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The Trouble with Harriet


I'm not a lawyer or a legal scholar. I'm just an average Joe, who happens to be a voracious reader and I've been reading about the choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.

I wouldn't want George Bush's job. My daughter came to me the other day and commented how Bill Clinton had it easy: the economy rolled forward largely on the advent of the Internet and the desktop computer in homes and small businesses, and to a lesser degree on the spring from a slight recession in the early 1990's and on the cutting of taxes in the 1980's. The world was relatively peaceful, to the point where we as a nation could be absorbed in a president's blowjobs.

Ol' George, on the other hand, has had to deal with some pretty seismic issues, like 9/11, the GWOT, and the near-destruction of a major US city. I've been a hearty supporter of Bush in the GWOT and I've criticized him on the maladroit response to Katrina. The hurricane relief has gone better since the initial missteps. But Katrina also exposed Bush's preference for insiders, a la cronyism.

I don't mind a person choosing people with whom they are familiar to help them, especially in such a complicated task as the presidency. Bush's White House has been leak-proof, which is a must-have asset in rumor-mongering Washington, and he's surrounded himself with good people it seems in many respects. I've been very impressed with his closer picks: Cheney, Condi, and Ari Fleischer, the first WH spokesperson. The list goes on - these are just a few that are remarkable.

I thought John Roberts was an exceptional nominee for SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). The Senate agreed and he is where he is as the new Chief Justice.

And then there is Harriet Miers, who possesses exceptional strength and intelligence, both good traits.

If the nation is like a big ship, then blogs are like tugboats. As Bush and the big media folks struggle to steer the big ship, occasionally they run into a bit of pushback. That has happened here with the nomination of Miers.

Some would suggest that conservative criticism of Miers is elitist, but if that's true for some, it's not evident in what I read. Most of what I read shows the criticism to be two simple points:

  • Does she have an ease with constitutional law?
  • How do we know that she's a conservative who will stick to a constructionist philosophy?

Both could be true, which would placate the conservative base, but in the absence of fact, we're shrugging to say, "We don't know." Sometimes we're mouthy about our "I don't know," but if the president doesn't communicate or articulate her stregnths for us to get behind her, pardon us for questioning his choice. The conservative base is not to be taken for granted. And there, I think, is Bush's flaw in this: he made a supremely uninformed assumption.

But the reason that the president is having a hard time with this bit of communication is because it's hard to answer the two remaining questions. Arlen Specter, hardly a pillar of conservative thought, was mentioned and quoted:

Several Republicans, including Mr. Specter, said they steered clear of asking Ms. Miers questions about constitutional law. Mr. Specter, who said the timing of the confirmation hearings would depend in part on when Ms. Miers felt ready, said he initiated a discussion of the shifting standards the Supreme Court has applied in interpreting the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but only to illustrate to Ms. Miers the kinds of questions she would face during her hearings.

"I did not ask her about it because I don't think she's ready to face it at the moment," he said. "Look, the lady was White House counsel dealing with totally other subjects until Sunday night when the president offered her the job. And Monday she's sitting with me. I'm not going to ask her questions which she hasn't had a chance to study or reflect on."

Not ready for questions about her grasp of constitutional law??? Then why is she even there? Why are we pussyfooting around this nominee? Good lord...

Bush has a few years left in office. He has always lacked Reagan's and Clinton's facility with communication and certainly doesn't have the media on his side, which makes his job in communicating harder. But he does have us little tugboats, and we've shown our benefit in the past. He'd be wise to listen up. Otherwise he'll be steered in a direction he may not like or expect.


by Brett Rogers, 10/9/2005 2:54:06 PM


Would you be interested in helping?



Posted by Doug Halsted, 10/18/2005 5:22:29 PM

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