Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Miers Nomination

Like many, I'm none too pleased with Bush's less-than-inspired nomination of Harriet Miers to serve on the Supreme Court. While she surely has an impressive background, it seems to me she doesn't come anywhere close to approximating the standard set by John Roberts, and this is very discouraging.

My overarching problem with this nomination is that Bush's relatively weak political standing apparently locked him into nominating a woman or minority. So Bush gave priority to quotas over qualifications. Great. And as George Will suggested yesterday, it's likely that Miers wasn't even the most qualified female / minority conservative candidate:

If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers' name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

He then goes on to argue that the placement of "representativeness" over qualifications would seem to undercut a central tenet of conservatism.

Under the rubric of ``diversity'' -- nowadays, the first refuge of intellectually disreputable impulses -- the president announced, surely without fathoming the implications, his belief in identity politics and its tawdry corollary, the idea of categorical representation. Identity politics holds that one's essential attributes are genetic, biological, ethnic or chromosomal -- that one's nature and understanding are decisively shaped by race, ethnicity or gender. Categorical representation holds that the interests of a group can only be understood, empathized with and represented by a member of that group. The crowning absurdity of the president's wallowing in such nonsense is the obvious assumption that the Supreme Court is, like a legislature, an institution of representation. This from a president who, introducing Miers, deplored judges who ``legislate from the bench.''

Moreover, it also appears that Bush's relatively weak position locked him into nominating a candidate that the Democrats wouldn't reject out of hand, as a more identifiable conservative with a paper-trail could have. And based upon what I have read, a number of Roberts-type individuals were out there--they just happened to be men or happened to raise the dander of Democratic Senators.

So Bush's commitment to quotas and submission to the Democrat smell test has now left him with a candidate that will be attacked by the right for not being an inspired choice or an ideological conservative. Miers will also be attacked by the left for not having a background as a judge and for being a Bush flunky (a charge, that to me, seems quite reasonable). Meanwhile, she'll be attacked by both parties for not being anything like John Roberts.

I'm not sure I agree with Will about the fact that she should be rejected. I'm willing to hear how she does in the confirmation hearings, but politically, Bush has done it again. He's mangled a key decision. Not only do we appear to be getting a less-than-magnificent Justice, Bush has also played the politics all wrong. In fact, he's committed precisely the same type of blunder that his father made when he agreed with Democrats to raise taxes. In an effort to pander to his critics (who won't respect him in the morning), he's turned-off his base with a poor decision. Ironically, the avoidance of such a double-whammy has supposedly been one of the driving mantras of this administration. And yet, here we are. As Bill Kristol lamented, this is yet another example of how we are left to wonder just how awful the next three years are going to be. And beyond the politics, shouldn't we expect our best and brightest to be on the leading court in the land?


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