Why Did Bush Do It?
party loyalty asks too much," said JFK.
In asking conservatives
to support Harriet Miers, prior to full Judiciary Committee hearings,
George W. Bush asks too much.
Trust me, Bush is
saying. Trust but verify, they should reply.
For as of today,
there is no evidence Harriet Miers possesses the judicial philosophy,
strength of intellect, firmness of conviction or deep understanding
of the gravity of the matters on which her vote would be decisive
to be confirmed as associate justice of the Supreme Court.
If she does not exhibit
these qualities in testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Harriet
Miers should be rejected. That she is a woman, a good lawyer,
a trusted friend of the Bush family, and a born-again Republican
and evangelical Christian is not enough. That Dr. James Dobson
has been secretly assured by Karl Rove she is pro-life is not
After all, we have
a president who professes to be "pro-life," yet cannot
bring himself to say that Roe v. Wade was an abomination he hopes
will go the way of Dred Scott.
Because of the immense
damage the Supreme Court has done to our society over 50 years,
seizing upon and dictating on issues beyond its constitutional
province, imposing a social revolution from above, tearing our
country apart over race, religion and morality, conservatives
cannot take any more risks. We are too close, now, to the promised
After Nixon named
Blackmun, Ford named Stevens, Reagan gave us the malleable O'Connor
and Tony Kennedy, and Bush's father gave us that textbook turncoat
Souter, presidential assurances are not enough. We must hear from
Harriet Miers herself of her judicial philosophy and views of
what the court has done and should do.
Why did Bush do it?
Is he unaware of the history or savagery of this struggle? Does
he not understand the cruciality of this one court appointment
to conservatives who vaulted him to the nomination over John McCain
and gave him the presidency twice? Does he not care?
Since the Goldwater
and Nixon campaigns of the 1960s, a great philosophical struggle
over the Supreme Court has been waged. In that 40-year war, jurists
like Clement Haynesworth and Robert Bork have been pilloried,
smeared and rejected by a liberal Senate that realizes the stakes.
Others, like Clarence
Thomas, have survived brutal scourging. Brilliant young lawyers
and aspiring judges like Miguel Estrada have even been denied
a vote for the appellate court because of liberal fears they may
have the stuff of another Scalia.
Yet now we are told
by the White House that Harriet Miers is an ideal candidate because
she "has no paper trial." But what does that mean, other
than that Miers has never declared herself with courage and conviction
on any of the great issues from 1965 to 2005?
This is now a qualification
for the U.S. Supreme Court? To have been AWOL in the great social
and moral conflicts of her time? This is like saying the ideal
candidate to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff is an officer who
has never seen combat or suffered a wound.
There are today third-generation
conservatives who have bravely defended their beliefs in hostile
law schools, clerked for Supreme Court justices, paid their dues
in the White House or the Department of Justice, joined the Federalist
Society, and advanced by excellence and merit to federal judgeships.
The message of the Miers appointment to this generation is: You
made a mistake. You left a "paper trail." Is this the
message we want to send to the next generation: Don't let anybody
know where you stand on gay rights, affirmative action or Roe
Is this what conservatism
has come to? By the standard of "no paper trail," we
would never have nominated Scalia or Bork, or elected Ronald Reagan,
who with his thousands of radio and TV commentaries had the longest
paper trail in American history.
In claiming Miers
is the most qualified person he knows to fill the seat of Sandra
Day O'Connor, President Bush tells us more about himself than
her. If she is truly that qualified, why did he hide this extraordinary
talent in the paper-shuffling job of White House staff secretary?
Why was she not named his first White House counsel, instead of
Alberto Gonzales? Why was she not nominated to the U.S. Appellate
Court for the District of Columbia to give her judicial experience?
If she is that good, why did Bush pass her over for John Roberts?
after he picked his personal lawyer for the Supreme Court, George
Bush was in the Rose Garden trying to put out the firestorm he
had ignited in his own base camp. How's that for political brilliance?
His aides are now
demanding that Republican senators and conservatives rally around
their president. They should not. They should tell the president,
respectfully, that though he went with Harry Reid, they will stay
with their convictions.
It's stand-up time
again, as in the days of old.
2005 Creators Syndicate