Sunday, October 9

Harriet Miers and the current political climate

Since Jaq took me to task for saying I was OK with the Miers nomination, I was inspired to do some more research and give a fuller account of my thinking.

You're fine with a Supreme Court nominee with no judicial experience at all

Yep, like many SCOTUS justices before her.

With no written record of legal thinking that isn't sealed off by Executive privilege

You're exaggerating, Jaq. The woman has a 35 year legal career. In addition to that, as the Dallas Morning News notes, she's served on a major city council, in state government, led a big law firm and local and state bar associations. There are written records in there, though not 'judicial opinions'. Though her White House work is sealed, it's very good experience. We have a non-ivory tower nominee here, and I say that's a good thing.

On what basis can you possibly be fine with Harriet Miers?

Trying to establish this...

Do you really think the President couldn't find someone better?

Is that really the point? Define 'someone better'? Based on what criteria? There are, I'm sure, hundreds, if not thousands, of qualified nominees.

Now, departing from Jaq's objections while answering them more fully and filling out my position here:

+ First, I'll go ahead and quote Tom's entire post on this subject.

To me, this choice is great. I love the idea of the non-judge (though she's still a lawyer) and the politico. That sort of homogeneity is just plain wrong for an institution as important as the Supreme Court. No more weirdo, life-led-in-a-legal-cocoon types.

So Miers is a Bush loyalist. Big deal! He's supposed to pick people he doesn't like, doesn't know, doesn't trust?

In combination (Roberts and Miers), the Dems cannot complain about these picks. America does just fine.

+ Somewhat relatedly, I think the Dems should be pretty happy. The arch-conservatives wanted Bush to ramrod a card-carrying conservative through, to start a philosophical battle to 'energize' their political base for elections. The President didn't so that. He actually consulted with the Democrats who encouraged him to pick a woman and a non-judge. Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has to come to Miers' aid, along with other Democrats, saying the conservatives are sexist, that this woman was the head of the Texas Bar Association and led a major law firm. In the Miers nomination I think the President was trying to be more politically consultative, and that's a good thing. I applaud it, in fact.

+ My own Senator, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, says let's hear what she has to say, and I agree with him.

+ On to the political environment: Democrats should also be happy with the Miers nomination because, along with everything else challenging the Bush presidency, it is further dividing Republicans. The Democrats don't have to lift a finger. They get everything they want, including a probably moderate judge who has been germane to things like gay rights in the past. The Democrats only need six seats to control the Senate. But can they actually get their act together enough to win them? I doubt it. They've been massively politically dysfunctional for the last 8 years, but I hope so because it would make for a tougher political environment that would hopefully produce more competition and better results. The Inner Game of Tennis says you want your opponent to be good to bring out the best in you. That's what I want in our bi-partisan system.

+ Two more marginally related notes:
  1. David Broder writes today about some interesting analysis of politically 'orthodox innovators' and their ultimate fall to 'sectarian infighting' .
  2. SCOTUS meta-concern: I am concerned about judicial nominee non-answers on issues brought up in hearings. They need to retain independence, but we also probably need a better idea of where they're likely headed...
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