A strange new respect

The nomination of Harriet Miers is proving to be such a curve ball that it threatens to shake up the political landscape in ways no one could have expected. For one thing, it may revive the adage — which has become somewhat less true in modern times — that “politics makes strange bedfellows.”

Consider the weight some conservatives are according the views of Senators Specter and Leahy. Yesterday, both criticized Miers’ response to the Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire as “skimpy.” Normally, agreement by Specter and Leahy would create an almost irrebutable presumption in the minds of conservatives that the contrary proposition (whatever it was) is valid. Yet, some conservatives are citing the views of these two as authoritative (some are also picking at her answers and punctuation on their own, which another story). I don’t see Miers’ answers as too skimpy, and I wonder whether the contrary view of Specter and Leahy would hold such sway if the author were someone conservatives liked.

Specter also seems to be getting too much respect when it comes to the dispute over what Miers told him about the privacy issue. Thus, Charles Krauthammer says that Miers “confused Chairman Specter about her position on Griswold, the second most famous right to privacy case ever.” I guess one can characterize it that way. But if Specter had come out of a meeting with John Roberts confused, would one say that Roberts had confused him? Miers is no Roberts, but my money is on Specter, not Miers, as the primary culprit in this misunderstanding. It’s not like you can’t find people in Washington who, having dealt with Specter, question his ability to keep things straight at all times.

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