On Fox News, Justice Nathan L. Hecht of the Texas Supreme Court, a friend of Ms. Miers who has become her de facto spokesman, said there was “no chance at all” that she would withdraw her nomination. Although he said he had not heard it from her, he said, “it’s outside the bounds of possibility.”
—New York Times
I’ve been watching with muted glee as Republicans seem to be self-immolating over the Harriet Miers nomination. The hard-right seems livid. Moderates like Specter are unenthused. Does the woman have any serious support (I’m not talking paid spinsters like Ed Gillespie or ex-beaus like Nate Hecht) within the conservative movement or the Party?
I haven’t read anyone who’s said this in blogs or the news sites (but I’m sure someone got to this idea before me): there’s only one reason for the meltdown within Republican ranks over Miers…Bush’s bullet to the bottom in terms of the polls; the indictments, potential indictments and embarrassing resignations; and his lame duck status (well, OK that was three, but they’re all closely related). It is so delicious to see a president who seemed like he could do no wrong since 9/11 basically imploding before your very eyes. Does anyone believe that six months ago the hard right would’ve dared to stand up to him in this way? It’s interesting to see how quickly seemingly impregnable political fortunes can wane.
It’s interesting to note that Democrats have been almost silent (or perhaps the media’s focus is on the Republican meltdown thus squelching any Democratic viewpoint). In a way, it’s just as well. Let the Republicans self-destruct over this in full view of the American public. It hurts Bush. It hurts the Republican leadership. And it makes the hard-right look like the ungrateful, two-timing bastards that they undoubtedly are.
So where can this lead? Can Miers get through all this and somehow still be confirmed? Well, yes that is possible. But after this shellacking she’s taken, she will end up being a tarnished justice with little credibility. I guess that didn’t seem to hurt Clarence Thomas any (except in our eyes of course). But now you’d have two justices on the Court without serious qualifications. That certainly can’t help the prestige of the Court in the eyes of the U.S. public.
But what if the movement to sandblast Miers continues and she’s eventually forced to abandon her nomination? That could get us into a fine kettle of fish as Laurel & Hardy used to say. If this happens, then Bush will almost be forced to turn to one of his stridently ideological would-be nominees like Janice Rogers or Priscilla Owens if only to appease the Brownbacks of the world. This in turn would let loose a Democratic full court press against such a nominee including the serious possibility of filibuster. Then we’d be back at the nuclear option. And given the current political situation with Bush’s popularity and authority at an all-time low, DeLay under indictment with possibly Rove, Libby and Frist not far behind…is this the way the Republicans would really want to go? I think it would seriously backfire and cause the voting public to turn the Republicans out and destroy their Congressional majorities.
I’m certain that something like this is precisely what the Gillespies of the Republican world are telling the Borks and other hardliners right now: go along with Miers or risk a potentially disastrous blowup down the line. But one also has to acknowledge that perhaps the Borks of the world don’t want to be pragmatic. They may really want that nuclear showdown. They may really want to totally eviscerate the Democratic minority turning them into mere ciphers. They may really think in their utter divorce from reality that the American people will somehow stand for this.
I can only hope that our fellow citizens are smart enough to figure this out and turn against the bums in 2006.
Alternatively–and this seems even more far-fetched than the above scenario–what if Miers loses the Senate’s hard-right like Brownback and say 15-20 other fellow Republicans. But let’s say, 15-20 Democrats like Harry Reid and others are willing to vote for her. Then you’d have the strange and unheard-of phenomenon (in this day and age of bitter partisan rancor) of a real bipartisan vote on a Supreme Court nomination. But the only way this could happen is if those Democrats received some assurance from Miers that she viewed Roe as “settled law.” And that promise seems unlikely especially coming from a servant of George Bush. Imagine how sullied both their reputations would be in the eyes of the Republican hard right. But on the other hand, if 14 senators can get together from both parties to foreswear the nuclear option why couldn’t a like number get together to avoid World War III in the U.S. Senate over this open seat?
Another stray thought–the fact that one of the reasons it chose Miers was that Harry Reid suggested her to the president can’t have helped her too much:
“I like Harriet Miers,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “In my view, the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer.” Reid had actually suggested Miers to Bush as a Republican he might be comfortable with on the court, those familiar with consultations between the president and senators said.
—Associated Press article
And isn’t Harry Reid crowing that his probably sincere, uncynical suggestion to Bush has gotten the guy into so much hot water with his base? Even though Reid didn’t plan it that way, it turned out brilliantly didn’t it?
See White House Deflects Any Talk That Miers May Drop Out in the October 13th New York Times.