Saturday, October 08, 2005

OP ED: Dems in a pickle over Miers nomination

Despite all the apprehension on the right, President Bush has outmaneuvered the liberal Democrats with a brilliant double nomination strategy for the two overlapping vacancies of the Supreme Court.

In appointing the brilliant and super qualified Chief Justice Roberts, Bush was able to trump the Democrat’s ideological concerns with superior qualifications. This resulted in the approval of a Chief Justice as conservative as anyone the President could have chosen. With Roberts, Bush left the Senate Democrats with little to work with (or against, in this case).

In his second nomination, Bush selected a person not easily targeted as an extreme right winger. This time the Democrats are not trumped by intellect or constitutional track record, but by a confusing lack of information. The very fact that Harriet Miers is not only without a clear conservative record, but even has some "liberal" indicators in her long resume, is putting off the Democrats more than scaring the hard line conservatives.

Miers’ donation to Al Gore, and the support of some narrow gay issues, has many of my fellow conservatives armed and on standby -- and a few in full assault. In risking some conservative consternation, Bush has adroitly put the left in full disarray. The likes of Jesse Jackson are taking on the usual, and predictable, "shock and dismay" attitude. That would be the case for any appointment short of Jesse's son – and even then, the reverend would probably be suspicious of his offspring.

Senate Leader Harry Ried, however, has all but endorsed the appointment -- even taking some credit for the recommendation. Liberal as he may be, Ried is a pro life Democrat, so the litmus issue is not of great concern to him. That attack on Miers as intellectually and experientially deficient is spurious. It is coming from the strident left, as part of their package of criticisms, from judicial elitist, such as Robert Bork, who bifurcate society between their ivy-covered peers and the poor uneducated masses. Miers is as qualified as many of those who went on to great Supreme Court careers.

Oddly, this is an appointment the Democrats could defeat. If they were unified in opposition, there are enough wary Republicans to force her out of contention. Without an unbroken line of Democrat opponents, however, many wavering Republican senators will find it safer to go along with the President and the Senate leadership. Of course, the Democrats are not foolish. If they were to expend their political capital to defeat this woman candidate, they would be less likely to defeat the next, or the third, if that were to be the case. And they fully understand that the next appointments would not be fraught with doubt. They would be front line conservatives. For the Democrats, and especially for the major asses, such as Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer (alluding to their party’s donkey symbol, of course), the hope in the unknown Miers is better than the certainty of those others on Bush’s short list.

Liberal America must now recognize that they have been out foxed, out flanked, out classed, out done --- and now are outside the judicial halls. They know that the "new" Court is going to be far more conservative than the old. They were not wrong to mortally fear the potential of a President George Bush in the shaping of the senior courts. Upon confirmation of the next justice, Miers or not, the battle is won by the political right. If there should be another appointment for Bush, the seminal victory will be a generational rout.

As far as her "evolution" on the Court -- the great fear of many conservatives -- I take heart and hope in the fact that as the freshman justice, she will be “evolving” under the leadership of the solidly conservative and highly persuasive Chief Justice Roberts. For all his conservative leanings, the late Chief Justice Rehnquist can best be described as the “head” of the Supreme Court, not its “leader.” Historically, he may have been among the least persuasive Chief Justices in bringing colleagues to his view.

I believe Miers will be confirmed, since the Democrats do not seem to have even a winning strategy to be implemented. And, I suspect that Justice Miers will be mostly the conservative we all hope her to be. We may not like each and every vote. But on the matter of strictly interpreting the Constitution as opposed to legislating from the bench, I think she is there -- and will stay there.

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