Monday, October 3, 2005

Harriet Miers and the Supremes

By Mitchell


Reading the instant reaction to President Bush’s pick of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court this morning, there’s a tendency to take a certain amount of satisfaction in the evident dismay that many Bush supporters are showing. I don’t want to take it too far because that’s a self-defeating attitude – after all, ultimately we all want a better Supreme Court. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to have that little smile this morning.

The conservative Bush supporters are a little bummed out this morning. They’re looking at a lot of things, such as the judges Bush could have appointed (Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown) and past contributions Miers has made to Democrats (including Al Gore in 1988), and they’re feeling kind of lost, as if they just couldn’t see this coming. If they really think they were blindsided, perhaps it was because they refused to look in the mirror, to face the facts.

These Bush supporters have been called Pandoras, wishful thinkers, people wearing rose-colored glasses. Getting down to brass tacks, many of them have been accused of selling out their conservative principles and putting their faith in the Republican Party. Some, like Kathryn Lopez at NRO, are called Bush apologists, her "hunky President" humor wearing thin very, very quickly. Others, such as Rick Santorum, are viewed as sellouts, supporting pro-choice Republicans in return for unspecified political favors, singing the praises of the yet-to-be-realized good that a Republican majority could accomplish. Many of them are seen as being able to rationalize almost anything the president does, to try to convince themselves it’s not so bad after all; and methinks they protest too much, their spin doctoring sounding like so much whistling in the dark.

A lot of this is anecdotal and colloquial commentary on my part, rather than hard analysis. And Harriet Miers could yet turn out to be one of the great conservative Supreme Court justices of all time. But there’s going to be a real temptation for conservatives to say "I told you so" this morning. Now, I’ve supported Bush frequently over the past five-plus years. For the most part I believe him to be a man of integrity, certainly more so than his predecessor. And yet I don’t consider him a conservative, not by any means. Not when you look at his skyrocketing spending, his refusal to deal with the immigration problem, his "compassionate conservatism" stitck, his original stem-cell decision, his unwillingness to use the veto – well, that’s just the start. I think the best you can do is classify him as a moderate, and I never cease to be amazed at the amount of vitriol being engendered by leftists over a man whom many conservatives would not exactly rush to defend. As a matter of fact, I’d wager that much of Bush’s conservative support has come in direct reaction to the rhetoric employed by his opponents. They don’t realize how good they could have it, if they’d only shut up!

One of the reasons so many of us have left the Republican party over the years is the opinion that conservatives are being marginalized, that we're being taken for granted – after all, the party hierarchy seems to say, where else are you going to go? The answer, for some, is "home" – out of politics and back to things they consider more important. Others continue to hang on, with a kind of na├»ve hope that looks a lot like kids on Christmas Eve waiting to here Santa’s footsteps on the rooftop. If they don’t start getting some satisfaction from Bush soon, one wonders how long they’ll continue to wait. And then there are those who seem to have gone native, deciding to take a seat at the negotiating table rather than a seat at the table of Christ’s banquet.

We know all about the arguments in favor of a stealth Supreme Court nominee, that it may be the only way to win confirmation from a body comprised of energized Democrats and undisciplined Republicans. Unfortunately, if we know what it means to be Borked, we also know what it means to be Soutered. And if the president is going to play this silly game instead of standing up and fighting for principle (which he’s been quite good at, the few times he’s tried it), the least he could do is give his supporters a wink-and-a-nudge, to keep their spirits up. Instead, as Mark Levin writes this morning, "we already know what's going on here …. Miers was chosen for two reasons and two reasons alone: 1. she's a she; 2. she's a long-time Bush friend."

As I say, the jury's still out on this (no pun intended), and I don't intend to make any judgement on the choice (no pun intended there either). After all, the last thing we need is yet another uneducated opinion floating out there. And yet, as I said, it's really hard not to watch this with a kind of detached amusement. One writer wondered if K-Lo was finally going to wake up and smell the coffee. For her, the early returns are not good, and the fact that Democrats such as Harry Reid appear to be pleased is making her feel even more apprehensive. She wants to believe she says, but even clicking her heels three times might not be enough this time. And if Miers turns out not to be a stealth Bork, she says, "people like Rick Santorum are going to be the most demoralized in the coming months."

So much for the advantages of that Republican majority, huh? Well, Rick and K-Lo, now you know how the rest of us feel.

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