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A Disappointment

Harriet Miers, that is. I’m sure that she is a capable lawyer and a loyal aide to President Bush. But the bottom line is that he had a number of great candidates to choose from, and instead of picking one of them–Luttig, McConnell, Brown, or a number of others–he nominated someone whose only obvious qualification is her relationship with him.
Miers is also 60 years old, which limits the number of years she will be able to serve on the Court. The great unknown is whether she is a conservative. I don’t know, but President Bush does; and I think he is committed to moving the Court in the right direction. So until we see something to the contrary, I’ll take it on faith that she will be a principled strict constructionist on the Court.
The next move it up to the Democrats; it will be interesting to see what they do. Undoubtedly they will question her qualifications, and you will hear the word “cronyism” from some of them. But will they filibuster? I’ve been predicting that they will, more or less regardless of the identity of the nominee, and there will no doubt be powerful pressure in that direction from far-left interest groups. But it is going to be very hard to explain publicly the rationale for a filibuster of Ms. Miers. Beyond her being (presumably) a Republican, what would the stated grounds be? She has little or no paper trail, and no track record, obviously, as a judge. So I would think the Dems will have to seize on something that comes up during her Judiciary Committee hearing.
Regardless of what the Democrats do, many Republicans will have misgivings about this nomination. “Stealth” nominees have not turned out well for Republicans.
ONE MORE THOUGHT: Various helpful Democrats and media people have advised President Bush that, since he has been weakened by [fill in the blank], he can’t risk a battle with the Senate Democrats and should nominate a “consensus” candidate, i.e. a Democrat/moderate/abortion rights advocate, or whatever, to the Court. The President rightfully rejected this thinking with the Roberts nomination, which turned out to be one of the few political successes of his second term. The reason the Roberts nomination was successful politically was the nominee’s obviously overwhelming qualifications for the job. Bush could have done the same thing once again, with any of a number of superbly qualified candidates. He should have nominated another great conservative, and dared the Democrats to filibuster him: the resulting political fallout might have changed the dynamics of Bush’s second term in the administration’s favor, and we would have wound up with another great jurist on the bench.
Instead, Bush chose a nominee who makes little sense on either substantive or political grounds: a second or third tier candidate whose choice will be, I think, slight political minus for the President because of her perceived lack of qualifications. I really don’t get it.
PAUL concurs: This nominee is a two-fer — she would not have been selected but for her gender, and she would not have been selected but for her status as a Bush crony. So instead of a 50-year old conservative experienced jurist we get a 60-year old with no judicial experience who may or may not be conservative.
I was hoping that, because this is Bush’s second term, he would thumb his nose at the diversity-mongers and appoint the best candidate. He thumbed his nose all right, but at conservatives.
FRIENDS IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES: Here’s more. Washington Post reporter Mike Allen, writing in Time’s online edition, calls Miers a safe pick and notes that her name was suggested by several Democratic Senators. Allen quotes Harry Reid, who says, “I like Harriet Miers.” And a Republican Senate staffer says, “If there is a fight to be had, it will be from the right.” Great.
Meanwhile, Red State and others are pointing out that, based on political contributions, Miers appears to have been a Democrat at least until the end of the 1980s.
The only positive spin I can think of is this: President Bush knows Miers well, and it is almost inconceivable to me that he is insincere in his repeated descriptions of what he is looking for in Supreme Court justices. He also is acutely aware that the Souter nomination was one of the chief blots on his father’s administration. Is it possible that he would waste a Supreme Court nomination on someone who isn’t a conservative? It’s hard for me to believe, but the evidence so far isn’t encouraging.
ONE MORE: The most optimistic conservative I’ve seen so far is the ever-positive Hugh Hewitt.
PAUL adds: The fact that President Bush knows Harriet Miers and must think she’s conservative doesn’t take me very far. I’m willing to take it on faith that, in a very general sense, she’s a conservative as opposed to a liberal or centrist. But so was Sandra Day O’Connor. I doubt that Bush has any idea whether Miers’ conservatism runs any deeper than that, much less how it would translate into the judicial battle field.

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