Yesterday I decided I’d had it with the criticism from my friends on the right of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers as an unqualified mediocrity–partly because it exactly mirrors the criticism of Miers from the left, which would love to see both Miers and a fatally weakened Bush go down in flames (see my “Why I’m standing up for Harriet Miers,” Oct. 13).
Much as I love and admire Ann Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, Michelle Malkin, Peggy Noonan, George Will, and the National Review crowd, I think their assessment of Miers is wrong and their tactics dangerous. Does anyone realistically think that G.W. Bush would deal a mortal blow to himself and his party (plus deliver a nasty insult to to a loyal stffer and highly competent lawyer) by pulling her name?
And it’s nice to know that a few folks on the right agree. Ken Masugi of the Claremont Institute, who links to his astute blog entry noting parallels to the reaction on the right of Bush pere‘s nomination of Clarence Thomas (and we all know what the left did to Thomas):
“Thomas, for whom I was a special assistant (1986-90) when he was Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was called a lightweight scholar, an affirmative action appointee, and even a dangerous thinker for proposing that the Declaration of Independence gave meaning to the Constitution. Those were conservative criticisms. Thomas supporter George Will referred to his ‘half-baked’ natural law theories.
“There were grimaces when the first President Bush called him the most qualified nominee-which of course he was….
“But he defied all these criticisms to become the best originalist justice on the Court and the leading conservative government official in America. Does the Thomas nomination offer a guide to understanding Miers?”
For more on Miers from Masugi, click here:
And blogstress Bookworm writes:
“Kudos to you for coming out so strongly in favor of Miers, and for showing that the Right is reacting to her exactly as the Left reacted to Paula Jones — by trying to paint her as uneducated trailer trash.
“I’ve used up a lot of space in my blog defending Miers, because I think her background is wonderful. I think it’s a real virtue that life experiences have moved her to the right, putting her in good conservative company. I think it’s fantastic that she hasn’t had the intellectually corrupting experience of being a judge. Knowing her old law firm, I think it’s a real testament to her skill and intelligence that she was hired and made managing partner there. I think Southern Methodist University is an excellent legal training ground, and I reject entirely the knee-jerk belief in Ivy League schools — a belief that is exceptionally funny now, when the Right is so aware of how intellectually and politically limited those schools are (Larry Summers could say something about that). The snobbery about Miers is unwarranted, and the fear that she is unqualified is unreasonable.”
Well said, Bookworm. There is something grimly ironic about the same conservatives who have long urged students and their parents to boycott the Ivy League suddenly turning into boosters of those havens of political correctness.
And here’s a fine defense of Miers in today’s New York Times from former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully:
“Overlooked in all this caviling is the actual ability and character of the person in question. Indeed, about the best quality to recommend Harriet Miers just now is that she is not at all the sort of person who goes about readily and confidently dismissing other people as third-raters, hacks and mediocrities. She has too much class for that.
“It is true that Harriet Miers, in everything she does, gives high attention to detail. And the trait came in handy with drafts of presidential speeches, in which she routinely exposed weak arguments, bogus statistics and claims inconsistent with previous remarks long forgotten by the rest of us. If one speech declared X ‘our most urgent domestic priority,’ and another speech seven months earlier had said it was Y, it would be Harriet Miers alone who noted the contradiction.
“The accounts of the nominee’s work habits are also true. But even better, when the lights went on at 5:30 a.m. or so in office of the staff secretary or the legal counsel, she was not starting the day with a scan of the newspapers in search of her own name. And all of us who leave our White House jobs and go on to write and trade on our service to the president could stand to learn more from Harriet Miers about service to a president. Whenever she was in the room, calmly listening and observing, you knew that on any matter, great or small, at least one person involved had in mind only the interests of the president, the office and the nation….
“Whatever his reasons, what America got is a nominee of enormous legal ability and ferocious integrity, and in the bargain a gracious Christian woman only more qualified for her new role because she would never have sought it for herself. And in a few years, when the same critics we hear now are extolling the clarity, consistency and perhaps even the ‘brilliance’ of judicial opinions, that’s when you’ll know it’s the Miers court.”
On a lighter note, J.P. shrewdly points out a little factual problem with Washington Post columnist Tina Brown’s hint that former Brit Conservative prime minister Lady Margaret Thatcher maybe isn’t as pro-Iraq War as her sucessor Tony Blair (see The Other Charlotte’s “How Stupid Do You Think We Are, Tina?”, Oct. 13):
“Did you notice that Thatcher didn’t answer the question? She made two statments… one, that scientists require proof, two, that the most serious decision a politician makes is committing to war.”
Yes, we did notice that the Iron Lady didn’t exactly tip her hand. If we’re stupider than Tina Brown, maybe Tina is stupider than Margaret Thatcher.