Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A 1s2 2s2p6 3s2p6d10 4s2p6d10 5s2p2 Ear

(That's Tin, for those of you who were too busy in high school duct taping skinny kids to flagpoles to study chemistry and physics)

There is a brush fire starting on the Right. At the moment it is smoldering, smoking. President Bush and his advisors have clearly caught a whiff of it. It remains to be seen how they choose to fight this fire, but I'm quite convinced pouring gasoline on it won't help.

This Washington Post article describes some of the anger behind the scenes, but look at this reaction from Ed Gillespie:

White House adviser Ed Gillespie suggested that some of the unease about Miers "has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism." Irate participants erupted and demanded that he take it back. Gillespie later said he did not mean to accuse anyone in the room but "was talking more broadly" about criticism of Miers.

It is troubling that the White House cannot acknowledge the deep dissatisfaction among conservatives stems not from elitism, but from a colossal disappointment the White House punted on this rare opportunity to put a bona fide conservative legal scholar on the Court. The defeat of the Bork nomination still stings today as much as it did then. Here was the chance to make up for that loss, but instead, we're given a mediocre candidate and told to deal with it.

As the Washington Post reports here, at a news conference Bush insisted that in nominating Miers, he "picked the best person I could find". By what possible standard can that be true? Does President Bush not realize the damage he does to his support among conservatives when he tells us to eat a mud sandwich and claims it's really chocolate?

The political bumbling in all this is perhaps what surprises me the most. Usually the White House has good political sense. One wonders how Karl Rove, Super Evil Genius, calculated the fallout, and if the White House simply misjudged.

More evidence of a tin ear can be seen in the way supporters of the pick belittle those who question the pick. They use pejorative terms like "carping" and "whining". As an example, here is Betsy Newmark's take:

What does irritate me is those conservatives who basically want to take their marbles and go home since they're disappointed in Bush's nomination. Fine, stay home next election. I hope your sanctimonious conservative purity is warm comfort through the years of Hillary's presidency. Remember that our choice is rarely between the perfect candidate and some other person. Mostly, we have to deal with two imperfect candidates and figure out which one would be less bad for the country. If you're lucky, there might even be a candidate you can like. My experience is that such politicians are rare.

Sanctimonious conservative purity? Betsy talks about simply dealing with bad candidates, but the fallacy here is President Bush has absolute control over the candidate he picks! The candidate doesn't fall from the sky at random. The President gets to decide who that candidate is.

Reining in the Judiciary, and its runaway activism, is at the very core of conservative motivations. When a President is given the historic opportunity to reform the Court, and fails to do so, do conservatives deserve snarky, belittling putdowns for their profound disappointment?

Lileks is one of my favorite writers out there. I'd give five years of your life for his wit. But like many wits, he seems to enjoy riling people up more than constructing serious arguments. This is Lileks today on the pick:

The wailing! The gnashing! The rending of garments! If the conservative reaction to Harriet Miers is any indication, Bush has no chance of winning a third term. The decision to appoint a relative unknown – or, given her proximity to the Bush inner circle, an unknown relative – has caused many on the right to open a vein and the let the despair flow out into the warm bath of misery, disappointment, and overextended metaphors. Why didn’t Bush clone Scalia in a dish and appoint him? Here, use some stem cells if you have to. Anyone but another Souter!

By contrast, Peggy Noonan, an eloquent voice for conservative principles, has a wonderful column at OpinionJournal today.

That having been said, the Miers pick was another administration misstep. The president misread the field, the players, their mood and attitude. He called the play, they looked up from the huddle and balked. And debated. And dissed. Momentum was lost. The quarterback looked foolish.

The president would have been politically better served by what Pat Buchanan called a bench-clearing brawl. A fractious and sparring base would have come together arm in arm to fight for something all believe in: the beginning of the end of command-and-control liberalism on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yes. If President Bush had nominated someone clearly intended to grab the Court by the throat and drag it back to its Constitutional roots, conservatives would have walked through fire for Bush. We would've carried him on our shoulders through the streets.

Instead, we're wondering why we are being attacked by our own for standing up for the principles we thought we all shared.

It pains me to say so, but I hope the Senate rejects the nomination. President Bush needs to understand he represents us. We are not simply supposed to "trust him". We sent him to the White House to be our champion. Instead, he's speared us in the back. The Senate still has a chance to call a do-over.

Captain Ed believes this is not the time for a big battle, but I disagree. If this isn't worth fighting over, nothing is.

(I just noticed Captain Ed also used the gasoline metaphor. I came up with it independently! No plagiarism here!)

JunkYardBlog comments on the trust-me moment.

Hugh Hewitt argues we look at the whole political picture. I agree to a point, but again, if we don't fight on this, we never will, and in the future, conservatives will not waste their energy fighting political battles they know will end in retreat.

Conservative Outpost finds some reasons to be supportive.

Austin Bay writes about a supporter of Miers.

The Evangelical Outpost wonders if this is a broken promise.

Jeremy at the Parableman blog argues we know too little about Miers to condemn the pick.

Some of my fellow MOBsters are sitting around the watchfires in my camp. See Bogus Gold, EckerNet, Psycmeistr.

The MAWB Squad is content if Miers votes with the conservatives.


  • At Thu Oct 06, 07:41:00 PM, johngrif said…

    Well said, Jeff.

    I still prefer the long view. Yet your disgruntlement makes sense.

  • At Thu Oct 06, 08:03:00 PM, Jeff said…

    With me it's not so much the person of Miers herself, it's the person we're not getting. So, yes, as you say, in the long term this may be a good pick, vote-wise (though I wish we could be more sure), and I eventually might be pleased with her voting record.


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