Monday, October 03, 2005

And the Nominee Is ...

Dick Cheney.

Well okay no, but she is his 2005 equivalent. Back in 2000, George W. Bush put Dick Cheney in charge of finding his vice-presidential nominee. We all know how that turned out. He has taken a similar route this morning, nominating his White House counsel, 60 year-old Harriet Miers, to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

This nomination is hard to respond to. We know very, very little about Ms. Miers’ personal views on just about anything. Her resume, outlined here in a November 2004 New York Times profile, is nowhere near as impressive as that of John Roberts (although admittedly he did set the bar tremendously high). She has kept a very low profile in Washington since 2001.

I will certainly make no overall judgment about Miers’ nomination until I know more about her and her views. The Senate will have a tougher nut to crack with this one … and they thought Roberts had a short paper trail! I am somewhat troubled by her comparably undistinguished political and legal record, and more than a little concerned that the president would choose her amid continuing charges of appointing less-than-qualified loyalists to positions of high responsibility (a la Brownie).

Those worries aired, I have not seen anything yet that immediately disqualifies her categorically in my eyes. She certainly has not been the kind of ideological warrior that many on the right were hoping would be nominated this morning. The angst among posters at RedState and The Corner is palpable. But, as I said, we have little knowledge whatsoever about her positions.

I really just don’t know. Much remains to be learned, but in the end this morning my initial reaction, just as it was with Roberts, is that it could be much worse. Unlike with Roberts, however, I don’t have the feeling that it couldn’t have been significantly better.

Finally, on a cynical note, I wonder if Miers is not a sacrificial lamb designed to draw fire on qualification grounds … i.e. if Democrats oppose her and sink the nomination, Bush then turns around and nominates a very qualified, but very ideological, alternative. I don’t think this scenario is likely, but wanted to just mention the possibility.

We’ll know much more in the very near future. As they say, stay tuned.


At 11:51 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

I heard on NPR this morning that she was the first woman ever to head up the Bar Association. And I know she was a very well respected Texas attorney before joing the Bush gang--she was one of the first, if not the first, woman to be a partner in any major Texas law firm. Her support for pro bono work was also well-regarded.

Whether any of this qualifies her to sit on the Supreme Court, I don't know. I am certainly not one to say a SCOTUS nominee must have been a justice on a lower court. But I am also more than a little concerned that Bush chose a justice from inside his circle. Is she really one of the best legal minds in the country? I will give her that benefit of the doubt unless shown otherwise, but this is going to be an interesting confirmation.

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Paul Wartenberg said...

The biggest knock on Miers is that she has the look, feel and quacking noise of a cronyist pick; it is, indeed, the first thing anyone notices about her over any other legal experience she has. Amazingly, if Gonzales had gotten the nod here, we wouldn't be focusing on his 'buddy' status with Dubya: the fact is he's developed a bigger and better-looking resume (if you overlook that rather noticeable lump of torture/human rights violations).
While the GOP leadership are saying all the right things ("Gosh, we're really keen Georgie's picked such a...a good...Oh Dog I can't say it!"), the noise from the blogs and the street can't be at all good (the conservatives are screaming that they're getting another Souter and not a Scalia, the moderates are horrified at such blatant cronyism). The Dems are going to be able to make a decent case comparing Miers to Katrina, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Senate moderates take this opportunity to tell Bush he's taking this loyalty crap too far...


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