Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Harriet Miers: Lets Hope Cronyism Works
Underscoring the outrage from social conservatives over the naming of Harriet Miers as President Bushs choice for Supreme Court justice, her appointment means one thing: With his plate full on the war in Iraq and Homeland Security problems, the president has finally shown some battle fatigue and seeks to avoid a brawl with his critics in Congress. His battle fatigue is regrettable but such is the human condition. The bigger question is whether Ms. Miers is a social conservative. Her attempt to convince the leftish American Bar Association to forego its endorsement of federally subsidized abortions, is encouraging; her financial contributions to the 1988 Al Gore presidential run are not. The praise from Senate minority leader Harry Reid is not encouraging but her reputedly being a Born Again Evangelical is. Her contributions to the pro-abort Al Gore while purportedly belonging to a church that is pro-life would spell out a cynical nature.
The essence of Ms. Miers appointment is cronyism about which Alexander Hamilton warned and for which he specified that the Senate confirmation process would be crucial to counteract. I personally am not persuaded by Dr. James Dobson appearing on TV saying with a cryptic smile like the Cheshire cat, If you only knew what I know, youd be confident etc. nor Vice President Cheneys statement that wed be happy with Miers in ten years. Why must we wait ten years when better qualified jurists are available now? The history of this if you knew what I know dodge is not impressive. After the senior Bushs naming to the Court of David Souter, John Sununu also from New Hampshire said approximately the same words: if you knew Souter as I know him--. He should have been stopped right there: who can know a 50-year-old bachelor who has lived lifelong in the woods with his mother? He might bay at the full moon on frosty nights. He might have regarded Paul Simon as a sex object. I wouldnt support him on the grounds of being a crypto-monk alone, never mind his legal views. (It reminds me of those who didnt know Jimmy Carter well when he was elected president, having been elected only because he appeared pure after Watergate but who was almost entirely unknown. His first appointment was Cy Vance, his second was Bert Lance. Then the nation started worrying that all other appointments would have names rhyming with pants. Perhaps that wouldnt have been so bad as those he did appoint.)
The problem was that, of course, Sununu didnt know him very well despite having been New Hampshire governor. Sununu and Bush père were going on the recommendation of New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman, one of the slickest operators in modern Senate history who somehow psyched out the recluse and who pulled the fastest one in modern Supreme Court history by gulling the president. We have today arguably the Courts most liberal justice because of the if you knew what I know ruse. Following that deliberate ruse, anyone who believes Rudman on anything including his Concord Coalition of high taxers ought to be checked out for fatal naïveté.
Unfortunately, the if you knew what I know axiom must be followed in this case. She is trusted by Bush and Bush has done reasonably well in living up to his commitments. If anyone should know what Miers is like, it should be Bush. She worked with him closely and unless she is a merciless charlatan like Souter he should have a good approximation of her views. Thats better than a Dr. Jim Dobson recommendation. I regret that Bush is not up the battle by picking an acknowledged conservative and fighting the good fight on the filibusterleading to a narrow but decisive confirmation. But hes not. So for conservatives, our only hope is to rely on cronyismthat this time, despite Alexander Hamiltons misgivings, it is validated.