Time to Triangulate
Posted by Dan Draney on October 20, 2005
The confirmation of Harriet Miers may require Clintonian-like “triangulation” on the part of GWB and company. There are apparently, based on the Roberts confirmation, 22 deadend Senate Democrats who will vote against anyone appointed by President Bush. While there are 55 Republicans, it’s by no means clear at this point that even a majority of them will vote to confirm Miers. If there are more than 5 Republican defectors, some moderate Democrats will be needed. This is assuming she makes it out of committee to the full Senate.
The problem is that anything Miers and the administration do or say to attract Democrats risks alienating more Republicans and vice versa. For example, we doubt that bringing up Miers’ religious faith persuaded anyone to vote for her. We don’t hold her faith against her, but it is no argument for her appointment either. Liberal attempts to make Roberts’ Catholicism into a constitutionally-prohibited religious test were properly decried by conservatives. Trying to make a religious argument for Miers’ confirmation makes the previous, principled complaints seem merely partisan.
So the question is whether to attempt to appeal more to the center or the right. Attempting to do both at once will not persuade either group to confirm. One factor in Miers’ favor is the Just Say No Left has been hesitating:
Conservative Split Could Give Democrats Key to Miers Vote: “Jim Jordan, a former presidential campaign manager for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), agrees that Democrats will have plenty of reasons to oppose Miers, but he said some worry that Bush might replace her with a more forceful and effective conservative. ‘Even though she’s undoubtedly a mediocrity,’ he said, ‘philosophically she’s probably the best they [Democrats] can do.'”
It takes a special level of arrogance for a former John Kerry presidential campaign manager to call someone else “a mediocrity.” However, Jordan should know a mediocrity when he sees one. He’s right that a defeat of Miers might prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Left if the President appoints a Janice Rogers Brown or a Ted Olson next.
It’s hard to imagine this coming down to a filibuster. The conservative senators would be legitimizing the tactic if they were to join a filibuster with liberals on this nomination. The judicial filibuster would be with us forever, if they did.
Robert Bork had a column in today’s Wall Street Journal:
OpinionJournal – Featured Article: “With a single stroke–the nomination of Harriet Miers–the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That’s not a bad day’s work–for liberals.
There is, to say the least, a heavy presumption that Ms. Miers, though undoubtedly possessed of many sterling qualities, is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. It is not just that she has no known experience with constitutional law and no known opinions on judicial philosophy. It is worse than that. As president of the Texas Bar Association, she wrote columns for the association’s journal. David Brooks of the New York Times examined those columns. He reports, with supporting examples, that the quality of her thought and writing demonstrates absolutely no ‘ability to write clearly and argue incisively.’
The administration’s defense of the nomination is pathetic: Ms. Miers was a bar association president (a nonqualification for anyone familiar with the bureaucratic service that leads to such presidencies); she shares Mr. Bush’s judicial philosophy (which seems to consist of bromides about ‘strict construction’ and the like); and she is, as an evangelical Christian, deeply religious. That last, along with her contributions to pro-life causes, is designed to suggest that she does not like Roe v. Wade, though it certainly does not necessarily mean that she would vote to overturn that constitutional travesty.”
If the Miers nomination does fail, we think Bork would make an excellent nominee. We don’t suppose this column helped his prospects, though.