by Rod D. Martin
October 27, 2005
That Harriet Miers is a fine woman was never in doubt. But she proved it today by saving George Bush’s presidency.
Many of us who could not support the Miers nomination — and Vanguard PAC was the first major conservative group in America to come out against it — found ourselves upset with our President in no small measure because of the terrible position into which he’d put Harriet Miers. She is an obviously excellent lawyer, who has served her country well.
But her singular lack of qualification for the particular job under consideration — much like nominating Bill Gates for head plumber, or Alan Greenspan for chief astronaut — subjected her to criticisms no one should have to bear, characterizations of her abilities which even her toughest critics took no joy in expressing, and probably personal hurts we all wish George Bush had had the foresight (indeed, compassion) to shield her from.
He could have had his cake and eaten it too, of course: he could have named her Solicitor General, or appointed her to one of the Courts of Appeals. He has, in fact, done just that for scores of others; and it is those others — men and women who have shown their judicial temperament, who have demonstrated their devotion to the Constitution as the Founding Fathers envisioned it — whom conservatives are demanding now: virtually any among them will do. There was no reason Harriet Miers couldn’t have been one of these.
But she wasn’t. And so the conservative movement rebelled.
Some Miers backers (a small and dwindling number to be sure) attacked us on the ground that “Miers will undoubtedly vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.” This has proven manifestly untrue of course, as evidenced by an early 1990s speech Miers gave to the Executive Women of Dallas, reported here by George Neumayr of The American Spectator.
But either way, the conservative revolt was correct in its thrust. If Miers’ position on abortion is now clouded (and that’s being charitable), this is precisely why a judicial paper trail was so necessary, and why a Presidential “trust me” could never have been good enough. And if her position was plain as day (as the President believed, obviously having never read the Dallas speech), this tells us nothing about how she would come to her decision overturning Roe, and still less about her Constitutional reasoning on the eight billion or so other issues she would have to decide over twenty or more years on the Court. A Miers who would vote against Roe might also vote for Kelo, or any number of other travesties from Lawrence v. Texas to Wickard v. Filburn. The stakes are far to high to “trust” and not also verify.
No conservative wanted to play chicken with the White House. But the fact that they were willing to do so shows that they are not blindly partisan, but rather are quite willing to stand for deeply-held principle in a way Democrats were never willing to do against Clinton. The rank-and-file feels more strongly still: recent polling indicates a rout could be under way in 2006, with betrayed conservatives — folks who voted by record-setting new millions in 2004 chiefly so they could change the Supreme Court — sitting home on their hands, watching countless Republicans go down to defeat: in other words, exactly like their 1996 revolt against Bob Dole.
It does not matter that the President meant to betray no one, because in their eyes, on this most important of all points, the President didn’t deliver. And many millions of them feel betrayed whether they actually were or not.
The President now has an historic second chance, a shot at turning everything around. Any of two dozen replacement nominees will send thrills through the conservative movement; everyone can and should kiss and make up. The real battle will then lie ahead with the powerless minority Left, a battle they will fight with phenomenal sound and fury, which will ultimately signify nothing. And the President can and will change the direction of the Court for a generation, righting the wrong done to Robert Bork (and America) a generation ago.
The strength and unity which comes from this could easily propel a relaunched domestic agenda, as well as significant gains — not losses — in November 2006. It could literally change everything.
It could have done more still if the President had named Janice Rogers Brown in the first place.
But that’s yesterday. Today, Harriet Miers saved George W. Bush, and with him America. And we should all praise her, and then immediately move on to the far greater business immediately at hand.