Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bush Takes A Mulligan

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the SCOTUS.

I wish this was disappointing news. It isn't.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think Miers deserved to have to go through this. On the other hand, I don't think she deserved to be put in the position to be the lightning rod. I think the nomination let us all down. I hope President Bush shows more domestic resolve this time around.

Many will say that this unnecessarily hurt Bush's presidency. I agree that it hurt his presidency. I disagree that it was unnecessary. Prior speeches given by Miers released yesterday may have been the coffin nails. They showed a person who would charicaturize pro-lifers, believed in quotas and thought judicial activism was an apporpriate response to "lazy legislatures." This was not the speech of a judicial conservative.

President Bush's people did not do the necessary background check. Besides, when a fight is necessary, wouldn't it make more sense to pick the fight with your enemies rather than your friends?

President Bush is not a person who should ask for trust. Not on domestic issues. Not on judicial nominees. Not given his Surpeme Court litigation record.

I supported Bush's reelection, but only because of the WOT. I want a relatively known comodity with this pick. President Clinton gave the country known comodities. Did anyone ever doubt Ginsberg's and Breyer's judicial leanings? Of course not. President Bush should to the same. It was, after all, a focus of his reelection campaign.

You got your "do over" President Bush.

Whacha gonna do with it?

Some advice I'm sure Presdient Bush doesn't want: Pick someone who has dealt with constitutional issues as either a lawyer, a judge, or both. Pick someone who is already known for his or her conservative judicial philosophy. Pick someone who is younger than 60. Pick someone who is extremely capable of teaching while speaking.

And for goodness sakes, be a conservative and pick someone without regard to race, gender or nationality. If reports are true that some of the first choices (presumably women) turned down the job, then pick the best man. Don't pick a woman for the sake of picking a woman. That was how we got Janet Reno -- Clinton's third pick for AG (all women, because he wanted to make history, I mean herstory.)


At 11:22 AM, Blogger Pile OnĀ® said...

I blame Morgan Ensberg for this whole mess with Miers.

At 11:35 AM, Blogger spd rdr said...

I blame Gilligan.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

I don't think Miers deserved to have to go through this. On the other hand, I don't think she deserved to be put in the position to be the lightning rod.

I am, frankly, amazed to hear you say KJ.

She was his White House Counsel. It was her job was to vet nominees for the bench. What you all have been saying all along is that she was pathetically, OBVIOUSLY unqualified. If that is so, then NO ONE was better placed to know that than Harriet Miers herself. IT WAS HER JOB, NOT ONLY TO ASSESS THE NOMINEE'S CHANCES OF SUCCESS, BUT TO PROTECT HER BOSS.

The SINGLE strongest argument to be made against her nomination was that she accepted it in the first place, if indeed she was unqualified, as you allege, because that makes her either incompetent or unprincipled, as well as underqualified professionally.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger KJ said...

Well, fair enough Cass.

I think she has had a glorious legal career. We should all be so lucky to be as "unaccomplished" as she is.

I also think any lawyer would find it difficult to say no to that job, so I don't fault her unless she actually pushed herself to Bush for the job.

I assumed, with no knowledge either way, that she did not. This seems to be Bush's thing -- hiring someone to do a search, then offering the position to the searcher.

I'm not sure of her role in all this, though she would be in the best position to know about her own speeches and positions. Of course, she might have hoped some things would be undiscovered. Who wouldn't want that job.

If you would prefer that I "pile on" Miers, I could do that. I don't see the point. She still has a job to do, and I hope she does it well. My problem on this has always been with Bush, and if Miers is in fact responsible for putting Bush in this position, then I'll blame her too when I know that. But certainly someone else did the vetting for Miers, and not Miers herself.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

KJ, in any executive position, ESPECIALLY one at that level, you get the thousand yard stare fast. It starts happening in the military at about the level of Lt. Col - WAY below what the President of the US has to handle. That is why you have advisors.

It is absolutely ludicrous to think that any one person can possibly command that level of detail. Her job was to look out for him. And to suggest that any other person that Miers would know more about Miers is also ludicrous.

She was in a better position to "vet" herself than anyone else - to assess her own weaknesses. She had an affirmative duty to come forward with any weaknesses. To suggest, as you have that "anyone would want that job" and "she may have hoped something wouldn't come out" is to suggest that it is OK to be self-serving and dishonest.

I ain't buying it. This is public service, not the board of Exxon.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger KJ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger portia said...

We should all be so lucky to be as "unaccomplished" as she is. . Heh:)

I'm sorry, no matter how honorable or principled you are, you can't vet yourself. Miers was recommended by Andy Card, and was vetted by William K. Kelley, the deputy White House counsel who had been appointed to his post a month before. Card and Kelley and two weeks of background checks--behind Miers back--does not a "vet" make.

As John Fund wrote in "How She Slipped Through": "Regardless of whether or not the vetting process was complete, it presented impossible conflicts of interest. Consider the position that Mr. Bush and Mr. Card put Mr. Kelley in. He would be a leading candidate to become White House counsel if Ms. Miers was promoted. He had an interest in not going against his earlier recommendation of her for the Supreme Court, or in angering President Bush, Ms. Miers's close friend."

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

I didn't mean she should literally vet herself. That is preposterous, besides presenting obvious conflict of interest problems even if it weren't against a million government regs. I meant that as the head of the committee who vets nominees she was well aware of the requirements and would therefore be better able to assess her OWN record than anyone else.

Therefore, since it is HER JOB to protect her boss and look out for his best interests, she should have turned the job down no matter how vigorously she was urged to accept it. And it would be HER JOB to point out to the person who WAS vetting her, any flaws in her record that could embarrass the President, ESPECIALLY since she already had expertise in this area and was extremely familiar both with her own record and with the process a nominee would have to go through.

This isn't rocket science. You all are putting it on the top dog to look out for the minor staffers. You have it exactly wrong. It is *their job* to look out for him. That is what they get paid for.

At 6:06 PM, Blogger KJ said...

I never said Bush didn't vet her properly. That was clearly a subordinate's task. I do think Bush made the political decision to go with her, which was my complaint the whole time. I also don't think it is fair to be too hard to an accomplished attorney who has a president asking you to be a SCOTUS justice b/c the justice didn't say - "oh no, I'm just not worthy." I don't care what her "job" is. She may be a Christian, but she isn't Jesus Christ.

At 6:24 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

I don't know. I disagree KJ.

When you get to that level and you're asked to take on a job like that, the first thing you should ask yourself is, "Can I do it?".

If the answer is no, you should, in all honor, refuse.

Likewise, if an appointment places you in a conflict of interest position, you should resign. In a very real sense, this appointment did exactly that. Both my husband and I saw it that way, and we think very differently, but that hit us both smack in the forehead right off the bat, and that really strikes me, because as I said, we rarely agree on anything.

Maybe it's because if there is one thing we do share, it's a very strong sense of duty, and that seems to be something that is rapidly becoming outmoded.

From whom much is given, much is asked, KJ. In other words, pardon my Phrench, but dammitall, by the time you rise to a certain level, you should be conscious of your duty. Not just what you can get or how high you can rise, but what you owe. What the hell ever happened to the concept of civic virtue? Did it go out with Plato?

And Portia, my wording was a bit strong in my previous comment. It was not aimed at you personally. I hate typing - you can't hear my 'tone of voice'. I feel strongly about this. I am not at all angry. I feel this situation ended rightly, as it should have. But there is a principle involved, about which I do feel quite strongly, and it does upset me a great deal sometimes if I feel like I'm not getting my point across, and then sometimes I get a little too free with the adjectives.

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

And it wasn't a question, necessarily of "I'm not worthy". It was a question of "my appointment is going to leave you politically vulnerable Mr. President and I can't let you do that for x, y, and z reasons. As your Counsel, I formally advise you not to do this and I will not accept the apppointment. Period. End of story."

At 8:22 PM, Blogger KJ said...

Well, Cass, there are political adviser and lawyers. They aren't always the same person. I'll bet her political radar may not be as attuned as Roberts was when he worked for Reagan. She may have been there for the legal advice, not the political advice.

But it is all speculation. I am sure she saw herself, probably rightly so, as capable of doing the job. She wasn't capable of the political battle.

I mean, our Veep had the same situation.

Your criticism has merit. I don't see it so critically. I guess I'm just the softie.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

Shoot KJ. I'm a former housewife with a BS degree. I raised children for 18 years and worked with my hands. She has more formal education and experience in politics than I will ever have - everything I know is from 30 years of watching people. And from reading history books - this stuff was going on in ancient Rome. But this just doesn't seem all that complicated.

You know (I know) that this isn't my only theory. I would prefer to think the other. But it troubles me. And either way, if I'm right, and I may not be, we loused it up.

My bias is, and has always been, that there is a reason we have a process. It's tedious, but things get worked out. When you try to short-circuit it, you do violence to your principles more often than not. I think that happened this time, though I'm very pleased she put an end to it and stepped down. Good on her.


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