Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Some thoughts on Harriet Miers
The most important thing to know about Harriet Miers is that George Bush picked her. I don't know why they let him do it. Maybe the Valerie Plame affair, which should break open this month, has left far wiser heads in the White House distracted. Or maybe George was getting testy because nobody would let him decide anything. But there is something genuinely different about this candidate, and the difference is that George made the decision himself.
No one in the media seems to be making this point out loud. But from the subtly snide remarks I've heard from Righties on the talk shows, I believe they grasp this fact better than many on the Left, and they are genuinely aghast. To be hand-picked by George Bush is the worst recommendation a nominee could receive.
Why do I think the Miers selection is George's handiwork? Foremost because she did not endure the vetting to which John Roberts was subjected. Any number of people had a finger up Roberts' rectum before he was nominated, whereas Miers sprang forth like Minerva from the head of Zeus. Miers, of course, came not from Bush's head but from his gut, which is his principal organ of thought.
Bush's own remarks also confirm this: "I've known Harriet for more than a decade. I know her heart, I know her character." This is similar to "What I have done is understand the type of person she is and the type of judge she will be."
And what type of judge does Bush think she'll be?
Harriet Miers will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislation [sic] from the bench.
That's the official version. But this report makes more sense and is absolutely chilling—
Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, yesterday held a conference call with conservative leaders to address their concerns about Miers. He stressed Bush’s close relationship with Miers and the need to confirm a justice who will not interfere with the administration’s management of the war on terrorism, according to a person who attended the teleconference.
Bush expects Miers to help thwart any efforts to control the Executive Branch by the Congress or the courts. He says he doesn't know what her view on abortion is, and I believe him. The truth is that he doesn't give a damn what her view on abortion is—or gay rights or any other of the hot-button cultural issues the Religious Right lives for. He does, however, care what sort of limits—or even criminal charges—his administration may one day face.
What do I think of Miers? Well, if it's true what right-winger David Frum says, that "[Harriet Miers] once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met," she is either pig-ignorant or a toady of the worst sort. I believe she is the latter, which is what Bush and company are counting on.
Should the Democrats form a coalition with the Right to oppose her? Only if they can stall another appointment until they gain control of the Senate. They can't, so they shouldn't. The nominees on the Right's wish-list could be even more disastrous.
After stating above, without documentation, that the Right appreciates how disastrous it can be to leave anything in George Bush's hands, I was happy to read George Will. In yesterday's column titled "Can This Nomination Be Justified?" Will writes,
.... The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.
He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.
Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments.
In other words, all appearances suggest that Bush was acting on his own.
In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution.1
And they call me radical!? The very wingers who portray themselves as zealous guardians of the Constitution now suggest that not only does the Senate have a right and a duty to vet the President's nominee (which is true, however belatedly they've come to recognize it) but that the President himself doesn't have the right to select his own nominee. Delicious!
George Will then asserts a qualification for Supreme Court appointees nowhere to be found in the Constitution—"constitutional reasoning." Will says that it is—
a talent — a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyer's career. The burden is on Miers to demonstrate such talents, and on senators to compel such a demonstration or reject the nomination.
Isn't it wonderful how the good people on the Right just make it up as they go? They claim that liberals find "rights" in the Constitution that do not exist—a dubious claim, of course. But there can be no doubt that Conservatives invent requirements2 for office-holders that most certainly do not exist under the Constitution.
One thing is known for sure about Harriet Miers: She's a born-again Christian, and it's said she would be the first to serve on the Supreme Court since the 1930s. While that seems somewhat frightening to the Left—for fear of what insults to human rights she might support, among the many reasons—few people appreciate how truly frightening a born-again Christian can be to the larcenous Right. Once her nomination is approved, the only voice to which she'll need to attend is the Voice of God, and on the road to Damascus you never know what God is going to say.
My view of John Roberts (7/24/05)
2Perhaps the best known of these right-wing requirements is that the office-holder be "a person of faith." This is not only not found in the Constitution, it is expressly forbidden by the Constitution. (See Article VI, "... no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.") In any case, Miers satisfies this unconstitutional requirement in spades. [back]