Giving encouragement to paralegals and self-styled jailhouse lawyers everywhere, SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers visited the Senate today and stood beaming with Minority Leader Harry Reid as he back-handedly commended the President for nominating someone other than the usual judicial scholars. Reid lauded Miers' ability to handle interrogatories. So? I’ve answered interrogatories on behalf of the non-profit corporation on which I serve as Director. He spoke appreciatively of her lack of experience as a Supreme Court clerk. Hey, my lack of experience is so substantial that even Ted Kennedy would approve.
And I’m only 49, one year younger than Chief Justice Roberts, whose Reagan-era White House Legal Counsel documents I recently analyzed. As Bill Murray said in Groundhog Day, “I’m really close on this one.” Today Dick Cheney was all over talk radio, promising Rush Limbaugh “you'll find when we look back ten years from now that it will have been a great appointment.” Pick me, George, and I guarantee immediate satisfaction. I mean Senator George Allen, the true conservative from Virginia. I’m not wasting any more of my precious hopes on the lame duck George.
Obviously, it’s pointless for anyone to aspire to a potential third Supreme Court vacancy. Alberto Gonzales is holding that I.O.U. I actually wondered more than once today whether Bush was thinking, “You conservatives won’t let me have Al? Fine, but you’ll be sorry.” Like many loyal Republicans, I spent most of 2004 working hard for Bush’s re-election, losing sleep and praying – not enough to earn his gratitude, apparently, much less a fantasy slot on his list of nominees. Whatever Bush was thinking when he selected a 60-year-old judicial enigma, he was either oblivious or indifferent to the turmoil that his announcement was sure to generate within his political base. Well, right back atcha, W.
This was a defining act for Bush, his Bill Buckner moment that changes everything. Conservatives expected him to nominate a constitutional heavyweight to advance the culture of strict construction. That is why we supported him and he knew it, which makes this squandered opportunity all the more inexplicable. It was only the second or third down and he punted.
On tonight’s Hannity and Colmes, Mary Matalin sought to reassure conservatives by stating that Bush has not let us down. The Miers compromise is not Chicken George’s first, merely the latest. He has ducked other important fights before. He has consistently supported “moderate” Congressional incumbents over their conservative challengers. He has abdicated his leadership on critical issues like Social Security, immigration, spending and now the avian flu. But he was my Commander in Chief in the global war on terror and I held my tongue. I was faithful to the unspoken terms of our deal, but Bush strayed once too often. My reservoir of good feeling has sprung too many leaks and I don’t give a dam.
When the President let his Press Secretary throw Bill Bennett to the media wolves last week, I took it personally. Dr. William J. Bennett was a compassionate conservative long before Bush introduced the phrase into the popular lexicon. During the morally and politically dismal 1990s, he was one of the few and most effective defenders of Ronald Reagan, conservative principles and public ethics. Any fair and honest examination of his record reveals a lifelong commitment to justice and opportunity for all. Any fair and honest examination of his so-called “controversial” conversation with a caller uncovers theoretical speculation about the use and misuse of statistical evidence and nothing more. Most of the criticism misrepresents the facts and is intended to silence one of our last guardians of the Reagan legacy. Thank God, Bill Bennett will not hold his tongue and neither will I.
Dr. James Dobson, among others, was trotted out to attest to the spirituality and goodness of Harriet Miers. That would be appropriate if we were appointing an elder of the church. Antonin Scalia might agree that those characteristics serve him well, but they are not the reason President Reagan nominated him nor why he has been one of the most brilliant, distinguished Supreme Court Justices in our history.
Harriet Miers is more than a disappointing nominee who wasn’t even a Reaganite. She is the empty bag of promises that conservatives are doomed to keep holding if we continue to make unrealistic bargains with faux conservatives. I wonder how Rudy Giuliani is sleeping tonight.