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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, October 03, 2005

It's Harriet Miers!

(Inevitable, really, that she already has been Wiki'ed)

At 8 AM on the dot, Monday morning, just an hour and fifteen minutes after making the announcement public, President Bush presented to the nation, White House counsel Harriet Ellen Miers, to succeed to the Supreme Court post left vacant by Sandra Day O'Connor -- first lady Justice of the SCOTUS.



What a shrewd administration this is. It's stunning sometimes.

There are many ways to unravel this choice.

But to begin with, I have to say that I first heard of Harriet Miers on 27 September at Ann Althouse's blog -- she scooped Blogosphere, to the best of my knowledge.

It seems, in turn, she linked to a WaPo piece about Miers, which hinted the president might be seriously considering a "a woman or minority" candidate -- which is uncharacteristic of him to say, so baldly, unless he really meant it.

And what he says, he does.

In a related note, a news programme roasted Laura Bush Sunday for her earlier Today Show comments to Ann Curry, when she went on record saying that she would "really like for him to name a woman" to succeed SDO.

The news show presenter (a woman) said that if she had been Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Bush would've faced condemnation for interfering or trying to influence the President's decisions.

And you know, they could just be on to something, since is it a coincidence Harriet Miers and the then Laura Welch both attended Southern Methodist University? Hah!

That of course is just the cutesy reason.

Here are some educated guesses as to why it was Miers.

This President likes people who he knows and trusts. Time and time again, he has chosen to important positions, people of unquestionable allegiance to what his administration stands for.

He's the most fraternal of US Presidents that way, since John F. Kennedy, who appointed not only his brother to the Attorney-Generalship of the US, but a host of close family and especially Boston Irish and wartime friends to government jobs -- including Sargeant Shriver, his brother-in-law, as Peace Corps President, and Paul Fay, who served with him in the Pacific theatre in WWII, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy; as well as Harvard and Navy pal, Byron White (who, let's remember, was also a non-jurist), to the SCOTUS.

It should be noted, for example, that Harriet Miers was herself leading adviser to the President for vetting nominees to the SCOTUS.

Then she gets appointed, in a way strikingly similar to Vice-President Dick Cheney heading up a task force to find a running mate for then Governor Bush of Texas -- and ending up being selected himself!

One administration person steps down, another who is already part of the fabric of the staff, slides over. It's like that time-and-time again.

Another important point is that, of course, Harriet Miers is a woman.

A woman replacing another woman to the SCOTUS not only is a good thing, but is an impact nomination -- the first thing the normal just folks American will see is that the President chose a woman, after all.

She's white, but she's a woman, and that's better than nothing, will think Mr. and Mrs. America (and let's be honest, especially Mrs. America).

Even more in-the-know observers thought it would be a Luttig or similar this go-around. But no, it's a mild-mannered lady, not a ferocious ideologue, on paper.

The second immediate reaction is that she's an older lady. I don't know her age, but she looks a fair 60 years-old, easily.

[Ed. Update- Born August 10, 1945. Exactly 60 years old. That was good guesstimation on my part, since I'm usually not overly acute about judging people's ages]

SDO served 24 years on the SCOTUS. Whilst you can conceivably hang unto your position until as long as Chief Justice Rehnquist, who was 83 when he passed on, it's doubtful.

We're looking at tops 15 years, which is still an excellent run for any Justice.

(I only mention this because Harvard Law Professor, and famous counsel to OJ Simpson and Claus von Bülow, Alan Dershowitz ripped apart President Bush on CourtTV recently, implying that the president was nominating only YOUNG people to the SCOTUS. Not sure where he extrapolated Roberts as people, but this puts paid that scurrilous, and may I say, hysterical assumption that he's trying to "circumvent" his term in office by nominating very young Justices -- as if he would've been the first and only Commander-in-Chief to do so, were it even true)

The other point is that she's not herself a Judge, and therefore has less paper-trails than even John Roberts.

Lastly, because of her administration position, she is not an unknown Washington quantity.

It is true that she isn't an insider like Roberts, with his distinguished legal connexions. But in 5 years since she has been White House counsel, she no doubt has formed many alliances in that notoriously power-impressed town.

She therefore leaves the dual impression of being both an insider looking out, and outsider looking in.

Good grief, what a coup.

Everyone understood that the opposition party would go after the second nominee to the SCOTUS, hammer-and-tongs. It'll be a battle royale!, was the prediction.

But now?

Imagine the impossible task before them.

They have to go after a woman candidate, who is older, in fact, she looks grandmotherly, who doesn't have much of her legal thoughts on paper, and yet has a sterling public service and private legal career behind her, with countless awards from her home state of Texas.

She even was recently given the Sandra Day O'Connor Award in Texas, which is extraordinary to imagine you succeed the person whose name is on the award you just got!

Not only is this a qualified nominee, a pioneer woman in the legal field, an older lady at that, but she is a staunch conservative by association.

MSM will have a devil of a time spinning this nomination negatively, as they tried to do with Roberts, and failed, despite even sniffing around his two children's adoptions.

Unless they can unearth a past hiterhto unknown (negated by the very fact that if this President chose her 5 years ago, her past and values were combed with a fine toothcomb), this nomination might have political posturing, but no real haranguing without making them look oppositional no matter what.

It's a brilliant choice in this respect.

UPDATE: Ahh, don't you love how the tom-toms are already on overdrive for this lady? Why, in the space of 2 hours, I have learnt that the never-married Harriet Miers might be a tribadist, AND that she is alleged to have given campaign contributions to President Clinton in 1991. The first, no one knows, but you can see why certain people want it to be true, and the second is just Rumour-mongering 101: find a similarly-named person and attribute what they did, to the one at hand -- in this case, Harris Miers.

(Unverified Correction: Try.com's Political Money Line says she contributed: "In the 1988 election she gave $1,000 to Senator Bentsen, $1,000 to Albert Gore Jr. for President and $1,000 to the Democratic National Committee". If this means she was a Texas Democrat, so were many Conservatives at the time. This actually works in favour of her, not against her -- ed. update: I've verified it, it's true. See ADDENDUM below for more info)

As soon as I posted this piece, I went to run errands in my car, and obviously, turned on NPR immediately. It's my "Car Stereo Memory #1" radio station.

At 9:30, they were talking about African-American Katrina-hit social clubs in Louisiana. They were still sticking to the Katrina-meme.

But then I expected a litle more from Diane Rehm on the 10 AM spot, since she's always on top of the day's events -- she and her staff always get a panel of experts to chew the cud about any big news story, seemingly within minutes of it breaking.

To my slight amazement, she did begin the segment talking about the nomination, of course, but it lasted all of 16 minutes. One expert on the phone couldn't speak because of phoneline problems. The other, spoke about how "Liberals dodged another bullet with this nomination", to which Miss Rehm seemed particularly excited about to explore. Sen. Schumer of New York is apparently agreeing, and I cannot imagine if he's smiling about this, that he can then spin a negative attack on Miers in the Senate Judicial hearings. She was on his list of "acceptable" candidates his Party would not oppose, for pity's sake.

By the way, in case you wondered what is up with Diane's quivering voice, it seems this poor lady suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological disorder of the vocal chords, which almost cost her her radio show in 1998. My mother was not mollified when I told her that, since she goes batty whenever she has to hear Rehm's voice, whenever I turn on her show in the car.

After the 16 minutes were up, the no doubt previously scheduled German elections/reunification segment ran until at least 10:44 AM EDT, when I had to leave my car to enter the bank.

Now I understand that it was short-notice, but when Roberts was nominated, they went at it all day on NPR.

Here is a woman candidate, with arguably longer association with the current administration to work on for reputation purposes, and the first important radio show on NPR, the leading progressive radio station of record, talks about it for 16 minutes.

Either this is very good news for one side, and they don't want to come out too pro-or-con just yet; or it's very good news for the other side, as a woman was just nominated as another Super Stealth-candidate to the SCOTUS.

We'll see as the day progresses what the memes will be like in months to come, since the plan is to try to confirm her by Thanksgiving.

By the way, I thought it was professional how this nomination, which must've been in the works privately for over a month now, wasn't a Friday Surprise bombshell -- this in turn would've been construed as trying to circumvent the DeLay talk show chatter.

Bright and early Monday, we're given a stately fait accompli instead.

ADDENDUM: Here is the full list of Harriet Miers' political contributions to date. And for fun just to compare, John D. Roberts, and TV US President, Geena Davis.

11 Comments:

  • I congratulated a Democratic friend of mine today on his party's 2006 and 2008 victories. The Bush presidency is effectively finished.

    If Senate Republicans push this through, it will be an even bigger disaster for them in the future. For next to the "Ginsburg precedent" and the "Roberts precedent" will be this "Miers precedent": if you didn't oppose this unqualified crony pick for the Supreme Court, who can you oppose?

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Oct 03, 09:56:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I congratulated a Democratic friend of mine today on his party's 2006 and 2008 victories. The Bush presidency is effectively finished.

    Oh my God, JSU. What a depressing load of horsepucky.

    Now, you're a lawyer, and I'm not. Moreover, you're one of the most informed people about this topic that I personally know. And I'm not.

    But the very people who are depressed about this nomination are those who were intimately involved with predicting the odds of the Luttigs, the Owens, and the Browns.

    You were expecting a home-run, and you feel all you got was a weak little come-backer.

    Most Americans don't feel this way.

    There is nothing to suggest this evangelical aide to the most Conservative US President since Reagan (and in social issues, more), would appoint a Souter.

    You go with what you know.

    Come on now, buck up, man!

    If Senate Republicans push this through, it will be an even bigger disaster for them in the future. For next to the "Ginsburg precedent" and the "Roberts precedent" will be this "Miers precedent": if you didn't oppose this unqualified crony pick for the Supreme Court, who can you oppose

    Perhaps.

    Also, I seem to be in the very great majority camp in liking this nomination, since I think it's deeply embedded stealth pick.

    Hugh Hewitt and I (not a phrase I use every day, admittedly) seem to be amongst the few who are pulling for Miers to be confirmed.

    Then we have GayPatriot and the like who thought this was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy by the Prez and advisors, hoping that this nomination would get shot down, and then he'd go with any of Garza/McConnell/Jones, et al.

    Over at Volokh, we had this commentary (presumably from a Conservative commenter, albeit it was posted from the left-side of his blog):

    I won't be surprised if Karl Rove realizes this was a goof and decides to leak out that Miers had a housekeeper from Neptune so that Bush can have an excuse to withdraw the nomination.

    Heh.

    ...courage!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Oct 04, 12:22:00 am GMT-4  

  • Also, I seem to be in the very great majority camp in liking this nomination, since I think it's deeply embedded stealth pick.

    Minority, obviously.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Oct 04, 12:43:00 am GMT-4  

  • I don't know whether Miers is a Souter. I suspect not. A Kennedy perhaps; I wouldn't even be surprised if she's as conservative as any, at least for the first few years.

    What I do know, though, is that she is the least qualified nominee in decades -- at least since the rejected Carswell -- and that she fits Hamilton's description of the sort of pick Senatorial advise and consent is supposed to shoot down: "candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure".

    The other thing I know is that, as supporter John Cornyn acknowledged, she's not the "Scalia or Thomas" Bush promised the base (since, among other things, those two were qualified), and that a significant amount of them are very, very angry and will not turn up for the next few elections. Incidentally, Jeb's national ambitions are also finished -- they won't trust another Bush.

    Whether this is good or bad for the world... We'll see, right?

    By Blogger JSU, at Tue Oct 04, 01:22:00 am GMT-4  

  • I don't know whether Miers is a Souter. I suspect not. A Kennedy perhaps; I wouldn't even be surprised if she's as conservative as any, at least for the first few years.

    I heard the exact same argument from someone on Althouse's blog. I said then it was a well-reasoned conjecture, even if I am disinclined to believe it.

    she fits Hamilton's description of the sort of pick Senatorial advise and consent is supposed to shoot down:

    Hah! Your thoughts mirror Professor Randy Barnett's Op/ed on the WSJ today, which he also posted on Volokh.

    The other thing I know is that, as supporter John Cornyn acknowledged, she's not the "Scalia or Thomas" Bush promised the base (since, among other things, those two were qualified), and that a significant amount of them are very, very angry and will not turn up for the next few elections.

    If by this you mean the originalists or libertarian section, then yes -- albeit I think still much too doomsdayish and overblown for WORDS.

    If by this you mean the religious base of the Repubs, your mind is affected!

    You, a non-religious person, see a Kennedy in drag (there's a visual if ever there was one).

    Mainstream religious Americans (like myself, that is, not a born-againer) see this lady as an Evangelical Texas Republican.

    That is a crucial difference between Kennedy and she.

    Don't underestimate it; it's a very important distinction for that base.

    Incidentally, Jeb's national ambitions are also finished -- they won't trust another Bush.

    You know my thoughts on that. He just doesn't have the complete Presidential package.

    I never considered him that much of a threat to reconquer the WH for Famille Bush, and today makes no difference to those thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Oct 04, 02:29:00 am GMT-4  

  • Trolls: Just call me Catherine the Great.

    I have the power. And I will use it -- indiscriminately.

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Oct 04, 05:19:00 pm GMT-4  

  • This is what you guys get for not jumping on the Nowak bandwagon earlier.

    By Blogger Jim, at Tue Oct 04, 09:23:00 pm GMT-4  

  • This is what you guys get for not jumping on the Nowak bandwagon earlier

    Has anyone figured out what genus of rodent Nowak is?

    Probably somewhere in between Emerson Fittipaldi and the late Yasser Arafat. (wince)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Oct 04, 09:41:00 pm GMT-4  

  • http://harrietmiers.blogspot.com/

    I have no idea if you seen this, Vic.

    It's mildly amusing.

    By Blogger Kullrad, at Wed Oct 05, 01:38:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I had yes, but thanks again, Kullrad. :)

    I originally saw it at Ann Althouse's blog, since she's always on top of such things, and doesn't mind "lowering" herself to post blogspoofs and the like.

    This is a copy of the exchange I had with someone on her blog about the spoof:

    lolol*

    That was my first reaction.

    It's the reaction I would hope would be the first reaction of almost everyone -- right, left, centre, up, down, sideways.

    But let's move back a moment.

    Ask yourself -- would this blog-spoof, the best I've seen since Benedict XVI's blog spoof, be possible for anyone other than someone people don't take seriously?

    Why is it that John Roberts didn't get a blog spoof site like that?

    JohnRoberts.Blogspot.com
    &
    JohnGRoberts.Blogspot.com

    ...produces no results.

    Eh. Maybe some people lend themselves to be mocked.


    Then someone asked me:

    If that's true, Victoria, why do you think Miers is not taken seriously?

    To which I replied:

    First of all, many cultures prize being witty above being intellectuall all the time. That is the case in the US.

    I guarantee you, Presidential appointees in France and Spain don't get spoof blogs done about them.

    And as such, when you're trying to be funny about a person just nominated to the SCOTUS, it helps if they are:

    1- A woman
    2- An older woman
    3- An older woman who is a spinster
    4- An older woman who is a spinster and somewhat mousey-looking
    5- An older woman who is a spinster and somewhat mousey-looking and an enigma


    ...see? ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Oct 06, 12:37:00 pm GMT-4  

  • I like the interplay between the fake miers blog and the fake luttig blog.

    By Blogger Jim, at Thu Oct 06, 09:34:00 pm GMT-4  

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