Harriet Miers is gone. Bush can ‘pose’ all he wants about documents being what did her in. But his own far-right supporters did her in–that seems clear to everyone except those who drank the cool aid at the White House. The most important lesson to be drawn from this outcome is that Bush is not only unpopular in the country with 38% approval ratings; he’s also rapidly losing political firepower even among his own base. That base would never have turned on his hand-picked nominee unless they smelled blood in the water in this presidency. As I’ve written here before, I’m amazed (and pleased) that things could turn so fast for him.
What are the conservatives thinking? Why would they willingly jettison a ‘pretty-good’ choice from their perspective in favor of waiting for a “home run” nominee? It seems to me that they’re hoping for a far right nominee in the mold of Scalia–say, Michael Luttig, Janice Rogers or Priscilla Owen. But they have to know that Democrats would likely filibuster such a candidate. Then they’d have to use the nuclear option and abandon the Senate’s filibuster tradition. At this stage of the game do the Republicans really think that they can carry the majority of the American people with them on this strategy? When you’re selling a war that’s one thing. People might trust you and give you the benefit of the doubt. But when you mess with congressional precedent, I don’t think you carry a lot of good will with you on that.
Since the day after Kerry’s loss I’ve been writing about the Republicans overreaching and saying that this would be their downfall. I think that the arch-right strategy in the Miers confirmation battle is yet another example of overreaching. The potential for nuclear annihilation in the Senate chambers with an extreme-right nominee will only amplify the overreaching. Who knows where it will lead?
But one thing that concerns me deeply is that the Democrats have articulated no real message or agenda that resonates with anyone. It’s all well and good for them to sit back while the Harriet Miers immolated herself. But what comes after that? And if the Republicans do engage in continuing missteps over a future nominee, how will Democrats take advantage? Do Democrats expect that the House or Senate will simply fall into their hands come the mid-terms? If they do and it does then woe unto them because again it seems to me that they have absolutely no clue of an agenda should they take a majority in either house (and it appers increasingly possible that this might happen). “People get ready, there’s a train that might be comin’,” I say.
It will be an interesting (as in the Chinese saying: “May you be cursed to live in interesting times”) and scary time.