Wednesday, October 5, 2005
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Who do you trust?
George W. Bush is asking Americans to trust him one hell of a lot in recent weeks.
On the Miers nomination, as George Will put it, "The president's 'argument' for her amounts to: Trust me."
The problem is, this kind of presidential assertion runs into the "crony too far" problem, as Jacob Levy points out:
Then there's this Congressional push to ward off further Abu Ghraibs by codifying the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation as the uniform standard for military interrogations in the field. According to the AP's Liz Sidoti, Bush doesn't like that proposal at all (link via Andrew Sullivan):
In the Weekly Standard, Tom Donnelly and Vance Serchuk state why the administration is off base:
There are good people working in the executive branch in whose competency I trust. At this point, George W. Bush is not one of them.
UPDATE: William J. Stuntz argues in TNR Online that Bush is echoing Truman:
This is a nice piece of analogical reasoning, but I don't think it holds up. The first problem is that even the Bush people who are "major-league talents," like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, have not acquitted themselves well. The second problem is that Truman, unlike Bush, was a voracious reader who demonstrated a fair amount of intellectual curiousity.
"There are good people working in the executive branch in whose competency I trust. At this point, George W. Bush is not one of them. "
"The first problem is that even the Bush people who are "major-league talents," like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, have not acquitted themselves well. The second problem is that Truman, unlike Bush, was a voracious reader who demonstrated a fair amount of intellectual curiousity. "
Jeez, there are enough red herrings in this post have a fish fry. Lets start from square one, assuming that the Dems are going to let this one go through (as seems likely so far at least), or at least are unlikely to hold Miers up on a 'crony' argument, it is really only conservative senators who have any cards in this game.
Will's peice is correct, but it certainly wasnt aimed at Kerry voters, they had their say. It is aimed at Republicans and specifically the Conservatives that were promised certain judges. The real question is from a _conservative's_ point of view, is Bush trustworthy in this pick. I think Will's conclusions are wrong, Bush is being badly served by the memory hole here. This is a president that has cut taxes dramatically, increased defense funding, fought 2 wars, and appointed more conservative judges to high posts than his father ever dreamed of. He has generally stuck with conservative hardliners when pressured to go with moderates in high offices.
PS: the only way this nominee makes the court in one peice is if this exact fight is happening on the right. Dont think that didnt occur to Karl Rove and Bush when the selection was made.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
Mark, unlike Dan I did vote for Bush, and I wouldn't trust him to make a proper ham sandwich. He has a judicial philosophy like I have taste in modern art.
I've taken a vow of silence on the Supreme Court nomination until the confirmation hearings start, so I have nothing to say about that. But Stuntz's analogies only remind me that you can compare anyone with two legs, two arms and a head to anyone else with two legs, two arms and a head. Bush and Truman, indeed.posted by: Zathras on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
Mark, I think your logic is completely inverted. Basically, you’re saying both “shut up conservatives who didn’t vote for Bush (i.e. Dan), you already didn’t vote for him” and “shut up conservatives who voted for Bush and are complaining, you already voted for him.” Technically, no one gets a veto, including Dan, George Will, and anyone at the Corner, let alone “opposing parties.” Your response too easily harmonizes the contradictions that make Bush be Bush, and they’re contradictions that are obviously causing a conservative identity crisis. If you think that this is part of a Rovian plot to get some no-name to the High Court to do whatever it is the Left is afraid of, then it’s a very bizarre plot indeed, and one that’ll help further alienate smart and idealistic conservatives.posted by: festus on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
Zathras, I tend to agree with everything except the trusting Bush part. Im waiting to hear this woman speak. Personally I have very little faith in Bush carrying through on projects or kicking subordinate butt when things arent working, but I have a great deal of faith in him to present policies that define him. I believe Bush is more of a pure constructionist than those who claim to be clammering for one. Bush simply isnt going to appoint someone who is going to be an activist in the other direction, and thats what the critics are really asking for.
This seems to me like a case of giving the Conservatives what they need instead of what they want. Janice Rodgers Brown or another outright anti-Roe nominee would very likely cost the Republicans the Congress in 06, which means no more conservative justices period, and then the WH in 08, which means a couple more Ruth Ginsbergs that would easily neutralize the original pick. It wont due to mix up Bushs ineptitude in completing projects with his shrewdness towards politics.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
"Technically, no one gets a veto, including Dan, George Will, and anyone at the Corner, let alone “opposing parties.”"
Technically, this is true. The Dems are triangulated because they asked for her and the Reps can hardly reject her idealogically after lecturing the opposition about doing exactly that. Unless something unforseen shows up in her record or one side decides to commit suicide, this is a done deal.
Probably, but you seem to assume this is a bad thing. In my opinion, most good policy comes from identity crisis.
"If you think that this is part of a Rovian plot to get some no-name to the High Court to do whatever it is the Left is afraid of, then it’s a very bizarre plot indeed"
I have no doubt that this is all a triangulation. The brilliance of good strategy is that every angle that turns up down the road which supports you seems premeditated. I doubt that Miers is a true stealth zealot, but I have no doubt she is more conservative than the Democrats would allow to pass without a fight under other circumstances.
"one that’ll help further alienate smart and idealistic conservatives."
Smart and idealistic conservatives will recognize half a load when they see. Look across the aisle, if you want to be idealistically pure (and out of the mainstream) the price is minority status. I think middle American is going to embrace this nominee ultimately. Just maybe the court needs a career business woman/sunday school teacher instead of another cocktail circuit federal judge.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
I trust Bush not to go wobbly on Iraq and see it through. I don't trust Bush to understand the difference between an originalist in the mold of Scalia, a natural rights advocate like Thomas or a traditional conservative like Rehnquest. I don't trust Bush not to prize personal loyalty over all other principles. I don't trust Bush not to lie about how much things cost.
Mark: You have the Xs and Os down. With 55 Republicans, Bush could have gotten hunreds of nominees approved. And if the goal was to torture Democrats, there are a good number of women and minorities more qualified. That he picked a crony after Katrina is as damaging to moderate Republicans as conservatives. The damage is to the President, not necessarily the crony.posted by: PD Shaw on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
Mark, I don't feel I can comment on what conservatives need here or even on your reflections about "the brilliance of good strategy" without violating my pledge of silence on this nomination. So I will have nothing to say about this until the confirmation hearings start in the Judiciary Committee. When they do, boy are you going to get it.
Dan, shouldn't the question be, "whom do you trust?"posted by: Zathras on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
This is a nice piece of analogical reasoning, but I don't think it holds up. The first problem is that even the Bush people who are "major-league talents," like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, have not acquitted themselves well.
Dunno about that.... consider the magnitude and difficulty of the task. For decades, the middle east has been considered a gordian knot, and these are the people who had to deal with it. I can think of quite a lot of people who could have done a worse job of it, and damn few who might have done better.posted by: rosignol on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
All goes back to the fact that Bush is unqualified, and Mark is too scared to address the fact.
FYI- The other thread has a response to your completely predictable, and completely wrong-headed response.
Happy to go down that path... I love debating people of lower intellect... (not an insult, but I've done my due diligence on who you are, and am not impressed)posted by: RZ on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
RZ, its past your bedtime. Grow up.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
"So I will have nothing to say about this until the confirmation hearings start in the Judiciary Committee. When they do, boy are you going to get it."
Looking forward to it Z :)
"That he picked a crony after Katrina is as damaging to moderate Republicans as conservatives. The damage is to the President, not necessarily the crony."
Fair point PD, but let me address the crony argument for a moment. This is a strong argument for the Democrats and independents that dont trust Bush, I agree.
The question is whether Bush's priorities (which seem to relate to having the Patriot Act upheld and keeping Guantanamo open) are the same as the social conservatives and small government conservatives. I would bet not.
I think Bush's goal is a court that accords more deference to the actions of the executive branch. And Bush is very likely to know his nominee's thoughts on that topic, based on the legal advice he has been getting.
As for anything else; I stand with Z. I don't know. I will say that I think you have W's mindset down and the possible calculations, but may not be right on how all of it plays out this time around. Like you, I do look forward to Z fulfilling his promise.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
Mark- your response just provides further evidence of my point. Your arguments are limited intellectually, when you can't think of a legitimate point, you say "its past your bedtime?"
Sad, for someone who posts as much as you do.posted by: RZ on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
RZ, im only saying this to make it clear to you we are done talking. While it is certainly possible that you are smarter than I am, intelligence isnt everything. I would advise you to put that big brain of yours to work learning manners. I can assure you that whatever small reputation i have earned here as a thinker and debater didnt come from declaring my intellectual superiority, particularly when no-one is asking. Go haunt somebody else.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
Your reputation as a "thinker and debater?"
He's further proof that you are neither.
You say that you wrote "its past your bedtime" to make clear that you "we are done talking"- yet you continue the conversation. Sounds illogical to me.
My overall point is that your posts are pretty poorly thought-out and on the whole detract from this blog. As a U of C alum, I hate seeing Drezner's site impacted in this manner.
Rather than me haunting someone else, perhaps you should post somewhere else- a place that is more in line with your capabilities- this surely isn't it.
"For decades, the middle east has been considered a gordian knot, and these are the people who had to deal with it. I can think of quite a lot of people who could have done a worse job of it, and damn few who might have done better. "
Posted by rosignol
Well, declaring abysmal failure to be the new standard for success does seem to work for this administration and its supporters, so why not continue?posted by: Barry on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
How could someone have done a worse job ?posted by: Mark M on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
Anytime a leader, any leader, has to say 'trust me'
'Trust me' means Bush is no longer a leader but a
His position on anything is no longer defensible
Bush is Doomed.
The destruction will be enormous.
Updated Chinese proverb: "Bush has lost the
...And the God's now conspire to destroy him,
Bye Bye Bush.
Wrought, an adj: "Shaped by hammering with tools."
You can trust a person's judgment and still disagree with him. You can trust that President Bush will appoint a competent conservative to the Supreme Court, but believe that no conservative should be appointed to the court.
The point of Dan's post is that you can't trust that Bush will appoint a competent conservative. So, when Bush appoints someone with little relevant record, it's appropriate for a conservative to question the appointment. It doesn't matter for whom you voted -- at some point, we all vote against a candidate whose judgment we trust, but with whose philosophy we disagree. And, at some point we all vote for someone with whose philosophy we agree, but with whose judgment we, in the end, don't.
It seems that many people are taking the question as being, "Is she conservative or not?" when the actual question is, "Is she the best (or even a competent) candidate or not?"posted by: Andrew Steele on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
True Andrew, and the next question is "Is she the best candidate that can be confirmed without starting a shooting war". Lets not pretend there were not circumstances outside Bush's control in his selection.posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
If you think she is the best candidate that could be confirmed, then you really are as stupid as I'm suggesting.
I think its time you find a blog that is more appropriate for your level of intelligence.posted by: RZ on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
I don't get it....
Miers claims Bush is the most brilliant man she ever met? This automatically disqualifies her in my book. This is not loyalty, this is idol worship.
The fact that Bush claims that Miers "will not change" even 20 years down the line implies that neither mental curiosity or open mindedness is part of her repertoire. In this world of constant change, anyone who does not grow to accept new found ideas is doomed. Even Senator Byrd of WV regrets his association with the KKK. Is this the Conservative Movement's gift to our nations future?posted by: Ben Donikian on 10.05.05 at 03:12 PM [permalink]
"The fact that Bush claims that Miers "will not change" even 20 years down the line implies that neither mental curiosity or open mindedness is part of her repertoire."
First of all, I dont see anything wrong with having convictions that hold up for 20 years. Murder is wrong now, and i am willing to go out on a limb and say it will most definately be wrong in 20 years. Secondly, we know that Miers has contributed to Democrats in the past and apparently has undergone some sort of change over the years.
"Even Senator Byrd of WV regrets his association with the KKK. Is this the Conservative Movement's gift to our nations future?"
Boasting of having former Klan members seems like an odd claim to a superior party. Perhaps this is one of those liberal/conservative differences, but I dont happen to think people that join groups devoted to violence and murder against minorities change their feathers. Since when is having convictions a negative? Should we all give the Klan a spin as part of our enlightenment?
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