Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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So explain this to me about Harriet Miers....

The positive trait that appeared most often in early press accounts about Harriet Miers was her meticulous attention to every detail. Say what you will about Miers, all the i's were dotted and all the t's were crossed on her watch.

One could quibble about whether this is the most useful trait in a Supreme Court Justice, but it is certainly a positive trait in its own right -- one that many Americans wish they had in greater stock. And, at this stage of the game, I suspect the Bush administration will take whatever positive memes about Miers it can get.

Which makes this Knight-Ridder story by James Kuhnhenn all the more disturbing:

Senate Republicans and Democrats said Wednesday that Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' written answers to Senate questions were incomplete and inadequate and demanded that she and the White House provide more details, particularly about her work as White House counsel.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and the committee's top Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, took the unusual step of asking Miers by letter to amplify her responses. Specter described Miers' nomination process as "chaotic."

"We do not have much paperwork. We do not have much of a record," Specter said.

"I don't know of anybody who would tell you in that committee that they were satisfied with the responses," Leahy said....

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Miers intended to respond soon.

"From the first day when she was nominated, Ms. Miers told Sen. Specter that she had years of files to go through and that she would work to complete the questionnaire as quickly as possible, but that it was likely she would have to send follow-ups to provide additional information," Perino said.

To be fair to Miers, a lot of the incomplete answers are likely due to Bush's reluctance to do anything that event hints at a waiver of executive privilege.

Still, there's this very odd end of the story:

Specter, whose handling of Roberts' confirmation was praised by both Democrats and Republicans, voiced bewilderment at how Miers' nomination has unfolded, and he alluded to his 100-minute encounter with Miers on Monday, where she ended up disputing his account of their meeting to the press.

Specter initially said Miers had expressed the view that the Constitution contains a right to privacy, a key element in the Roe v. Wade case that established a woman's right to an abortion. Miers, however, said Specter misunderstood her, and Specter said he accepted her statement.

But on Wednesday, he said: "I've never walked out of a room and had a disagreement as to what was said."

UPDATE: Patrick Belton points out that Miers has given an embarrassing answer to an embarrassing question.

In NRO, Byron York notes that her supporters have admitted that, "The meetings with the senators are going terribly. On a scale of one to 100, they are in negative territory."

Orin Kerr thinks the tipping point on Miers has been reached.

posted by Dan on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM




Comments:

This is not a comment on Harriet Miers, but I don't think Sen. Specter expressed himself as well as he might have. He's been a Senator since 1981 and has sat in thousands of meetings. He must have walked out of some of them with a disagreement as to what was said. Maybe his staff were afraid to tell him.

posted by: Zathras on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



If she's so detail oriented how'd she forget to pay her dues to the District of Columbia bar? The right to practice law of the chief counsel to the President of the United States was suspended in Waashington. Yes, this is a technicality maybe even a trivial one, but it gives me pause since this is supposed to be Ms. Miers's strength.

posted by: Howard Green on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



Bush is probably the most incompetent human on the planet. He was incompetent on the first day of his presidency, he still is today, and he will be in the future. He is basically a shaved monkey (though probably not as good with tools as a monkey). As sad as this fact is for our country and the world, the ridiculous part is that republicans and conservatives are just realizing it now.

For Godís sake, will somebody give him a blow job so we can finally have him impeached!

posted by: bill jones on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



For me the most fascinating aspect of the Miers confirmation will be how the Democrats deal with this.

Do they support her and watch the Republicans tear each other apart thereby appearing opportunistic or do they reject her on principle and risk a more right-wing appointment? I'm personally leaning towards the latter but I wouldn't criticise anyone for going the first route.

posted by: reformist muslim on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



When someone mentions "attention to detail" as a great virtue--unless it's accompanied by something more definitive, like "powerful insight" or "unquenchable curiosity"--my mind's eye conjures up an image of Reese Witherspoon in "Election", sharpening pencil after pencil with mind-numbing precision.

Attention to detail and "discretion" (another fraught word when applied to high-level apparatchiks) are the booby prizes of the lonely and the untalented. Real people don't have time to be unremitting perfectionists and people who have honest attachments to friends and family cannot dedicate their lives, vestal-virgin style, to a political hack of any stripe.

Lose this nominee. Blame it on Scooter Libby as he sinks helplessly to the bottom of the Potomac, a warning to all who would be discreet at the expense of integrity.

posted by: Kelli on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



Specter didn't say there were typos in the responses, just that they were inadequate. I think he means from a political point of view. Seeing as how Miers has also be touted as someone who plays with her cards glued to her chest, I can see how opening up now might be a hard habit to break.

posted by: Brock on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



If Byron York's sources are correct, Meiers has flunked her second test as well: the interviews on the hill are going so badly they're being cut back.
Will she next flunk the big test and during the hearings see not only her ignorance of constitutional issues exposed but also a rather severe deficiency in what the British call cleverness?
How did Bush contrive this doozy?
Another Carswell? But did Nixon know what he was doing, and intend to demean the court?

posted by: Flabbergasted on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



If the White House council is so sharp and gives such sage legal advice, how in the f#%! did she get the Valerie Plame and Special Prosecutor thing so absolutely wrong? Um, don't you think the wise decision, a decision that could only protect the White House for a variety of potential outcomes down the road, would be to let Libby and Rove go when this stuff happened. Just say they acted alone and are being let go. Why keep them on, stonewall the press about it, have your the press secretary say they did not do anything wrong and then have everything blow up 2 years down the road. Wow, she is really bright! Exactly the type of person you want on the Supreme Court for twenty years.

posted by: Matt on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



If the White House council is so sharp and gives such sage legal advice, how in the f#%! did she get the Valerie Plame and Special Prosecutor thing so absolutely wrong? Um, don't you think the wise decision, a decision that could only protect the White House for a variety of potential outcomes down the road, would be to let Libby and Rove go when this stuff happened. Just say they acted alone and are being let go. Why keep them on, stonewall the press about it, have your the press secretary say they did not do anything wrong and then have everything blow up 2 years down the road. Wow, she is really bright! Exactly the type of person you want on the Supreme Court for twenty years.

posted by: Matt on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



One of the strangest things to emerge from the hearings on Brownie Miers just came out of her financial information. this post at Slate via of Tapped by Henry Blodget came out today: http://slate.msn.com/id/2128418/nav/tap1/

Now this is the same Blodget of Internet infamy so I hope he really is telling the truth. that said he points out that Miers' is essentially broke because she is the sole caretaker of her mother and has spent down her IRA and played the mortgage game to do so. If the intersection of issues Social Security, healthcare, retirement and the bankruptcy laws are not fortune smiling on the progressive movement nothing is for this is a situation all to many of us are or will face in the very near future. It should also go to debunk the idea that the Boomers are looking forward to some wad of cash from their parents.

posted by: Robert M on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]



Yes! The tipping point has been reached and for the love please end this and put all of us out of our misery. It seems to be the President is being poorly served during these recent months in office. After the Mike Brown FEMA fiascoe how could he have blundered into this mess...

posted by: Jeremy on 10.19.05 at 08:54 PM [permalink]






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