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Conspiracy Theories Dept.: Miss Harriet Miers vs. the Irate Right
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ^ | October 31, 2005 | Editorial

Posted on 10/31/2005 2:06:13 PM PST by quidnunc

A conservative friend and political animal called the other day. This was before Harriet Miers officially became a bit player in the quasi-comedy, quasi-tragedy that Bush administration No. 2 became this past week. In this production, Ms. Miers went from a co-star to bit player in about 30 days. If she had any speaking lines at all, we already can’t remember them.

Anyway, our friend had a question for the Charles Krauthammers, George Wills, Bill Kristols and other card-carrying, TV-appearing members of the Conservative Intelligentsia who formed the popular front against Ms. ex-Nominee.

The question:

So what if Harriet Miers is no Antonin Scalia, or even Clarence Thomas or John Roberts or William Rehnquist, so long as she concurs with them on all the important cases ? Because isn’t this all about just another conservative willing to tilt the inevitable 5-to-4 decision to the right ?

The answer: No one could be sure how Harriet Miers would vote on the court. Supporting her at this early point would have been a matter of faith, not evidence. Besides, here was a chance for both wings of the Republican Party to get all lathered up and start fighting — a chance neither seldom misses.

To quote David Brooks, a columnist who’s also a kind of sociologist of the right for the New York Times: “The Miers nomination has reopened the rift between conservatives and establishment Republicans… . You know you are in establishment Republican circles when the conversation is bland but unifying. You know you are in conservative circles when it is interesting but divisive.” Also, when you start winning elections instead of losing them. The Reagans and George W. Bushes tend to touch something in the excitable American soul that the Thomas E. Deweys and George H. W. Bushes — the party’s me-too standard-bearers — seldom do. Even when real right-wingers like Barry Goldwater lose, big time, it turns out they’ve laid the foundations for a great ideological revival. Maybe it’s because we Americans are such a dynamic people, and so are attracted to where the political action is, right or left.

So if you’re a writer of a certain tweedy, elbow-patches conservative bent like a George Will, a Charles Krauthammer or a Bill Kristol, it’s a no-brainer. You’ll take interesting but divisive politics every day of the week and twice on Meet-the-Press Sundays. Even if it means losing a battle or three. Better some intellectual exercise than a Republicanism that stands only for being soft on the other side.

The country’s political complexion has changed so dramatically over the last half-century that what used to be the right wing’s intramural squabbles now have become the main event in American politics, just as once upon a time it was the Democratic Party where all the action was. (In 1948, remember, Harry Truman had to run not just against Tom Dewey but “progressive” Henry Wallace and Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, too. Now that was ideological fun. )

The most interesting thing about Harriet Miers has been the various and sundry theories surrounding her nomination — during and after, since there was no before. (It was as if Harriet Miers didn’t publicly exist before the president introduced her. ) The interest in Harriet Miers herself was about as high as interest in any other blank slate. There was really no there there to care about.

The day the world first learned about Madame X, a friend proffered three theories as to the, um, thinking behind the president’s out-of-nowhere nomination. They sounded as good as any, and we love a good conspiracy theory. Or three. So allow us to share them:

(1 ) George W. Bush aimed for One Big Thing, and Harriet Miers was just the person for the job. He wanted to make his mark as the president who extricated the abortion issue from the absolutist clutches of Roe v. Wade, with its dubious constitutional basis, and returned it to the state-by-state democratic political process. So all the prez cared about when he chose Ms. Miers for the court was that she’d vote to overturn Roe ; he was indifferent to what else she might do in the larger landscape of constitutional law. And he felt in his heart of hearts that he could count on her to oppose the Dred Scott decision of our time, Roe v. Wade.

According to this theory, W. is crazy like a fox where abortion is concerned but not at all interested in the subtler points of constitutional philosophy — if he’s much aware of them at all.

(2 ) W. and Miss Harriet cooked up an insiders’ deal from the git-go: She’d be a pretend-candidate, a sacrificial lamb. She’d go through the process, bringing about the inevitable, unfair Democratic reaction and filibuster. Then the reaction to such obstructionism would be so intense that the president could appoint another Scalia in her stead. Result: a decisive constitutional victory for the Republican majority.

Such a victory may be in the offing already if the president now nominates a conservative with a solid, public record to take Harriet Miers’ abandoned place. At this point, George W. Bush could unveil his real candidate — an Edith Jones, a Michael Luttig, or some other strong, openly conservative judge like His Honor Michael McConnell — and sit back while his real candidate gets confirmed. Lotsa muss, lotsa fuss, but no filibuster. Plus, he’d have the full-faith backing of the very same Conservative Intelligentsia that opposed him on the Miers nomination, which has been itching for the epic fight with the left it’s wanted — it’s craved — since Robert Bork was borked.

(3 ) Theory No. 3 is that Theory No. 2 is brilliant except for one tiny detail: Ephialtes will always break through. Translation from the Greek: In the end, enough Republican senators will stray off the reservation to deprive the president’s nominee of the needed 50 votes and hand the Democrats a victory. Whether it’s Richard Nixon’s impeachment-in-effect, the Senate trial of Bill Clinton, the Packwood scandal, or the Barney Frank fiasco, one pattern clearly emerges: When it really matters, Republicans won’t stick together and Democrats will. That’s the price the GOP pays for being the party of ideas these days. Ideas tend to differ. Strongly.

Don’t you just love political theories ? They’re a lot like economic theories. They’re seldom totally right or totally wrong. But they’re so much fun to argue. Who knows what was really up with the nomination of Harriet Miers ? Maybe it was simply a case of George W. Bush doing a solid for an old friend. (Although rewarding a bestest buddy with a seat on the Supreme Court is no way to, well, fill a seat on the Supreme Court.)

All we know for sure is that Harriet Miers won’t be the next associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court — and the George Wills, Charles Krauthammers and Bill Kristols will be smiling ear-to-ear on the talk shows. If they can get a word in about what’s now old news after Friday’s indictments were handed up. One political explosion follows another in this administration as quickly as, well, as they did in the last adminstration.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: miers

1 posted on 10/31/2005 2:06:14 PM PST by quidnunc
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To: quidnunc

Let's just get Alito confirmed.


2 posted on 10/31/2005 2:11:54 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero
I guess I'm with theory number 4: IOW theory 3 is correct except that it is a setup, so that they can jam a liberal down our throats anyway, claiming that it's our fault the conservative nomination failed because we don't have 60 conservative votes in the Senate. According to that theory, that's why we got a white male Alito instead of a black female JRB.

We don't want to put those poor McLame RINOs and Democrat "moderates" in a really hard spot, now do we?

3 posted on 10/31/2005 2:43:32 PM PST by Carry_Okie (There are people in power who are REALLY stupid.)
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To: Carry_Okie

"You know you are in conservative circles when it is interesting but divisive.”

Two words: Free Republic.


4 posted on 10/31/2005 2:51:30 PM PST by Scarlet Pimpernel
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To: Carry_Okie

If Alito fails and Bush nominates a liberal or a "compromise" candidate, his base will never go along with it. His Republican predecessors have played that game a few times too often. If Alito fails, let him nominate Brown. If he nominates another Souter, he will destroy the party.

But I have every hope that the President understands the feelings of his base and that Alito will succeed.

The Country Club Republicans have the money, but the conservative base has the votes. Unless the country clubbers are willing to give in on this issue, they are not going to have the power to do the other things they want. Is abortion the bottom line for them, or are they willing to give in on that issue in return for other things that they value more? I hope they will begin to hear the music.

Moreover, President Bush's campaigns have been supported by a lot of small donors, far more than the Democrat candidates who are supposed to represent the party of the people. The Republicans need those small donors and those loyal campaign workers, as well as all those millions of conservative votes.


5 posted on 10/31/2005 2:54:31 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero
But I have every hope that the President understands the feelings of his base and that Alito will succeed.

Hope? Yes. Confidence? Estrada.

6 posted on 10/31/2005 3:01:57 PM PST by Carry_Okie (There are people in power who are REALLY stupid.)
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To: Cicero
>the conservative base has the votes

This is delusion!
Elections aren't won in
Left or Right gutters,

rather they're won in
the wide middle of the road.
Elections are won

by whichever side
convinces undecideds
to decide for them.

After the Senate
'Rats voted straight party line
not to impeach Bill,

undecided types
rebelled against Party votes
and Republicans

took back the White House
and the Senate. It wasn't
this-or-that fringe group.

That kind of thinking
is just self-aggrandizing.
And the bad news is

if the Supreme Court
gets a new judge forced on it
by a Party vote,

come next elections,
Republicans might suffer
the same backlash that

the 'Rats suffered when
they did their Party vote to
keep Bill in office.

7 posted on 10/31/2005 3:35:47 PM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: Cicero

Amen BUMP!


8 posted on 10/31/2005 3:42:03 PM PST by conservativecorner
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To: theFIRMbss

So, you think nominating Alito to the Supreme Court is the moral equivalent of offing Ron Brown and Vince Foster and making out with Monica in the Oval Office?


9 posted on 10/31/2005 4:02:09 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero
>So, you think nominating Alito to the Supreme Court is the moral equivalent of offing Ron Brown and Vince Foster and making out with Monica in the Oval Office?




Wow! When you typed that,
did you put down the joint, or
puff it while typing?

10 posted on 10/31/2005 4:06:34 PM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: Cicero
(2 ) W. and Miss Harriet cooked up an insiders’ deal from the git-go: She’d be a pretend-candidate, a sacrificial lamb. She’d go through the process, bringing about the inevitable, unfair Democratic reaction and filibuster. Then the reaction to such obstructionism would be so intense that the president could appoint another Scalia in her stead. Result: a decisive constitutional victory for the Republican majority.

That theory makes no sense at all. The Democrats could have opposed her on the completely valid and reasonable grounds that she was a lightweight who knew nothing about constitutional law.

11 posted on 10/31/2005 5:56:49 PM PST by Sam the Sham (A conservative party tough on illegal immigration could carry California in 2008)
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To: Sam the Sham

I honestly don't think any of those theories make a bit of sense. The President was careless, and allowed Laura to persuade him to nominate their good friend of many years. On the surface she probably looked good. The problem was that she was never properly vetted.

I think that if Bush had known she had all those negatives in her paper trail, slim though it was, he never would have nominated her. For one thing, it was not a pleasant experience for her; for another, it was damaging to him. He has now recovered, but no one would want to go through such a process, which was very unpleasant for all concerned, except the laughing Democrats.


12 posted on 10/31/2005 6:15:53 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: quidnunc

It's all BS. Bush appointed Miers because he will go to any length to reward a crony. When evidence surfaced that Miers was pro-abortion, Bush went to the mat for her because he would save face even at the risk of undoing all the inroads conservatives have made over the last 25 years. Clearly, the man doesn't give a damn about the Supreme Court.


13 posted on 10/31/2005 6:21:14 PM PST by Holden Magroin
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To: quidnunc

Harriet is so last week.

Let's try to move on. It's nicer when we don't fight. With Alito, there's nothing to fight over.


14 posted on 10/31/2005 7:56:40 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: George W. Bush

Starategery / schardenfreude whatever.....we got Alito and the dims heads are exploding all over town.


15 posted on 10/31/2005 8:08:34 PM PST by spokeshave (A return to unified Democratic government is so unlikely as not to be worth spending time on.)
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To: spokeshave

test test....tag line adjustment incoming....stand by


16 posted on 10/31/2005 8:10:59 PM PST by spokeshave (A return to unified Democratic government is so unlikely as not to be worth considering)
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To: George W. Bush

"Harriet is so last week. Let's try to move on. It's nicer when we don't fight. With Alito, there's nothing to fight over."

AMEN, Mr. President!


17 posted on 10/31/2005 10:43:22 PM PST by LibertarianInExile (ALITO! Nice Call! Lookin' good, Dubya!)
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To: theFIRMbss

You are correct in your assertion that the party might lose if it forces a conservative onto the court.

However, if we don't force a conservative on the Court, we absolutely will lose that seat at the table of 9. If we do force a conservative on the Court, at least we get that seat. We may never get another shot at that seat, so we must pull out all the stops to fill it now. The GOP could still lose the next election either way, so not trying to get the seat on the basis of prognosticating about the effect of getting the seat doesn't make sense.


18 posted on 10/31/2005 10:47:11 PM PST by LibertarianInExile (ALITO! Nice Call! Lookin' good, Dubya!)
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To: quidnunc
To quote David Brooks, a columnist who’s also a kind of sociologist of the right for the New York Times an @ss-peddling quisling and full-time journalistic Judas Iscariot.

Corrected for accuracy of content. :)

19 posted on 11/01/2005 12:29:25 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle ("It'sTime for Republicans to Start Toeing the Conservative Line, NOT the Other Way Around!")
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To: LibertarianInExile
>We may never get another shot at that seat, so we must pull out all the stops to fill it now. The GOP could still lose the next election either way, so not trying to get the seat on the basis of prognosticating about the effect of getting the seat doesn't make sense

That all makes sense, but
what's happening now can't be
just about the seat,

since Miers would have
secured the seat and voted
"properly" or else

Bush never would have
nominated her. Right now
the issue's two fold --

the Supreme Court seat
and what role does the country
perceive the far Right

playing within the
Republican Party. Both
are important but

I think the second
issue, the Lunatic Right,
is more important.

20 posted on 11/01/2005 7:33:18 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: quidnunc

"Who knows what was really up with the nomination of Harriet Miers ?"

She is from Texas. She is a Protestant, Conservative Type. She sounds Southern.

Who was the last Conservative Southern Protestant to sit on SCOTUS ... and had the votes during their tenure to verify it?


21 posted on 11/03/2005 3:10:59 AM PST by gobucks (Blissful Marriage: A result of a worldly husband's transformation into the Word's wife.)
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To: quidnunc

Nevermind ... I'm still just irratated...


22 posted on 11/03/2005 3:11:28 AM PST by gobucks (Blissful Marriage: A result of a worldly husband's transformation into the Word's wife.)
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