God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Monday, October 3, 2005

WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL WITH NO JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE NAMED TO REPLACE O'CONNOR

Reid had personally recommended that Bush consider Miers for nomination, according to several sources familiar with the president’s consultations with individual senators. Of equal importance as the White House maps its confirmation campaign is that the Nevada Democrat had warned Bush that the selection of any of several other contenders could trigger a bruising partisan struggle.


Something about this nomination just doesn't seem right. It's all too neat and tidy. As Prism Warden says: "The whole thing's too shady for words." Michelle Malkin has an excellent roundup of blog-reactions.

David Frum at NRO:

"You can always count on George W. Bush to get the big ones right."

That line or something like it has consoled conservatives during their periodic bursts of unhappiness with this administration. And by and large it has been true. Oh, there were major mistakes, no doubt about that--prescription drugs, steel quotas, and so on--but it was always possible to rationalize those as forced on the president by grim necessity or some prior campaign promise.

The Miers nomination, though, is an unforced error. Unlike the Roberts's nomination, which confirmed the previous balance on the Court, the O'Connor resignation offered an opportunity to change the balance. This is the moment for which the conservative legal movement has been waiting for two decades--two decades in which a generation of conservative legal intellects of the highest ability have moved to the most distinguished heights in the legal profession. On the nation's appellate courts, in legal academia, in private practice, there are dozens and dozens of principled conservative jurists in their 40s and 50s unassailably qualified for the nation's highest court. Yes, democrats might have complained. But if Democrats had gone to war against a Michael Luttig or a Sam Alito or a Michael McConnell, they would have had to fight without weapons. The personal and intellectual excellence of these candidates would have made it obvious that the Democrats' only real principle was a kind of legal Brezhnev doctrine: that the Court's balance must remain forever what it was in the days when Democrats had a majority of the votes in the U.S. Senate. In other words, what we have, we hold. Not a very attractive doctrine, and not very winnable either.

[...]

Post-Katrina, the Bush administration feels politically vulnerable. As the saying goes, it's "reaching out." I am all for reaching out where it is appropriate. I have repeatedly argued--most recently after the November election--that the Bush administration desperately needs to recast its security policy on a more inclusive basis.

But the Supreme Court is exactly the place where the president should draw the line. The Court will be this president's great lasting conservative domestic legacy. He has chosen to put that legacy at risk by using what may well be his last Supreme Court choice to reward a loyal counselor. But this president, any president, has larger loyalties.

And those to whom he owed those loyalties have reason today to be disappointed and alarmed.


It almost seems that Bush is shying away from a fight, and that would be the BEST scenario. The worst of course, is that this is nothing more than political cronyism, rewarding a loyal subject regardless of her qualifications for the job. What's in store for 2006 and 2008? Is this sort of wishy washy leadership from the White House creating an uphill battle for the next two election cycles?

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