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I guess the President has really stepped in it this time. This time, fellow conservatives are the ones who are unhappy. As the old saying goes, “with friends like these, who needs anemone’s?

Over the past few weeks, as the Miers nomination debate continued to heat up, with the vast majority of major conservative voices expressing their desire to see the nomination pulled, I have, for the most part, stood on the sidelines. That won’t change today.

That said, I do want to make a couple of observations.

First of all, I do personally believe that Ms. Mier’s nomination was a mistake. I have no doubt that she is an honest, intelligent, over-achiever who has distinguished herself in her career. You look at her resume, and you know that much for sure.

I don’t think that we should care as much that Ms. Miers is likely an evangelical Christian who is likely staunchly pro-life. I am an evangelical Christian who is staunchly pro-life too. Should I be nominated for the “Associate Justice” position?

Okay, you can stop laughing now; that was a rhetorical question.

And the fact is, the majority of Christians I think want someone who is both a judicial conservative AND over-qualified for the job of Associate Justice. We don’t want JUST one of our own, we first want someone like a Janice Rodgers-Brown who we are certain will impress the nation during her confirmation hearings and go into the role as a justice who has already distinguished herself and whom we know can influence her peers.

Long story short; conservatives in general and conservative Christians in particular want a judicial conservative, not necssarily an evangelical Christian, to take his or her place on the bench. We want the right person for the job, and there are just too many other awesome candidates out there for us to be happy with an unknown like Miers.

Secondarily; over the past few weeks, while watching the media coverage of this story, it struck me as very odd that liberal voices and opinions are being almost completely ignored by the MSM right now. We have a wall of silence when it comes to liberal/Democratic opinions regarding this nomination. To me, this is very telling.

Why would the mainstream media NOT give their traditional blanket coverage to Democrats and/or liberals on a topic of such import?

I think it’s because some liberals in the MSM are hoping that this is the beginning of a giant rift between the President and his die-hard supporters, both in alternative media as well as among mainstream conservatives. By covering this rift in detail, some of them may also be hoping to accentuate it and, perhaps, make it seem as if the Republican Party is experiencing a Katrina-like crisis.

More on this point in a minute.

The liberal silence may also later allow liberals and/or Democrats, if Ms. Mier’s nomination is pulled or she is not successfully confirmed, to then say to the public, “see, this is what conservatives do to career women; marginalize them, if not actively discriminate against them. Remember this as you vote in 2006; Republicans are narrow-minded.” Would such a charge stick? I doubt it, but liberals do love this kind of rhetoric.

Okay, back to the current Miers debate. To me, the real fascination is that this kind of heated debated is taking place at all among conservatives.

And I’ve found myself reacting (depending on the day) in a couple of different ways:

  • At times, it gets to bee too much. Hours of talk show hosts discussing every greulling detail, with experts calling in to debate each other and the host. After a while, I just have to turn music on to tune it all out.
  • Overall, I’m very encouraged by the quality and tone of the debate.

You see, I’m one who believes in healthy debate; and the debate over Ms. Mier’s nomination is, on the whole, a very healthy one. We’ve needed this kind of debate for some time now and thank goodness we are finally having it! We need to figure out where we are going to draw that line between loyalty to one person, our President, and our principles.

President Bush obviously is a human being, not the Pope. Let’s not be surprised when he presents us with human qualities that may lead him to a decision with which we disagree. And this debate is a great one to have. Long overdue if you ask me.

This is nothing less than democracy in action… So why is everyone worried (or elated, depending on your political affiliation) about a possible rift in the GOP? This process is partly about the need to remind our elected officials that they are… well… elected officials! The other element here is simply the ongoing dialogue that conservatives have long valued so as to generate ideas, discuss differences, and promote unity. Sometimes the best way to a resolution is to have a good, healthy argument.

And that is what you are seeing now.

Republicans in Congress, as well as the administration, should understand that conservatives are ready and willing, even eager, for a major confirmation fight in support of the right nominee. So ready, in fact, that they are willing to touch off a major debate within their own party to get to the real fight with liberals in congress and the special interest groups which support and influence them.

We are more than ready for a big fight over judicial reform. We’ve been waiting for this fight to occur for at least the last couple of decades.

This in-house debate is just a warm-up for the real fight we’ve been long seeking with liberals. Republicans in Washington should feel very confident that we are behind them when it comes to bringing a well-known, highly qualified candidate to the nomination process. No matter how much money liberal special interest groups spend to marginalize the Janice Rodgers-Brown’s of the world, conservatives will continue to support their efforts. We want nothing less than a true judicial conservative appointed as the next Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.

David Flanagan

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  • kuros

    blah blah blah
    she’s a crony!!!

    Harriet Miers: Can She Write a Clear Court Decision? Can We Confirm a Ghost Writer?

    David Brooks asks a very good question about Harriet Miers in his New York Times column this morning: Can Harriet Miers write a lucid Court decision?

    Did Bush ask for a writing example? Did he ask Laura to review it?

    While I think it’s useful to have fundamentalists and establishment Republicans divide over Harrier Miers, her appointment is still not a net gain for the nation. If she has difficulty writing and communicating her positions on important judicial decisions (perhaps we could get her a legaleze ghost writer?!), she won’t be perceived as a force of her own but rather as a stooge of the President, even after he has left office.

    Brooks offers tidbits of her fuzzy, uncompelling prose:

    Of all the words written about Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the early 90’s, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called ”President’s Opinion” for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn’t even rise to the level of pedestrian.

    Of course, we have to make allowances for the fact that the first job of any association president is to not offend her members. Still, nothing excuses sentences like this:

    ”More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems.”

    Or this: ”We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism.”

    Or this: ”When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved.”

    Or passages like this: ”An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin.”

    Or, finally, this: ”We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective. Achieving the necessary understanding and appreciation of why the challenge is so important, we can then turn to the task of providing the much needed support.”

    I don’t know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers’s prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided.

    It’s not that Miers didn’t attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things.

    Maybe a soccer mom type is the right choice for the next slot on the Supreme Court, but there seem to be numerous people out there who are not part of the “judicial monastery” but can still communicate their views in a way that adds to rather than blurs America’s legal infrastructure.

    — Steve Clemons
    08:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)
    October 12, 2005
    Chastened Proponents of the Iraq War Huddle Together

    This Financial Times article is a must read.

    Those whose expectations have been “dashed” and who played such a pivotal role in directing America’s armies to invade Iraq need to be held accountable for their recklessness. It’s not enough to lament and say, after the fact, that things didn’t go well. “It’s too bad. We miscalculated.”

    Not enough — particularly given the vile way that those who raised principled concerns and questions about the Iraq War were treated.

    Those who feared the current outcome — like TWN — were depicted by some as unpatriotic, as not “believing” in American righteousness in this battle. Humility among those who led this crusade is welcome, but serious minds should deal with why it was practically impossible to have a fair and informed discussion that included those who favored and those who opposed Bush administration policy in the months leading up to the invasion.

    Like Judith Miller, many of these enthusiasts who did not recognize that America might stumble badly in this encounter, are responsible for the outcome — for America showing its limits — and the diminished state of America’s perceived position in the world.

    An excerpt:

    Over the past week, two of Washington’s most influential conservative think-tanks, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held conferences on Iraq where the mood among speakers, including Iraqi officials, was decidedly sombre.

    Kanan Makiya, an outspoken proponent of the war who is documenting the horrors of the Saddam regime in his Iraq Memory Foundation, opened the AEI meeting by admitting to many “dashed dreams”.

    He said he and other opposition figures had seriously underestimated the powers of ethnic and sectarian self-interest, as well as the survivability of the “constantly morphing and flexible” Ba’ath party. He also blamed the Bush administration for poor planning and committing too few troops.

    The proposed constitution, to be taken to a referendum on Saturday, was a “profoundly destabilising document” that could “deal a death blow” to Iraq, he said.

    The constitution was a recipe for greater chaos, said Rend Rahim, a former exile who had been designated as Iraq’s first postwar ambassador to the US. Unless revised, it would lead to such a devolution of power that the central government would barely exist, she said.

    Qubad Talabani, Washington representative of the Kurdistan regional government, delivered a stinging indictment of the central government that echoed the growing divisions in the ruling alliance of Shia and Kurds.

    Danielle Pletka, senior analyst at AEI and conference moderator, called the constitution deeply flawed, describing it as the result of political machinations between Iraqis and Americans. She said the process had been reduced to a benchmark for the exit of US troops.

    I’m glad that AEI and Heritage are holding such conferences — but make sure that some of the families of soldiers killed and wounded as well as family members of innocents killed in Iraq are there to hear the introspective commentary of those who gambled American prestige and blood (of Americans and Iraqis) without a reasonable road map for success.

  • David, I have bad news for you here. A ‘true judicial conservative’ is quite likely to support Roe v. Wade in perpetuity. Not only is there the established law issue, which most judicial conservtives believe in, but there’s also the constitutional right to privacy which most judicial conservatives also believe in, and which is the basis of the Roe v. Wade decision.

    When those on the far right start talking about a ‘true judicial conservative’ what they are usually actually asking for is a jurist who is a social conservative activist who will legislate from the bench, someone who will break with precedent and override the constitution in order to implement changes in established law to support socially conservative positions. In fact, exactly the same kind of justice the far left wants, but with a different agenda.

    IMO that’s not what we need on the supreme court. We need real judicial conservatives who will rule based on precedent and the constitution and not based on ideology. We already have a couple of those from the left on the court, and balancing them out with equally biased justices from the right is not the answer.


  • We need real judicial conservatives who will rule based on precedent and the constitution and not based on ideology. We already have a couple of those from the left on the court, and balancing them out with equally biased justices from the right is not the answer.

    Some might argue that we already have a couple of those from the right on the court as well.

  • Nancy

    One might also point out that it’s the REPUBLICANS (i.e. Laura Bush & others) who have been commenting about sexism against Meirs. No “liberals” have said a word about that. They didn’t get a chance. Rumor has it Laura made that comment in order to protest those who have been dissing the Boy Blunder’s choice of butt-kissing crony, & to try to shore up hubbie’s choice (or hers? who knows?). To my mind, anyone who thinks Georgie W. is “the most brilliant man I’ve ever met” is either such a brownie s/he is morally bankrupt or an idiot. Even Laura isn’t that blind & partial.

  • MCH

    Personally, I have no opinion either way of Miers. But I agree with Nancy, re…when she made the GW Bush being “the most brilliant man she’d ever met” comment, I laughed so hard, I got a side-ache and almost needed oxygen.

  • Hmmm… Interesting comments. Let me respond to some of them:

    ->I have no problem with Cronyism. Democrats and Republicans use it all the time, and they’ve done so for as long as I can remember. Clinton was an enthusiastic supporter of this himelf, thus, he supported and promoted his wife’s campaign to become a Senator and has already begun campaigning for his wife’s 2008 presidential bid. Yet I hear no complaints from anyone in the media. Why is this suddenly such a big issue?
    ->I agree that a true judicial conservative might well uphold Roe v Wade because of the existence of court precedent. Then again, if the whole thing was faulty from the get-go, they might not.
    ->There is no doubt that there are already judicial conservatives who sit on the Supreme Court at this time.
    ->Laura Bush’s comment, as well as the comment made to GOP congressman and woman during a closed-door meeting that there was a “whiff” of sexism and elitism coming from those who opposed the Miers nomination was silly, to say the least. Bad judgement from the administration and, yes, perhaps anger from the First Lady who was defending her husband. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

    Overall, my post here is not to discuss anything other than the fact that this intra-party debate among Republicans regarding the Harriet Miers nomination is a GOOD thing. Personally, I don’t like the fact that Miers was promoted as an evangelical christian before some of the other more important characteristics important in a Supreme Court nominee. Peggy Noonan said it best. Here is her comment regarding this issue:

    And next time perhaps the White House, in announcing and presenting the arguments for a new nominee to the high court, will remember a certain tradition with regard to how we do it in America. We don’t say, “We’ve nominated Joe because he’s a Catholic!” A better and more traditional approach is, “Nominee Joe is a longtime practitioner of the law with considerable experience, impressive credentials, and a lively and penetrating intellect. Any questions? Yes, he is a member of the Catholic church. Any other questions?”

    That’s sort of how we do it. We put the horse and then the cart. The arguments for the person and then the facts attendant to the person. You don’t say, “Vote for this gal because she’s an Evangelical!” That shows a carelessness, an inability to think it through, to strategize, to respectfully approach serious facts–failings that, if they weren’t typical of the White House the past few months, might be called downright sexist.

    Thanks everyone for your comments.


  • Debate is ALWAYS a good thing. I’d be far more worried about a nominee that everyone unconditionally agreed upon than one who is controversial; a person who makes everybody happy is a person who works too hard at making everybody happy to take a stand on their own principles.

    That said, I also have no opinion either way on Harriet Miers, and the reason for that is the one that’s so often discussed right now: I don’t feel I have enough information about her from which to form an opinion. What ARE her principles? What IS her level of constitutional scholarship and expertise? I’m not interested in whether Bush or Harry Reid or James Dobson endorse her: I want to hear what she has to say.

    So I’m looking forward to the confirmation hearings.

  • Appointing cronies to the supreme court simply hasn’t worked well in the past. The clearest examples are Truman’s four appointees: Sherman Minton, Tom Clark, Fred Vinson, and Harold Burton. Never heard of any of these? There’s a good reason: he appointed the other four guys from his Tuesday night card game. To paraphrase the great Dukakis, it’s not about ideology, it’s about competence.

  • The ‘great’ Dukakis? Come again?

    As for the four Truman nominees you mention, have you ever heard anything bad about them? Only a few members of the court have stood out over the years, either for being remarkably good and influencing others or remarkably awful. Most justices are not legal revolutionaries. They’re there to maintain the status quo, not to innovate, and that’s the job for someone solid and reliable.

    Think back. Of the hundreds of justices how many can you name prior to your own lifetime? Here’s my list:

    John Jay
    John Marshall
    Salmon P. Chase
    Roger Taney
    William H. Taft
    Louis Brandeis
    Oliver Wendell Holmes
    Charles Evans Hughes

    The only others I can name off the top of my head were on the court while I was alive – and I taught history for 20 years. Every single one of these famous justices was either chief justice of famous for something else, like being president or a famous writer or secretary of state or something.

    The point being that most justices are nonentities from start to finish. It’s not a flashy job and it requires reliability and competence more than brilliance. In fact, too many brilliant justices can lead to all sorts of problems on the court.


  • Dave, I get the feeling you’re just following me around this site and gainsaying whatever I say at this point, which is fine. In fact, you’re fun to have around because you’re always paying attention at least.

    I was joking about Dukakis being great although I’ve always thought he was right on the money with that competence/ideology line.

    You may have taught history for 20 years, but you’re obviously not a lawyer whereas I am. I think you’re out of your league on this one. You may not know this, but one spends three years in law school just reading opinions many of these by the Supreme Court. Consequently one learns a lot about various Supreme Court justices. The list you put forward doesn’t even include many of the recent greats.
    The Truman appointees are generally considered non-entities if not complete failures. If you don’t believe me, check out the widely respected 1978 study by Blaustein and Mersky entitled The First One Hundred Justices. That list ranks all justices serving on the Court from 1789 until 1969 based on the opinions of judges and legal scholars. In so doing, they grouped the justices into five categories: great (12 justices), near great (15), average (55), below average (6), and failures (8). This study ranked Burton, Vinson and Minton as failures. Clark was rated average. In other words Truman, by himself, appointed 3 out of the 8 failures over the first 180 years of the court. That’s a remarkable record.

    You want to debate anything else Dave.

  • David,

    Nice tongue-in cheek post. The title alone is worthy of some kind of recognition.

    Anyway, Bush’s nomination of Miers is further proof that he’s off the wagon. He must have been knocking back Jim (Beam) and reading over her sweet notes to him and thought, “Let’s give this gal a shot.” And not of Jim either.

    The funny part is she will be confirmed, despite her lack of qualifications.

  • Bill B

    I think Ms. Noonan has it 100% wrong. This was a refreshing taste of the truth, no matter how ridiculously arrived at. It’s like a peak behind the scenes. I’m waiting for someone to say “did I just say ‘support her, she’s an evangelical’ out loud?”

    It’s just an example of the level of pandering the white house has seen fit to stoop to so as to rally support.

    Also, can anyone say “religious litmus test?” I knew that you could.

    The debate on the right further exhibits the need for true traditional conservatives to tell the social conservatives to go and start their own party. This won’t happen since they’d fear losing at the polls, but in time they’d gain from the middle, possibly more than they’d lose, and those pesky religious rightys would be where they belong: Marginalized by themselves.

  • MCH

    The Fifth Dentist – 1,
    Dave Nalle – 0.

  • >>You may have taught history for 20 years, but you’re obviously not a lawyer whereas I am. I think you’re out of your league on this one. You may not know this, but one spends three years in law school just reading opinions many of these by the Supreme Court.< < I'm fully aware of that, 5D. I'm not a lawyer, but I am more than a little familiar with the legal and judicial history of this country. >> Consequently one learns a lot about various Supreme Court justices. The list you put forward doesn’t even include many of the recent greats.< < If you actually read what I wrote, I specifically left out anyone who was on the court in my lifetime, which includes a lot of good justices. My point was that of the hundreds of justices of our first century and a half only a handful are well remembered even by those who are relatively informed. The point being that most justices are relative non-entitities. >>The Truman appointees are generally considered non-entities if not complete failures. If you don’t believe me,<< I never argued with you on that point. I'm sure Truman's appointees were terrible. They still took part successfully in enormously important decisions, or had they all died by 1954? All I'm saying here is that all of the justices on the court don't have to be extraordinary. Look at Ginsberg, Souter and Stevens. One's marginally insane, one seems somewhat dazed and confused and the third basically has nothing to say. The more dynamic figures on the court usually drive its actions, and I think a reasonable argument can be made that having a few lackluster justices who are just there as additional votes without stirring things up is part of the balance that makes a good court work. Dave