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Miers Through the 2008 Lens

With conservative unrest toward Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court showing no signs of abating, I wondered why we haven't seen any of the Republican senators mentioned as 2008 presidential candidates come out against her, a move that would win them plaudits among the party's ideological right -- not to mention scads of press coverage.

I made several phone calls to Republican consultants and advisers to try and find answers.  The overwhelming consensus was that even though President Bush's approval ratings are not stellar currently, none of the potential '08 candidates is willing to risk his wrath by making the political gambit of publicly opposing Miers.

"Nobody wants to take a sharp stick and poke it in the eye of the president no matter what his approval rating is," said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster with the firm Public Opinion Strategies. "He is too strong with Republican primary voters and three years from now he will remember anyone who votes against his nominee."

An adviser to one of the candidates often mentioned as a 2008 contender echoed Bolger's sentiment. "The danger for anybody is that this president takes those things very seriously. You cross him at your own peril."

The adviser, who asked to withhold his name in order to comment more freely, acknowledged that declaring opposition to Miers could help a candidate in the "competition for someone to emerge as the right wing alternative."

Chuck Todd, the editor-in-chief of the Hotline -- the premier political tipsheet -- says in his column today that the lack of public opposition to Miers is about -- surprise! -- money. "The Bushies may become unpopular with the grassroots during the next election but they'll be able to financially veto candidates if they please," Todd writes.

To date, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback (R) has been the most outspoken of the would-be presidential candidates. A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brownback said recently of Miers: "A lot of us wanted to see somebody that was a well-formed jurist so that they had a track record of what they would do in cases coming in front of the court. Harriet Miers doesn't have that track record and doesn't seem to be well-formed in her judicial philosophy, having never been on the bench."

Brownback is a favorite of social conservatives but is little-known nationally and would seem to have the most to gain by publicly opposing Miers in the near future.

Here are a few snippets of comments made about Miers by GOP senators often mentioned as considering presidential bids in 2008:

* Sen. George Allen (Va.): "I want to be assured she's not going to be a [Associate Justice David] Souter."; "Right now, I'm keeping an open mind. I need to learn more. I'm trying to discern as best I can what her judicial philosophy is."

* Sen. John McCain (Ariz.): "Over the course of 30 years, Ms. Miers has accumulated vast experience as a legal practitioner, led her peers as the head of state and local bar associations, and worked tirelessly as a dedicated public servant."

* Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.): "I have met her, but beyond that, I really haven't worked with her. I know very little about her."

* Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.): "She understands the importance of judicial restraint, and will faithfully interpret the Constitution, not legislate from the bench."

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 12, 2005; 10:21 AM ET
Categories:  Politics and the Court  
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When are George Bush's daughters going to Volunteer to go to get Shot Up & Bombed in Iraq? All of our Great War Supporting REPUBLICANS....Why haven't they Served their Country in the Military? (Yes, Some have...but, they are scarcer than "Hen's Teeth"!) Our great Republican War supporters send our Low to Middle Income young people off to War...but, where are the Upper and Rich Income people?
Truth is...Republicans do not care about People...they don't care how many people die or are brutally wounded! And, while they are serving...and the Service time being Extended, what are the Republicans--Especailly, the CONSERVATAIVE RELIGIOUS IDEOLOGS, doing? Cutting the Taxes for the Filthy Wealthy and Upper Income people.
They not only don't serve...George, Junior, CUTS THEIR TAXES!
George Bush should Be Impeached!

Posted by: Gary Lukert | October 13, 2005 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Bravo William. I never comment on any of these post boards because I feel that they seem to be more bickering than genuine debate and real commentary. However, I am encouraged to see some real genuine questions being posed.

I am a moderate liberal, and many of the conservative moves and issues I agree with on the merits. But the nomination of Harriet Miers is just not one of them. When I think how far the nomination pool has moved from the days of Burger or Warren I am outraged. I concur with William; we must begin to ask the question of why.


Why would this nomination be good for the supreme court and the nation as a whole? Who benefits? And trust me... as an African American I might have more to be concerned about than any other group!

So I resolve myself to be less troubled with the Miers nomination itself; as much as I am troubled with the prospect that lack of qualifications are not as important as political ideolgy, and party loyalty. Truthfully, the result of not carefully picking strong and sound supreme court judges as opposed to "Mier-ly" selecting good lawyers will be felt for gernerations to come.

With that reality looming on the face of a nomination such as Harriet Miers, my colleagues and I are prepared to turn the clock back a few years and be ready to re-argue Brown v. Board of Education; or possibly Plessy v. Ferguson!!

Good Day to All!


Posted by: Keivin | October 13, 2005 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Here's the prediction. Ready? Keep this and be amazed.

Miers is not intended to be approved.

The Dems will do their job and block her.

The Pubs will throw their hands up, say they tried a woman and the Dems stopped them.

You will then see a more conservative male nominee put forth with the confidence that the Dems will roll over and play dead amongst all of the obstructionist rhetoric the corporate media will throw at them.

Mark my words :-)

Posted by: bc | October 13, 2005 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to add my name.
The above post is mine.


Posted by: William Edwards | October 13, 2005 9:08 AM | Report abuse

First, some comments on Clint's post, then on to my 2 cents on opposition:

Lack of judicial experience, and therefore bias, should be considered a good thing.
** I continue to hear this as an argument from the right, but not a single conservative has been able to follow up this phrase with a reason.
Why, Clint?
Why, Republican America?
WHY is it a "good thing" that we may possibly confirm someone to the nation's highest court who has never been a justice at ANY level, anywhere. Why. The only thing I've heard so far is "it worked out with Rehnquist". Good logic.

Suggesting that impartiality is the mark of an appropriate nominee is absurd.
** Absurd?? It is ABSURD to expect a justice on the nation's highest court to weigh each case on the merits of the evidence, without coloration, without opinion, without prejudice? That is an ABSURD suggestion? To assume that such a person (much less 9) exists may be absurd, but to suggest that it is an appropriate trait for an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is not only not absurd, it is laudable and should be considered the standard that we continue to strive for.

You wouldn't be happy with a neutral opinion, an opposing opinion, or any opinion that isn't predictably aligned with your own.
** Funny, this is exactly what I thought when I read Michelle Malkin about Ms. Miers' nomination. And John Hinderaker. And David Frum. And pretty much anyone else in the conservative right. The consistent line has been, "Mr. President, we expected you to move the SCOTUS to the right, and you let us down." Throw stones at your own glass house first.

The more you say, the more obvious it is how little original thought is swimming around in those cavernous heads of yours.
** Well, I'll give you this, Clint - nominating a woefully underqualified insider with close allegiance to the President to a position that politics shouldn't have anything to do with is certainly original. Unfortunately, it becomes more and more routine everyday (Mike Brown Julie Myers Scott Gottlieb David Safavian the list goes on).

I suppose that's a demonstration of the superior intellect amongst those who did not elect Bush.
** I suppose that would be the majority of American voters in the 2000 Presidential election, then?
Actually, you're right - if we had not elected (and re-elected) Bush, that certainly would have been a "demonstration of superior intellect".

Tighten up on your game, Clint.

As for the fight, as the "opposition party", we should fight the fights we can, for the reasons that fights should take place. Nomination fights should be on the grounds of qualification, not on ideology.

John Roberts was not a guy to fight. He is a qualified, brilliant legal mind, a man who knows the difference between working for his clients as a lawyer and interpreting law as a judge.

Harriet Miers is a nominee to fight, even if a win lands us a more conservative pick in round 2.
She's underqualified for the nomination, even more so in light of others who were passed over, and her nomination continues an embarrassing trend of this Administration passing over individuals at all levels who can help this country in favor of those who will walk the White House party line.


Posted by: Anonymous | October 13, 2005 9:07 AM | Report abuse

We have to be able to do better than Miers. Is she really one of the top nine legal minds in our country?

Posted by: Doug | October 12, 2005 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Why would Bush nominate his own lawyer? Because he's terrified of going to jail. There is no other plausible explanation.

Posted by: Fred | October 12, 2005 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Miers is the pro-life silver bullet. The problem is conservatives have issues other than abortion to be concerned with.

Nobody knows how she'll side on the other 99% of the issues that aren't as black and white.

There are literally 100's of judges and lawyers that could have been chosen that would have covered other conservative issues with more certainty.

Publicans need to live with the shoot from the hip leadership they espoused as a strength in the election.

Time to pay the piper ditto heads!

Props to BobbyWC for his editorial. Fun reading.

Joel's comments are right on. Too many sheeple...

Posted by: bc | October 12, 2005 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I think she will do as she is told but as Anarcissie says that might not be to overturn Roe v. Wade. I do not believe Bush and the Republican leadership give a rat about Roe v. Wade, they just want to win. If they have a big majority after 2006 elections, or they are on the plank, then maybe they will try to kill Roe v. Wade but if things remain as they are now they will tiptoe away. Miers as a Bush robot would be a big help in this.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 12, 2005 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Surely she knows that amongst her peers ,if confirmed, she'd be considered a light weight as a legal scholar.I think she has a very specific mission as a Bush operative,defeat Roe v Wade if given the opportunity. Hold your cards close to your chest in the mean time. Get confirmed. Hello to "Justice Light"

Posted by: Alan | October 12, 2005 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I assume the Republicans want to hold on to their power, and that they Administration is not as dumb as it looks -- it only plays dumb because dumbness is popular with the voters. If so, they would not find it desirable for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade because the outcome would almost certainly be unpredictable political upheaval which might end the rightist ascendency that began with Reagan. My guess therefore is that Miers is basically a covert moderate or opportunist who will take orders from Bush and company.

Posted by: Anarcissie | October 12, 2005 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Trading insults is not discussion. Can you Americans debate calmly and respectfully to each other on contentious issues? If you set such examples, who would care for US-style democracy in the rest of the world? Look at how the Germans hate each other but still manage to sit together in civility to form a grand coalition. I think some of the GOPs are a bit consumed first by hubris and then insecurity, while some of the Dems are sour losers. You all can do better!

Posted by: Joel | October 12, 2005 5:40 PM | Report abuse

"I've half a mind to come down there myself and chase that witch, CINDY SHEEAN, off YOUR PROPERTY with an INJUNCTION!!

Yours, with you in Christ,


That's All Folks!!!
Good luck to us!

Posted by: Harriet Meier | October 12, 2005 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Really, everybody. Let's hold on until we see how she handles herself at the hearings. Personally, I find the Bushies ignorant, self-impressed, very destructive, and scary as hell, but maybe Ms. Miers is made of finer stuff. We just don't know yet.

Posted by: steakophile | October 12, 2005 4:46 PM | Report abuse

It's rather amazing at how the Bush apologists read like a collection of Republican Talking Points and then have the chutzpah to trash the views of those on the left.

Before you folks go about casting aspersions and throwing stones, take a good long look in the mirror.

The hypocrisy of the neo-cons is really a sight to behold.

Posted by: scootmandubious | October 12, 2005 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Make whoever you want the Supreme Court justice. I don't care.

Posted by: Doesn't matter. | October 12, 2005 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Clint: Spoken like a True Republican Clone. Right off the script.

Posted by: James | October 12, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Lack of judicial experience, and therefore bias, should be considered a good thing. Suggesting that impartiality is the mark of an appropriate nominee is absurd. The very reason many of you are uncomfortable with Bush's nomination is the fear of a partiality that opposes your own twisted views of how things should be. You wouldn't be happy with a neutral opinion, an opposing opinion, or any opinion that isn't predictably aligned with your own. If that's what you want, then gather your supposedly more intelligent ranks, and elect a morally sound Democrat president (if you can find any such person) and hope for an opportunity to sway the court again in favor of the morally corrupt.

In the mean time I'd recommend silence. The more you say, the more obvious it is how little original thought is swimming around in those cavernous heads of yours.

BTW, James would have more credibility if he'd bother to correctly spell Ms. Miers' name. It's not Mier. Names do not have singular and plural forms. I suppose that's a demonstration of the superior intellect amongst those who did not elect Bush.

Posted by: Clint | October 12, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Nick: That's funny! You're implying that Democrats have a problem with having "open debate within their own ranks?" That's a knee slapper!

Mier should not be confirmed because, (a) she has no judicial experience; and, (b) she's likely not going to be a fully impartial justice.

Now, give us something more, "intellectual."

Posted by: James | October 12, 2005 3:47 PM | Report abuse

re: Tommy at 2;49:10. He is president because the majority of American voters are just as stupid as he is. BTW, I'm not planning to run for any public office.

Posted by: RTB | October 12, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The lack of intellectual substance in some of these left-wing posts really underscores the state of liberal politics these days.

The Miers nomination is causing an upheaval among conservatives because they have the honesty and courage to have open debate within their own ranks--something that is missing on the other side of the aisle.

Posted by: Nick | October 12, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

At this point, Senate Democrats have nothing to lose in openly opposing Mier. If Bush wants a fight over a more conservative, but more pettigreed, candidate, fine. In his (and his party's)weakened state, it's a fight he could well lose. Bring it on.

Posted by: James | October 12, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

George Bush got to be president by faithfully following the orders of big business (especially oil) while pandering to the right wing nuts and religious fundamentalists.

Posted by: Jim | October 12, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Miers look like a witch? She ought to be chasing Hansel & Gretel around the Gingerbread House.

Posted by: E. Etage | October 12, 2005 3:01 PM | Report abuse

If George Bush is so stupid how does he hold the office of President?

Posted by: Tommy | October 12, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

What do any of these posts have to do with Meirs? You guys aren't making your point, you're just reciting the liberal talking points that you've been handed. Get a mind of your own people.

Posted by: Jimmy | October 12, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I found it very interesting who had positive things to say about Miers. Like Mr. Cillizza said, those who want a go at the White House aren't going to risk objecting her.

Posted by: PW | October 12, 2005 2:07 PM | Report abuse

What is really sad about this is that, if she gets to the Supreme Court, Miers will have to reflexively take the most right-wing of positions to justify the faith of her beloved benefactor.

Dems do not win by opposing her, because there is no moderate that will get appointed. So it's a matter of whether or not we go with somebody who might veer towards the center with time.

Considering she once contributed to Democrats (even Dukakis!), maybe there is hope.

I just won't be holding my breath.

Posted by: scootmandubious | October 12, 2005 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a clue what people mean by any "strict" construction of the Constitution. The use of the Declaration of Independence by both Dems and 'PUbs, lawyers, to define the intent of the Constitution is beyond my comprehension of any interpretation of the Constitution. If they simply look at the occupations of the framers of the all three documents, Declaration, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, then I just don't get any of these discussions.

I like the way Miers handled herself after she was nominated and another interview.

Most of the discussion seems to be about professing loyalty to their kind of thinking, whoever is posting against her.

If she has preconceived opinions isn't that bad? Compare her background with the framers of the Constitution. They certainly seemed to be wiser than most of us today.

Besides, the only reason this is a Christian Country is because of a minister and Chase in the 1860's, right after the Civil War was lost by the south and all those slaves were free to enter society. See the Treasury site about In God We Trust. That was unConstitutional in the first place. Now I'd love someone to discuss with her about the putting of In God We Trust on the currency. I think it was unConstitutional. That was before us females were allowed to vote, before we were considered 100% human by the Constitution.

As for abortion, I'm glad my mom risked her life to have one, illegal in her day, almost lost her life. Else, I wouldn't be writing this, I'd never exist. It's either my egg or that other one. Of course, y'all probably answer, that's a good reason to be anti-abortion :)

Posted by: ethel saltz | October 12, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

It's time to stop making excuses for the massive and overwhelming failures and "missteps" (or as we call them coming from the Red House and the Bush Wrecking Krewe.

The lack of ethics, honor, truth, and other qualities so evidently missing in neo-conservatism is what's dooming this lackluster Gang of Five-Year Planners that everyone keeps apologizing for.

Just admit it: Emperor Bush has neither any clothes nor the sense to do anything about the oncoming floods and devestations.

Will Affleck-Asch

Posted by: Will Affleck-Asch | October 12, 2005 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The Deconstruction of George W. Bush - The Harriet Miers Factor

Insecure people tend to isolate themselves when they are under attack. Second to the isolation is the seeking of comfort through that which is familiar - - familiarity is the solace for our feelings of inadequacy- hence Harriet Miers. George W. Bush's entire life has been that of a sheltered boy being defended by his mother, and now his mother surrogate Karl Rove. This is not an attack - it is an unfortunate reality.

George W. Bush never learned to be his own man. The question is, why? In one of the few private moments coming from George's mother Barbara we learned that George struggled in school. George over the years has overcome many challenges she would say. Some might say what challenge does a rich kid have to overcome? Poor educators do not discriminate based on wealth. I would submit George W. Bush was the victim of an education system which continues to teach to the middle while ignoring everyone who does not learn as so does the middle.

George W. Bush is like that root-beer float with vanilla ice cream. We just love how it looks and taste, we know it is bad for us, but we come and eat it anyway knowing we will regret it later. Restated, we know that there is something nice about this guy, but too much of this guy can be bad for us. So what makes George so bad for the people?

First, let there be no mistake George W. Bush has his moments when he trusts in himself and does the right thing - these moments are few and far in between. However, during these moments, surprising intellect appears to shine through the fence shielding George from his reality. I have suspected for some time that George W. Bush was made to feel inadequate by his teachers because he learned in a way other than how they taught.

Today we know millions of America children over the last 200 plus years have been left behind not because they are of lesser intelligence, but because the teachers taught to the middle, thereby leaving the brightest to fail or feel inadequate and the slower students to just slip through the cracks. Based on the periodic glimmers of intellect which shine through that protective picket fence, I believe George falls into the former group - the brightest being left to fail and feel inadequate.

It is that sense of inadequacy which best describes George W. Bush today. His administration failing at all levels, record deficits, a disastrous war, Karl Rove (his mother surrogate) under attack, the Republican leadership failing at every turn - George turned to that which is familiar - Harriet Miers- It is what we do when we are curling-up in fear because we feel inadequate - familiarity is the solace for our feelings of inadequacy.

This is how Bush works - he rewards those who he most trusts, and digs in when he feels most threatened. This is the only explanation for the Miers nomination at a time his administration is suffering from claims of chronyism . His administration is at its lowest point and George being the insecure man that he is found solace in turning to that which he found familiar - his longtime personal attorney - Harriet Miers.

Unfortunately for George Bush, trust for a friend does not mean loyalty by that friend. Harriet knows she is not qualified to sit on the high court, but that will not stop her. Her failure to decline the nomination is an example of just how disloyal some of these people really are. Would a loyal trustworthy friend put the President through such turmoil at this time? The answer is no. Harriet is no friend to George.

George Bush is like that needy date we have all suffered, ready to get married and have 3.5 children on the first date. From the moment George Bush likes a person he clings on to them - this is his addiction - an addiction which enables George Bush to continue to feel uncertain of himself. George you did not solve your drug and alcohol problem you just replaced it with misguided trust for those you will use your good will to promote an agenda which goes against the interests of the American people

George W. Bush still has time to save his administration and win the war in Iraq - thereby dealing a near death blow to those how hide behind Islam to justify their anger. It is time for Barbara and/or her surrogates to let go and allow George to become the man he is. George is not the type person who can manage by allowing his cabinet to run the government. George is too subject to being the victim of misguided loyalty. It is time he has confidence in himself and lead from the Oval Office.

George does this by dismissing Rumsfeld and turning the war over to the generals. He does this by sending Al Gonzales back to Texas. He does this by calling Harriet Miers and saying thank-you for your service but I have decided to go in a different direction. He does this by calling for a joint session of Congress wherein he demands that they redraw the Transportation Bill without the pork, and that they create a tax increase for the 10% of wage earners in the United States. If they will not act, he should shut down the government such as Bill Clinton did, the clear precursor to budget surpluses.

We all remember the father's "No New Taxes" pledge. At this time this President has nothing left to loose. Sending the budget deficit in the right direction will only serve to help the Republicans in the mid-term election. On the tax issues the President can justify the increase on two simple points [1] the dangerously increased dependence the United States has on borrowing from China, and ; [2] by calling the tax increase the "Benefit of the Bargain Tax Increase."

The top 10% of the wage earners have the most to loose if we loose in Iraq- with the most to loose why should they not have to pay more to support a war which at the end of the day brings them the most financial benefit. The Benefit of the Bargain Tax Increase will be hailed as fiscally sound, and in the interest of our national security.

Mr. President if in the interest of national security you can spend the American people into record deficits, then why can you not tax the top 10% of wage earners in the interest of national security? - China and the war in Iraq are both issues of national security.

Mr. President, ask your father about the great sacrifices We the People made during WWII. In the mode of FDR it is time you call on the top 10% of wage earners and demand they pay for the Benefit of the Bargain Tax Increase. It is the American thing to do in a time of war.

Finally, Mr. President it is time you be your own man. Trust in yourself instead of those who seek to use your good will for their own advancement. Is it not better your presidency be judged on the real you than the insecure you. If Harriet Miers were truly loyal would she have declined your offer rather than subject you to yet another criticism of chronyism?

Mr. President, a good teacher does not tell you the answer to the question. A good teacher uses the metacognitive process to help you discover the answer based on you own set of reserved knowledge and sense of morality. Mr. President, I am confident that if you seek to surround yourself with good teachers you will blossom and prove all along you were not the problem - it was the teachers - and in the case of our Presidency it is your cabinet. The power of change is in your hands. Your failure to exercise this change will put accountability in your hands and not in the hands of your cabinet.

Mr. President, if you cannot be yourself who can you be?

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
October 12, 2005

Posted by: BobbyWC | October 12, 2005 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Harriet Miers will be an underqualified religious conservative who will follow the rulings by Scalia and Thomas. She lacks the background or experience to create her own opinions on cases that will be presented to the court. For all intents and purposes, she will be a conservative clone.

Posted by: James | October 12, 2005 12:14 PM | Report abuse

My mother always had a handy answer when I had the nerve to question her wisdom... "It's because I said so". Hubris requires no other explanation than that.

Posted by: Jenny from AZ | October 12, 2005 12:11 PM | Report abuse

My problem with her nomination isn't really about ideology, but rather her lack of qualifications. I still haven't heard a coherent explanation as to why she is the most qualified choice the President had available.

Posted by: Adam | October 12, 2005 11:46 AM | Report abuse

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