COLUMN: Bush annoying the Base?

ichael McLaughlin

Last week I argued that the Democrats’ half-hearted attempt to fight off the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts was actually a rather good strategic move as it would allow them to put up a stouter defense against a more staunchly conservative nomination to O’Conner’s seat.

On the surface, it appears that this strategy has worked and that President Bush blinked as last week he nominated White House Chief Counsel Harriet Miers to fill O’Conner’s vacancy. This move could easily be considered at least a symbolic victory for Democrats as Miers was on the list of candidates acceptable for nomination, which, in turn, probably means she’s moderate enough to be as good as one could expect from this administration.

And yet for some reason, I feel a sense of unease about this pick, a malaise that has been eating away at me since her selection was announced.

The main cause for worry is she has no judicial experience whatsoever, having never even clerked for a judge. However, to be fair, plenty of good judges on the Supreme Court never served in so much as a Common Pleas Court before heading to the top bench in the land. (Rehnquist and Warren being the best examples depending on one’s political preference.) But one gets the nagging feeling that the only reason why Miers was selected was the president was familiar with her work in the White House.

Which brings us to the next problem: cronyism. While for all we know, Miers will prove herself to be an able selection to the court, by that same token, she might be yet another one of the dunderheads which gets named to the court from time to time. The problem is all we really have to go on is Bush’s word, and seeing as this is the same guy who named a former horse association director the head of FEMA, I think I can be excused for being a bit worried.

Surprisingly, I have allies on the right when it comes to this issue as many conservatives, such as George Will, have been in an uproar regarding her selection. Of course, they’re nervous for different reasons than I am. While I believe that Miers may not be cut out for the Supreme Court, there is a definite worry among many on the right that she’ll turn out to be nothing more than “Souter in a skirt.” After all, they have been fighting for this president over five years for this moment, the day where liberals could be “vanquished” once and for all and what did they get rewarded with? Someone with questionable conservative credentials and who, in 1988, donated money to Al Gore.

At the end of the day, all this complaining is somewhat pointless as without the formation of an odd bedfellows collation of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, she will be confirmed with ease. And the Dems will understandably end up going along with it, as she’s better than an actual bona fide conservative like Michael Luttig.

That logic doesn’t make the fact that she’ll be confirmed solely due to political calculus and her being, one can only presume, a nice old lady, right.

Michael McLaughlin is a senior history major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].