now, I hope that Graham will still be right.

Shaking up the right wing might be exactly what Bush wants to do. The neocon movement is not designed to govern. It's an attack machine, and they might have spent all their capital.

But I do have to add that I am not so sure Miers is all that moderate.

Graham said...

I can't see Bush wanting to create turmoil in his base. What a lot of people don't get is that Bush can't govern from the center... because he can't win the argument there. If Bush started to operate from a position of being a moderate, with a civilized discourse on the issues, his natural support from that part of the political spectrum would be very vulnerable. He can't win an argument on comprehensive tax cuts, aggressive foreign policy etc, from the center.

Bush relies on his base, because politically they are always there for him. Clinton could't do that, Democrats can't do that, because the Democratic base is fractured and unreliable politically... the left wonder why they don't have a candidate that really reflects their views... well it's because they can't be relied upon as constituency, lol. They're just as likely to do something silly like voting for Ralph Nader. So Clinton and Democrats have to create broad consensus as their base of support and govern to retain that.

Bush can't. It now seems that he is at least in part recognizing the importance of the political center... he's not just satiating his base... and that seems dangerous, but understandable to me. I just would have thought that from socially conservative perspective this would have been the one place where he would have really have tried to do something. You have to feel that both Roberts and Miers could both be part of a very moderate Supreme Court. This is very strange.

One suspicion I have is that something bad politically is on the horizon for the Administration. George Steph said something about word regarding Fitzgerald's inquiries into Plame... and that it could heavily implicate the WH. I wonder if Bush thinks something bad is coming.

Regardless, one thing is really for sure, 2004 was the most important Election of our generation. Stabilizing Iraq, stabilizing defecits, determining the future of the Supreme Court. What a difference a Democrat could have made. No whoever wins in 2008 and they'll have to spend at least four years getting the country out of a mess.

Dr. Forbush said...

With the lies and deception demonstrated through out the Bush presidency I worry about what we don't know. Then again we really don't know George W Bush the man. We only really know the George W Bush that Karl Rove put out there to win elections. He doesn't need tp worry about winning any more elections, so is he beginning to act on his own, or is the Republican Parties future something that Bush feels strongly about? And, if he does is this just another ploy to keep hold of some of the moderates that are questioning his leadership? Or, is it more deceptive than that?

If we actually had an honest president with a history of honesty it would make me feel more comfortable about his actions. With Bush it is always wait and see. If I were a congressmen I would vote no on almost anything he proposed just because of the way he pushed his agenda with lies in the past.

Graham said...

What's kind of interesting right now is that because of Bush's weakened political position... there is a political calculus that is motivating his actions. To be honest, I think most of what Bush has pursued over the past five years has been 100% sincere and honest, and I like that a whole lot less than him having to placate the American people and their opinion of his Administration.

Thanks for the comment :)!

Graham said...

Tonight the Bush Administration are going all out to establish Miers Conservative credentials to placate their base. They are constantly referring to a situation on the American Bar Association where she fought to change their pro-abortion to policy to a neutral one.

This implies to me she acted in this case from one of two motives. She genuinely was seeking to quel turmoil between lawyers with different philosphies. Or she had recently felt aggrieved at her pro-life stance being comprehensively dismissed by the national lawyers association she was a prominent part of.

It's funny that the Bush Administration now risks the worst of both worlds. Whatever they say or do, she will never be the Scalia, or Thomas he promised the base in 04. However alienating every moderate, and every Democrat by trying to paint her as a fundamentalist seems to create antagonism on all sides.

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I don't think what she did back then will have any effect on what she will do on the court. I think she will tow the line of the neo-cons or she would not have been nominated; a Wolf in seeps clothing so to speak.

Either way she is not,in my humble and often not completely informed opinon, qualified.

Sophia said...

I too think this was a smart move by Bush. My untrusting self always wonders about the motivations for such a nomination, but I'm just happy it's her.

Graham said...

Hey Sophia,

I'm a little nervous about the Pro-Life stuff, but in general it could have been much, much worse. I guess we'll have to wait for the hearings to really get to know her though.

Thanks for the comment :)!