Friday, October 07, 2005

Harriet Miers Is Toast, Cont'd

Charles Krauthammer makes valid points in his op-ed.

Bush has had, up until recently, a pretty good ear for the politics of his supporters. Not now. As a lawyer friend of mine said tonight: It is like Bush rolled out of bed, showered up, and headed off to the press conference naming Miers. If anyone had known what he was going to do, they wouldn't have let him near the podium.

In withdrawn nominations there is a certain set of events that seem to recur: a lack of support that turns into opposition, the nominee getting initial support from the President, the old "I have confidence" speech, and then the opposition begins to metastasize into hostility. Soon thereafter is the "with regret" speech of a withdrawn nomination.

As I have written before, Roe always gets the press but what many are concerned with, myself included, is Kelo. There is never going to be a better time to debate the merits or perils of activist judges and, if anything, such a debate may help Bush and his current low approval numbers. Less than a year ago, the President talked about his willingness to expend political capital; it is time to get out the wallet.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Louis Freeh Speaks

Louis Freeh, in his upcoming interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes this Sunday, excoriates Bill Clinton. (Thanks Matt.) Freeh appears on the venerable C.B.S. show to support his new book which details the icy relationship between the former Director of the F.B.I. and President Clinton.

Cue the Democratic/Clintonista attack machine. Who will strike first? My money is on Sidney Blumenthal, the political eunuch who has stood by Bill and Hill with Cocker-Spanielesque loyalty, allowing the former President and Senator from New York to stay above the fray.

If Michael Scheuer's book needs to be taken seriously, so should Freeh's. More on this once I have a chance to read it.

Miers Is Done, Part II

More conservative ire over this nomination.

Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, Souter. The 'trust me' argument will not, and should not, placate those who want a debate over the proper role of the judiciary in this country. Within a week Miers will withdraw her name, citing the usual reasons which never tell the whole story, and Bush will be back to looking for a new Justice.

Could this have been a Trojan horse? Is Karl Rove that brilliant? After all, he can control the weather, so why not something as trivial as this? Here comes Priscilla Owen...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why Times Select Is Doomed.

Just read Maureen Dowd's newest column; she has substituted Sex In The City references with Desperate Housewives references. She's like Aristotle, Locke and Hobbes all rolled into one!

Of course I didn't pay for the privilege of reading this meringue of political wisdom, sweet but unfulfilling; I merely Googled the blogs to find it. Google and Technorati have become the Napster of opinion columns. Didn't the Times see this coming? Could they have missed the fact that the Internet can disseminate information far easier than it can repress it? (Unless one is in China and greedy companies help to suppress free speech, of course.)

Sony's CD anti-pirating technology came to grief through a 99 cent Marks-A-Lot; subverting the wall of Times Select was even cheaper than that.

Money quote from a Dowd/Paul Krugman/Frank Rich column site:

Agree totally with your complaint about the NY Times . . . and isn't it interesting that the most liberal columnists are the ones you now have to pay to read? Unlike you, however, I don't feel a bit guilty reading them for free!

Good luck to ya, Pinch.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Miers Won't Be Confirmed.

There, I wrote it.

FEMA should be managing this confirmation process.

The problem here isn't one specific issue; it is rather the combined weight of Miers lack of judicial experience, a dearth of any apparent or demonstrable legal philosophy, her close personal ties to President Bush, and the obviousness of picking her as a "diversity" candidate. Bush calling her "the most qualified" person available is embarrassing.

It is one thing for a nominee to be considered conservative and then demonstrate what is considered a "moderate" streak throughout the confirmation process; it is quite another for the White House and other Republican interest groups to have to gin up enthusiasm through extolling her conservative virtues. The usual liberal suspects, the Alliance for Justice, PFAW, NARAL, etc., will obligingly sit back and then attack Miers with statements made in her defense. So conservatives will still be unhappy while providing the club with which the liberals will beat the nominee. It is a no-win situation.

Another problem for Miers is that she follows close on the heels of one of the most accomplished and masterful confirmation hearing performances in history, that of John Roberts. I may be proven wrong but it is hard to see how Ms. Miers can even come close to the standard of the current Chief Justice.

Lastly, as has been written, Bush has backed away from a battle he should be willing to fight. Through his nominations to the high court President Bush has the "bully pulpit" through which he can act as a catalyst for a national debate on jurisprudence and the role of the judiciary in a republic. Short of that, all of the dialogue and campaign rhetoric about the dangers of activist judges is nothing more than writing in the sand.

Update: Kurtz weighs in.

Update 2: George Will also opines, and it isn't pretty.

The NYT Harriet Miers Editorial

At some point the editorial writing from the Gray Lady will have to be put behind the wall of Times Select; it is just that abysmal.

It is a sign of the times that President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court was greeted with so many sighs of relief. Ms. Miers's record is so thin that no one seems to have any idea of what she believes, and she was clearly chosen because of her close ties to the president, not her legal qualifications. Still, there is no evidence as yet that she is an ideological warrior who would attempt to return American jurisprudence to the 18th century, and these days, the nation seems to be setting the bar for almost everything pretty low.

No evidence as yet that she would attempt to return jurisprudence to the 18th century. Is this a bad thing? Would the editorial board want to overturn Marbury? (It was written in 1803, by the way.) Can there be anything more telling than the idea that returning to interpreting the Constitution is disturbing to the Times? And as far as the accusation that Miers is an "ideological warrior"; does this mean that William O. Douglas was a "moderate", the favorite, if entirely misplaced, encomium of the NYT for a Leftist activist? Yes, the nation is setting the bar low these days and it is particularly true of the editorials emanating from our national newspapers.

Ms. Miers's resume gives at least some reason to hope that she could be a moderate, pragmatic judge in the mold of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat she will fill if she is confirmed. She has spent much of her career in corporate law firms and bar associations, environments that encourage pragmatism over ideology.

My guess is that the Times will define “pragmatism” about the same time they start correcting the legion of factual errors in the columns that comprise Times Select. Currently, there are more Krugman corrections than there are columns, something I wouldn’t have even thought possible.

The far right of the Republican Party will oppose anyone who has shown signs of moderation, and Senate Democrats will try to block anyone who has not. Rather than select a strongly qualified candidate from the legal mainstream, President Bush has taken the easy way out by choosing a less accomplished nominee who will raise fewer political problems.

Well, there you have it: The Republicans are the party opposed to moderation, the Democrats are expositors of that “virtue”. Also, note that the “far Right” is mentioned but the “far Left” is not. Perhaps the Times doesn’t think there is such a thing.

Of course the NYT will oppose this nomination.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Thousand Cuts Or The Kitchen Sink?

Tom DeLay has now been indicted on money laundering charges. More here.

Although it is too early to really understand if DeLay is guilty or innocent it is beginning to imperil Bush and the G.O.P.'s effort to get back on message. Is this stuff politicized? Of course it is because Washington plays a zero-sum game and the Democrats smell blood in the water. Their biggest problem right now is finding someone who isn't ethically challenged to act as their point person. The usual hacks, like Richard "Pol Pot" Durbin and Chuck "FICO" Schumer have been largely silent. I would also imagine that Hillary will prudently avoid a discussion on fundraising. This looks like a job for... Barack Obama.

DeLay is further hampered by the fact that many conservatives are unhappy with his lack of fiscal discipline and the fact that over the last 10 years in power he has come to represent many of the things he held in contempt in 1994. At what point does DeLay become so damaged by these charges that he ceases to be effective, even if he is acquitted? Does the White House and Republican leadership want to fight for what may be a Pyrrhic victory?

Souter Redux?

Harriet Miers.

Although most people might not know it, only two of the nine Justices currently serving on the Supreme Court were appointed by a Democrat. This is problematic for Republicans because two appointments, John Paul Stevens and David Souter, elevated by Presidents Ford and Bush #41 respectively, have been, to be charitable, disappointing.

Now Bush #43 has appointed Harriet Miers, a woman who has worked with him in his capacity as governor and president but who has never been a judge and has little judicial provenance. This should be disturbing to those who wish to see the court as an arbiter and not an interpreter. If recent history is a guide, and by recent history I mean David Souter, stealth nominees are a gamble and one not worth taking.

In the coming weeks we will learn more about Ms. Miers and the process by which she was selected but I can't help but think that, in light of his recent job approval ratings, Bush might have been disinclined to nominate someone that would have caused a bitter battle in the Senate. This is a mistake, because this is a fight worth having. I'll take having Schumer, Durbin, Biden, etc., as opponents every day of the week.

Instead Bush has nominated Aunt Bee, a loyal friend but undistinguished. So is my retriever.

The Roberts nomination was inspired, this one seems contrived. Bush should have done better.

Update: Hugh Hewitt thinks I and others like me are silly. I hope he is correct. But wouldn't he agree that she wasn't the best pick?

Update #2: Michelle is on to something...

What Julie Myers is to the Department of Homeland Security, Harriet Miers is to the Supreme Court. (Video of the announcement here via NYT).) It's not just that Miers has zero judicial experience. It's that she's so transparently a crony/"diversity" pick while so many other vastly more qualified and impressive candidates went to waste. If this is President Bush's bright idea to buck up his sagging popularity--among conservatives as well as the nation at large--one wonders whom he would have picked in rosier times. Shudder.