Wednesday, October 26, 2005

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Harriet Miers evokes the wrong emotions

I'm actually beginning to feel pity for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers --- and this is not a good thing. I'm feeling the same way about Miers that I feel when I go to a job talk and recognize within five minutes that there is no chance in hell that this person is going to be hired.

It now seems well nigh impossible to find anyone of substance willing to say anything really positive about her nomination. Finding negative things, on the other hand, is pretty damn easy.

Orin Kerr looks at some Miers speeches, about the role of the courts in addressing abortion or religion. Reading the highlighted passages, I concur with Kerr: "The writing is awkward enough that I'm not entirely sure what she is saying."

This pales in comparison to Virginia Postrel's take:

For whatever reason, the president has picked a woman who not only has no constitutional or judicial experience but even in her business practice has demonstrated no interest in the law as anything other than a source of billable hours. At 60 years old, she appears never to have had a substantive conversation about law or policy with any friend. She comes from a closed and cronyish legal and business culture and appears to have gotten ahead through a combination of networking, nose-to-the-grindstone diligence, and willingness to do her law firm's management, rather than legal, work.

Her selection is an insult to women, to evangelical Christians, and to corporate lawyers. Is this really the best these groups have to offer to U.S. Supreme Court?

However, the end to this New York Times story by David Kirkpatrick is what really got me to feeling sorry for Miers:

Asked if the debate had become "one-sided," with too few defending Ms. Miers, Senator Sessions, the Alabama Republican, struggled for words, then pushed a button for a nearby elevator in the Capitol building and told an aide, "Get me out of here."

As Ann Althouse points out, "Once people have decided you're dumb, pretty much everything you say sounds dumb." That is now the problem for Miers -- and, by extension, the Bush administration.

posted by Dan on 10.26.05 at 11:56 AM


I have no comment about this entire subject. I will not pile on; I will not add to the drumbeat; I will not sing with the chorus or run with the herd. I will wait until the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings begin to offer an opinion. Such is the course of republican virtue.

posted by: Zathras on 10.26.05 at 11:56 AM [permalink]

I agree with Zathras. Let us not judge too quickly! After all, maybe she's good at baking pastry. I mean, she's a woman, she's 60. She could also brew coffee for the other justices.

posted by: Miers on 10.26.05 at 11:56 AM [permalink]

Brew a coffee, heh. Questions for Mark Buhner: you were commenting here that Miers was obviously part of a "triangulation" strategy that would kick Dems to the curb. Obviously too early to say whether or not Miers will be confirmed, but isn't it at least clear that that strategy was either a) nonexistent or b) woefully misguided in light of the drubbing she's getting from the right? I still am having a very hard time understanding her nomination. All speculation appreciated.

posted by: festus on 10.26.05 at 11:56 AM [permalink]

I think saying "I have no comment about this entire subject," then explaining why, actually constitutes a comment on the subject. (Otherwise what's the point of announcing one has no comment?)

The implicit comment is that the Senate hearings are everything. If she gives "good" answers, she's a "good" nominee; if she gives "bad" answers, she's a "bad" nominee.

I'm not comfortable with that. While I agree that casual spoken and written comments a nominee has made over the years shouldn't be the basis for evaluation, there's nothing wrong with reviewing a nominee's public life when forming an opinion on her. The choices she's made in regard to her career, the speeches she's given, the reaction of senators to personal meetings with her ... these are all perfectly reasonable pieces of evidence to use in evaluating Miers or any other nominee.

And, it is conceivable that that evidence would be sufficiently damning to lead one to oppose her nomination, even if she ends up giving "good" answers to the Judiciary Committee.

posted by: Andrew Steele on 10.26.05 at 11:56 AM [permalink]

Andrew, I had no comment on the subject, and still don't. I had, and gave, a comment on a different subject, which was the question of whether or not I had a comment on the first subject. Which I don't. So there.

posted by: Zathras on 10.26.05 at 11:56 AM [permalink]

She could also brew coffee for the other justices.

She could deliver Cokes to Clarence Thomas.

posted by: anonymous on 10.26.05 at 11:56 AM [permalink]

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