Bush Blows It

President Bush has nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. Bush made an excellent choice with Chief Justice Roberts. With this choice, he utterly blew it.

Miers is first and foremost unqualified for the job. She has an extensive list of accomplishments, but none of which qualify her to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She has not served on any of the Federal Circuit Courts. She may have a sharp legal mind, but she doesn’t have the paper trail to prove it.

As a nominee for a Circuit Court, she would have been an acceptable choice. But nominating someone of her limited qualification to the nation’s highest court is a major strategic mistake. The Democrats are out for blood, and the Republicans aren’t going to have much more than lukewarm support for Miers.

Miers is not going to receive much support from conservatives who were hoping for someone in the legal and intellectual mold of a Scalia or a Rehnquist. Instead, we got one brilliant legal mind and one more Souter. The last thing that conservatives want on the Court is another Souter when so many critical legal issues hang in the balance.

Miers is not an adequate nominee, and President Bush has blown it with the base. For their own political good, Republican Senators had better start telling the President to find a more appropriate pick.

Ed Morrissey – Captain’s Quarters:

All that being said, I find this pick mystifying. Miers just turned 60 years old, not exactly ready to retire but potentially giving up at least a decade for the Bush legacy on the Supreme Court. Other women with judicial experience and/or a stronger track record of conservatism could have been found. She didn’t graduate from a top-drawer legal school (SMU), and she didn’t clerk for a highly influential jurist (US District Judge Joe Estes).

Not only does Harriet Miers not look like the best candidate for the job, she doesn’t even look like the best female candidate for the job. If judicial experience is a liability, why not Maureen Mahoney, who is younger, has argued cases at the Supreme Court, and worked within the Deputy Solicitor’s Office after clerking for William Rehnquist? Better yet, why not nominate J. Michael Luttig or Michael McConnell, with their brilliant and scholarly approaches to the law and undeniable qualifications through years of judicial experience? Why not Edith Hollan Jones, if Bush wanted to avoid the confrontation that Janice Rogers Brown would have created?

Miers may make a great stealth candidate, but right now she looks more like a political ploy. Color me disappointed in the first blush.

Power Line – Miers is “a disappointment”:

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.

UPDATE: Senator Thune has this to say:

The nomination and confirmation process of Judge Roberts was a fine example of the Senate performing its Constitutional responsibility of advice and consent. Just as Judge Roberts received a fair up-or-down vote after a thorough examination by both Republicans and Democrats, I expect the same treatment for Harriet Miers. However, I will reserve judgment on this nominee until the Senate studies her qualifications. It has been my expectation that President Bush would nominate someone in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas and it is my hope that Harriet Miers will prove to be such a person.

I think it’s a prima facie case that Miers does not have the requisite qualifications to be a Supreme Court nominee, but Thune and the rest of the Senate does owe her at least a fair hearing. Sadly for the Republic, I don’t think there’s anything that a fair hearing would reveal that would make her seem any more qualified than she already appears – and there’s a good chance that things will come out that will make her seem less qualified.

Based on a previous job as a lawyer for big entertainment companies, her positions on such important issues as intellectual property law, the DMCA, fair use, and other key issues are likely to be less than palatable. The more I look, the less I see to like. The President blew it, and he blew it bigtime.

11 thoughts on “Bush Blows It

  1. “For their own political good, Republican Senators had better start telling the President to find a more appropriate pick.”

    He’s not going to dump her, that’s for sure. Even if she were defeated—and I believe it would have to be Republicans who defeat her—that wouldn’t give Bush much power to defend, say, a Lutig or Jones in her place.

    If the sample of right-leaning opinion I’ve already seen is indicative, Bush will be suporting Miers nearly on his own.

  2. I’m no big fan of the President but I think a lot of folks aren’t giving him his due on this choice. Granted the record is thin and Ms. Miers has no obvious qualification for the Supreme Court. BUT what better way to get an uber-conservative on the court with the least amount of squealing from the Dems? I smell Scalia in a garter belt coming down the pike…

  3. This is indeed a confusing pick. I suspect he’ll take flack from just about everybody on this pick…except perhaps independents and moderates who would welcome an “outsider” to this position. It’s unclear whether she’ll get confirmed, as both sides are gonna be nervous about where she’ll stand. I was certain that with Bush’s problems with his base, he’d go for a barking lunatic like Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, which would get the base back to hating the left and help them forget about their grievances with the President….and bait the Dems into “bullying the minority girl” in the case of Brown. Unless Rove knows something we don’t, this pick is one of the weirdest moments of the Bush Presidency.

  4. Gotta say I definetly approve of an outsider. Each of the members of the court has been a judge for eons, both on the supreme court and prior to their elevation. So much time its only expected that they forgot what its like to be a lawyer. Case in point is their recent ruling on sentencing, which puts thousands of convictions in jeopardy. So its good to see some one who will still remember what its like on the other side.

    As to her positions, I imagine she at least leans pro-life, and is probably a moderate conservative, we’ll all learn mroe as time goes by. My only personal fear is that she is so embedded in a white house that has expanded executive power, would she continue that expansion from the bench?

  5. Pingback: Publius Rendezvous
  6. The hard right is blowing a gasket over this one, and with good reason. I have a feeling that, whether they are aware or not, Bush (and Rove) are setting their own party up to be Nadered by the far right in ’08. This is not unlike Clinton’s push to the right in his second term- which ultimately caused the Green rebellion in 2000, and lost the election for Gore. In any event, it could easily end up sending a message to the GOP- you can’t lie about issues like abortion, gay marriage, and church n’ state issues and expect us to continue to back you. While it won’t drive “values voters” to the Dems, it could easily throw them an election or two- and accidentally re-energize a badly demoralized party.

  7. Nicq, I agree. If McCain or Giuliani becomes the GOP nominee in ’08, the pampered-for-too-long hard right is likely to mount a Gary Bauer-esque third-party challenge, thus making a likely slam-dunk victory for either McCain or Giuliani less than assured.

  8. Even if McCain or Giuliani don’t become the nominee (I still find it unlikely that either one would become the nominee, though I’d find either to be a welcome break from Bushness as usual), I could easily see a Bull Moose from the far right. Bush campaigned as, if not a full-blown member of the Christian Right, at least an ally and sympathetic to the cause. If Bush can’t be trusted, how will the CR be able to trust Bill Frist, Mitt Romney, Condi Rice or Newt Gingrich any more? Bush is taking away the credibility of the “establishment right”, and fast.

    (Of course, this could actually end up winning votes for moderate Dems… if the GOP establishment is going to pick your pocket and doesn’t care about your social issues any more than the Dems do, why not throw your votes to a candidate who might at least give a damn about the working man [not that all Republicans don’t, and I’m only expressing a popular sentiment, not necessarily my own]? While I doubt many voters will think this way, I could see a few Herseth- or Johnson-esq candidates making hay with it… even Montana swung when a Dem hit on the right message in the last election…)

  9. Souter in a dress ? Just a bit disappointed because a Scalia/Thomas/Renquist model was promised and not delivered, or we don’t know if it was delivered. We’ll have to wait and see and in a heavy liberal culture in the courts today, maybe an outsider is warrented but how do they know she will stand up to the pressure and not become the “swing” vote like Sandra Day. I would be happy if the did get a strict constructionist that doesn’t lean to one way or another, but that has been near impossible. Since the country is polarized and splitting the baby with those rulings already on the books would tend toward the status quo. McCain Feingold, Kelo, of course Roe, just to name a few.
    As far as splitting the conservative base from the rest of the republican base, where will they go? Buchanen and Robertson’s bids were miserable failures. Bush isn’t running and so he hasn’t really have to worry either. Maybe he figures that republicans can count on those 38% and tack towards the left and see if he can pick up disaffected conservative dem’s who have watched their party being taken over by the Deaniacs and Soro’s. Still to far out from any election for that to really sit with the independents who really don’t take an interest until sometime in Nov. . Puzzling

  10. Nicq, I agree. If McCain or Giuliani becomes the GOP nominee in ‘08, the pampered-for-too-long hard right is likely to mount a Gary Bauer-esque third-party challenge, thus making a likely slam-dunk victory for either McCain or Giuliani less than assured.

    And if they did, so what? Evangelicals aren’t fundamentalists, and fundamentalists represent a very small fraction of the electorate. McCain is pro-life, and Giuiliani is leading the pack in the straw polls – even among strong conservatives.

    If either of them decided to run, they’d stand a very good chance of surviving the primaries (provided they don’t implode their campaigns early on) and either one would wipe the floor with any Democrat the DNC could find.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.