Skip to comments.Fred Barnes: Rebuilding (On the Miers Withdrawl and New Nominee)
Posted on 10/27/2005 10:22:22 AM PDT by RWR8189
President Bush can move forward by being bold and uniting both congressional Republicans and his political base.
THE WITHDRAWAL of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is the first step on the road to political recovery for President Bush. It gives him the opportunity to select a well-known judicial conservative for the Court vacancy, rally conservatives who opposed or were skeptical of Miers, and rebuild his political base.
Winning confirmation won't be easy. Democrats already have their story down: Bush capitulated to the far right in jettisoning Miers and his new nominee will be a right-wing extremist. My guess is Democrats will stick to this narrative no matter whom the president chooses from the roster of a dozen or more conservatives with strong credentials and deep experience in constitutional law.
But a fight would be good for Bush. Battling for a highly qualified nominee, this time with conservatives on his side, would hasten the consolidation of his base. And if he's going to accomplish anything significant in the three-plus years left in his second term, he needs his base. He'll also have Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist with him enthusiastically--and prepared to impose the "nuclear option" to shut off a Democratic filibuster if necessary.
Once a new nominee is confirmed, the next steps for Bush are fairly obvious. Some of them are set in place. The first is to champion spending cuts beyond the $35 billion he proposed to slash from his 2006 budget. The second is to hold down spending on the Katrina recovery. The good news is that Katrina funds previously appropriated are being used up at a slower pace than expected.
Then there's immigration, an issue on which the president and his base are at odds. Yet a compromise wouldn't be impossible, if Bush agreed to tougher security on the southern border with double or triple the number of border guards and conservatives agreed to lighten up on illegal immigrants already living in the United States. By avoiding harsh treatment of Mexican immigrants here, Republicans could avert a backlash from Hispanic-Americans, a voting bloc of growing importance.
Bush's strength as president is based on three things: his penchant for bold leadership, Republican control of Congress, and his political base of an overlapping group of Republicans and conservatives. To govern effectively, he needs all three.
If he has them, he'll able to overcome a major bump in the path to recovery that may occur Friday: the indictment of White House aides Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the CIA leak case.
The president got into trouble with conservatives by not being bold in picking a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Bush wanted a woman and chose one--Miers--whom he figured wouldn't provoke a major confirmation struggle in the Senate. He sought to avoid a fight, an unusual tack for him, by not selecting a certifiable conservative such as Priscilla Owen, who is a U.S. appeals court judge.
But not only were Republican senators lukewarm (at best) on Miers, Democrats were bound to jump on her when hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee began November 7. It might have ugly.
Miers and the White House used as the excuse for withdrawal that the Senate was demanding documents from her work as presidential legal counselor and, earlier, as staff secretary and deputy chief of staff. Since these couldn't be handed over--they'd jeopardize confidentiality--she had to withdraw.
True, this was a problem. But a bigger problem was the possibility of embarrassment at the hearings for both Miers and Bush, followed by Senate rejection. Even sympathetic senators who met with Miers worried she might not be able to discuss constitutional law and specific cases with confidence and credibility. Moreover, though the president insisted she'd be a reliable judicial conservative on the high court, recent press reports of statements she'd made in the 1990s raised serious questions about that.
A week ago, senators who met with Bush at the White House said he was so adamant about sticking with Miers that he'd say no if she asked to have her nomination withdrawn. Since then, however, public support for her failed to materialize. The anti-Miers drumbeat by conservatives continued and Republican senators remained wary.
How will this affect the Supreme Court? Chances are the successor to O'Conner will now be the real thing, a justice with unequivocally conservative leanings who tilts the ideological balance of the court to the right. Whether Miers would have had the same impact we'll never know.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
If you doubt the degree of the left's fear of JRB, check out some of their sites today. Interesting new tactic though..People for American Way and Save Our Courts websites are obviously made by the same designer. Content is also nearly identical.
At least NOW, who uses the same recycled character assassination, has the decency to hire their own web designer. I keep thinking of two hairy legged, left-ette web designers sitting in their "life-partner" pad thinking of new names for anti-JRB sites. Maybe we'll find out the entire left is the same person? Or maybe Teddy Kennedy (the other white meat) ate the entire moderate left movement? Anyone seen Joe Lieberman lately????
Fred Barnes--Yet another Kool aid drinking Bushbot. (sarcasm)
JRB is too much of a risk as it took so much to get her to the appellate court.
Word is that the front runner is McConnell
It sounds like Fred is projecting but I hope it is true.
First question is whether Bush is still hellbent on naming a woman.
I'll once again make my darkhorse pitch for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The left would look like the bullies they are trying to beat up a man in a wheelchair.
Hasn't Rush been saying this for weeks, and didn't his Wall Street Journal op-ed say most of this?
I read that Alito was narrowly passed over for Miers. Perhaps it will be him.
He would be a wonderful pick.
His nickname around the Beltway is Scalito.
McConnell would be awesome....esp obviously on the much muddled religion issues. The leftist academy also was very nice to him in his first confirmation, I think, so what are they gonna do now? This would be good.
I have been big on Abbott since I first heard about him. he has judicial experience at the trial court level (very unique) on Tx Supremes, and, interestingly, he has been elected to the exec branch...something which no one on scotus can claim at the moment. So he has the bona fides while also bringing something new to the table. He's also fearless, deeply conservative, and has a sincere Christian faith. He's attractive, smart and mildmannered. He also argued and won the Texas decalogue case in front of SCOTUS. He would cause the left to freak, but, let them go ahead and do so. I think we could actually win that battle.
Oh noooooooooooo, it might have been ugly.
What's it been till now Fred?
I think the bigger battle to win is for conservatives to pull together again.
I am pleasantly surprised by this turn of events and sincerely hope the president now appoints someone with a proven conservative track record. I also agree this is an opportunity to reunite the party. Let there be no doubt, the Republican leadership is out of touch with a large portion of their base. Yet, they really do need us, the "extreme right wing," to get elected. I expect the Dems to support their base, and they rarely disappoint. So why are we wrong to expect our leaders to support us? Do our senators and representatives actually expect to win reelection by appealing to Dems?
Great tagline, prairiebreeze! But one exception might be Zell ;-)
"History will show . . . the radical right wing drove this nomination right out of town" -- Harry Reid
Boy oh boy, this is going to be even more fun to watch than the Miers lynching.
Wonder how successfully Democrats will be at using the radical right's rhetoric against the next nominee?
Can't wait for the fun to begin. Hurry up! Hurry up! Name somebody! Quick!
[[Word is that the front runner is McConnell.]]
Whomever is putting out that word is not tuned in, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I like McConnell, but smart money says it will be a woman or a Hispanic. And, no, that Hispanic will not be Gonzalez. I am leaning towards a Hispanic, he has insinuated in the past that he wanted as part of his legacy to be the one who put the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. I like Garza, but I think Estrada is the best choice he could make with an eye on the big picture of the battle that looms ahead. The democrats past filibuster and the judicial memos on Estrada give us more ammunition to fight democrats with, as well as his feel good story providing great PR. The question being whether Bush can convince Estrada to accept and go through the process again. I think it can be done if he assures Estrada that he believes in him and he will fight hard for him.
Being split will only cost the congress in 2006 and potentially the WH in 08. You can think what you want, way too many Americans vote not on issues, but with their pocketbooks. Even if the president has little control over oil and gas prices, he will get the blame and the elections are where it will be felt.
The CIA scandal mess may influence some, but will be blown over by time the elections come around, especially if the president distances himself from those accused.
Americans educated in government indoctrination camps (public schools) will only remember the 30-second sound bite last night or the recent headline on the front of the scandal rags called newspapers. Few will know the details, or even bother to read the details, those that can actually read above the 3d grade level. Therefore, they will assume all are guilty, the president is at fault for all the worlds ills, democrats will fill their pockets with money for doing nothing but voting for them, etc. So, yes, the president does need to bring the conservative base back together. If it is splintered in November as badly as it is now, loss of the congress is very possible.