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Miers Withdraws: Who Will Bush Pick Next?

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Well, I’ve got mixed feelings about this. I don’t think that Miers was really qualified to be on the Court. Even if she was, she was certainly not the most qualified. Purely in terms of the principle that Supreme Court nominations should be based on intellect, this is a positive development.

Previously, in my post Policy Versus Principle, I said that I supported Miers because she would not be an ideologue who would try and go on some culture war vendetta, that consideration for me outweighing her lack of qualification.

The question now is how much pressure Bush will feel from the social right wingers to nominate someone more clearly opposed to abortion and the constellation of issues surrounding it. Josh Marshall had this to say:

Despite the thunderings on the right, this nomination didn’t go down because it had so many enemies or because those enemies were so strong. It went down because the nomination never found any reliable bank of defenders. She had no allies. And the White House was too enfeebled to create them.

The problem for the president — aside from the imminent forced rearrangement of personnel — is that each group that took a bite out of Miers will feel empowered. And those groups are so multifarious that the president’s freedom of maneuver will be significantly curtailed.

Marshall says that the President is now going to be forced to choose someone that the right will see as a home-run, but I’m not sure that that’s really the case. Bush has to pick someone that will satisfy everyone at once. He’s hemmed in.

For the past several years, support of any Bush initiative has been the default, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. With ‘trust’ in Bush evaporating, politicians must reflect the change in public sentiment and also become more skeptical. The unity in the Republican party that formed behind Bush has fractured; the ‘Group of 14’ and Bill Frist’s stem cell split being two examples of fissures with the executive branch.

The only reason that most people on the right wanted Miers gone was because they weren’t sure of her credentials as a social conservative. The only reason that they were able to get her gone was because she also seemed less than qualified. Everyone could find a reason to at least not support her.

With the Republican party less united, and ‘good government’ type moderate elements like McCain and friends gaining in power, the Republicans simple majority becomes less simple, and the Democrats bargaining power increases.

Bush is going to want to slink out of this mess with as little noise as possible, and to do that he’ll have to find someone that he can be darn sure of getting solid Republican support on. Someone that’s not too moderate for the fundies, and not too fundy for the moderates. And also someone that’s accomplished enough in Constitutional law that they won’t upset those in the Senate that actually care about accomplishment. Really, what he needs is another John Roberts. Is there another one out there? I’m not seeing any that are likely to glide through the way Roberts did. Probably conflict is inevitable. We’ll see what happens when Bush throws down his next hand.

Whereas in the past Bush could count on the united Republicans in the House and Senate slamming his policies through, now he has to do coalition building. He’s never had to put up with that before. How well he does at it will determine the success of the rest of his Presidency. My guess: he’s not going to be exactly spectacular at it. He’s becoming too isolated; there’s too much group-think going on over in the West Wing, and Bush isn’t likely to be the one to break the cocoon.

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  • Baronius

    Miers may have been the last stealth candidate. It’s been demonstrated (a) that meager credentials suggest unqualification, and (b) that people will not fight to protect an unknown. But experience becomes an issue as most sitting judges were Clinton appointees.

    So maybe a Solicitor General. Let’s find a non-controversial one: Olson, who represented Bush in Bush v Gore; Starr; Bork;…

    And law professors are risky, because they write a lot of papers and argue both sides of every issue in class. High risk for dangerous sound bites.

    I guess I have no suggestions.

  • Cunning Linguist

    Hopefully bush will pick Janice Rogers Brwon and the whole nation will get to watch as the Dems show their true colors and call her an uncle tom.