Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Penultimate thoughts on Miers

At this point it seems quite possible that the Miers’ nomination may go down in flames. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

There have, however, been some bad things about the conservative backlash to her nomination. Conservative pundits were caught off guard. This is a little odd since her name was one of the names floated by the White House before Bush’s formal announcement. So it shouldn’t have been all that surprising. Apparently, pundits didn’t take that seriously, which was a mistake.

When Gonzales’ name was floated, they shot it down. That’s much better than having a public brawl after-the-fact. One reason the White House leaks a name is to test the political waters.

And because the pundits were caught off guard, they didn’t have a prepared statement. So their immediate reaction was to cast about and cobble together any stray objection that first came to mind. This took on a rather opportunistic appearance—seizing on a whole host of miscellaneous criticisms which were not especially conservative or consistent. Moreover, the attack took a form which is almost sure to make a man like Bush dig in his heels.

And one is still puzzled by the intensity of the opposition. My pet theory is that while there are valid reservations regarding the Miers’ nomination, this is, in some measure, a proxy for pent-up frustrations over other deficiencies of White House policy.

The right-wing is prepared, after a certain amount of grumbling under-its-breath, to give Bush a pass on some issues it cares about—such as vouchers, border control, and deficient spending—as long as it gets something in return. But when he fails to deliver on an issue like high court nominees, then not only does that particular issue rankle the base, but they no longer have that consolation prize to offset all their other resentments. So they snap under the cumulative weight of their many pet peeves.

This is understandable and, to some extent, justifiable, but given the befuddlement of the White House at the insurrection within party ranks, it wouldn’t hurt to send a clearer signal. Otherwise, the overreaction to Miers seems out of proportion to the provocation, and leaves the White House without clear guidance.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, you are one of the rare bloggers to pick up on the strangest part of all this, and it is even stranger than you know, believe me. From someone very close to the process, indeed someone who has been a talking head about judicial nomination politics on the cable networks, though not as often as most, I can tell you that Miers was floated last summer for the slot Roberts took, and then, as her questionaire discloses, she asked not to be considered.

    Frum even wrote a short piece on his blog about her being an outside possibility-- and did not say one thing negative about her. Neither did anyone else. In fact. my friend who was in touch with many of the activist groups on life issues, learned for the first time that Miers had run on a very strong anti-abortion platform in her race for City Council by a representative of Phyliss Schafly's Eagle Forum who was a very enthusiastic supporter after talking to their Texas people. The Eagle Forum is now fighting her nomination.

    There has been more double dealing and back flipping over this than you will ever find out. However this turns out, there will be behind the scenes score settling for years.