I’m going to make a not-so-bold prediction that the Miers nomination will collapse by the end of the week. Already Eric Erickson’s White House sources are indicating that the vetting process for a replacement has quietly started. John Fund of the Wall Street Journal writes that the Miers nomination was a debacle from the beginning and that Bush is now realizing his position is untenable.
Fund’s analysis is a good one:
The botched handling of the Kerik nomination was a precursor of much that has gone wrong with the Miers nomination. This time, the normal vetting process broke down, with Mr. Card ordering William Kelley, Ms. Miers’s own deputy, to conduct the background checks–a clear conflict of interest. Even Newt Gingrich, a supporter of Ms. Miers’s nomination, says that “the president believes in her so deeply, he is so convinced she’s the right person, that I don’t think it ever occurred to him to go through the kind of normal opposition research and normal vetting.”
Miers was basically thrown to the wolves – unintentionally to be sure – but the effect is the same. The White House had nothing they could use to defend her, and based on her flimsy record, she wasn’t a defendable candidate to begin with. Bush wanted a woman, and Miers turned out to be one of the few candidates that the White House thought would survive a Senate confirmation. It was a major tactical mistake, and a major black eye to the White House.
The Miers nomination was one of the single biggest political mistakes of Bush’s political career. It’s the first time that Bush’s conservative base has truly begun to fracture, and that is severely hurting the Administration. Conservatives are no longer willing to ignore the fact that the Bush Administration is only playing lip service to key elements of the conservative agenda. The Bush Administration has been trying to engage in a series of increasingly ineffective tactics to salvage the Miers nomination, all of which have only exacerbated the problem.
Bush needs to have a “come to Jesus” moment with the conservative base. He needs to realize that he’s eroding his own base of support, and conservatives political loyalty is based on advancing an agenda, not just filling seats. When a Republican President has National Review calling for a judicial nominee to be defeated it is clear that the battle has already been lost.
Miers was a poor choice to begin with, and there’s little point in continuing to make things worse. It is time for her to gracefully bow out and allow the process to go forwards with a qualified nominee.