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

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The damage done?

In the Corner this morning, John Podhoretz responds to Hugh Hewitt's comments that "suggesting that Evangelicals are guilty of hypocrisy in this instance is exactly the perfect approach to pushing some of a crucial demographic towards the sidelines", and hence the GOP's chances in 2006 will be harmed.

First Hugh Hewitt, then JPod...

Some posters at ConfirmThem and other places are outraged by this observation, which seems to be to be completely beyond debate. The effect will happen. It is not a response to say it shouldn't occur, or that these Evangelicals are wrong or that they should know better. It will happen, and it will harm the GOP's position going into 2006.

The presumption, therefore, that the defeat or withdrawal of her nomination will cause millions upon millions of Evangelicals to stay home more than a year from now in a snit over the loss of their "identity politics" candidate -- as opposed to participating in the political process, as good citizens of this country do -- strikes me as tantamount to saying that a large number of Evangelical voters are looking for ways to cut off their noses to spite their face.

By my reading, I think JPod misunderstands what Hewitt is saying. I think Hewitt is referring to remarks such as those made by John Miller, which insinuated that Evangelicals were hypocritical for not reacting more strenuously to the news Miers had once headed the Texas Lottery Commission.

I think Hewitt is saying that whether evangelicals are right or wrong in opposing Miers, it is a mistake for the GOP to attack evangelicals for that dissent. Evangelicals will assume they are being abandoned (yet again) by their natural allies, and will not vigorously support the GOP in the future.

Indeed, this is a danger I see, too, and one reason I think the Miers nomination is a mistake. As David Frum wrote this morning, this pick might make Bush harden his position against the dissenters, and in doing so he will only cause the rift to widen.

I see an additional danger, though. By not making a strong conservative pick, Bush has broken faith with his evangelical base. Whether or not Miers turns out to be a good judge, evangelicals saw the best chance in 20 years to influence the Court go by the boards.

How are we going to trust the GOP again? What happens to the next person who comes along running for the Republican nomination to be President? Is he/she going to say "Vote for me, I'll nominate good conservative judges to the bench"? Who is going to believe them? Evangelicals are going to scoff, and say fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Who is going to pound the pavement telling their neighbors to support the GOP because of their commitment to an originalist Judiciary?

There is a danger in the GOP pushing away its most ardent supporters. But I argue that has already been done.

Watchman's Words invokes the name of Chamberlain.


  • At Wed Oct 12, 11:30:00 AM, Gary Matthew Miller said…

    Well said, friend. You grasp and outline this debacle better than most from an evangelical perspective.

  • At Wed Oct 12, 05:23:00 PM, hammerswing75 said…

    It becomes clearer as each day passes that Bush made a huge mistake with the Miers nomination. I think that it could easily be described as the biggest mistake of his presidency to this point. At the very least he should have done some work before the nomination to assure different conservative factions that Miers was a good nominee. Instead he just dropped the bomb. Where was Rove on this one?

  • At Wed Oct 12, 05:43:00 PM, Leo Pusateri said…

    The damage and rift is appearing to get larger by the day. At a time when Bush and the higher republican leadership need their base the most, they continue to insult the base's intelligence and belittle their concerns.

    This is just bad on so many levels.

  • At Wed Oct 12, 08:02:00 PM, Robert said…

    Jeff, thank you for placing the responsibility for the damage being done to the party where it belongs--not with those of us who object, but with the President who turned his back on us. I'm so tired of being told to "cowboy up" and get in line. It's hard to see a good result coming out of this.

  • At Wed Oct 12, 10:51:00 PM, Jeff said…

    I still am trying to figure out the political calculation the White House made here. Did they not see this storm coming? I can't believe they did, but why not?

    And from their woefully underprepared defense of Miers, this just doesn't seem to be a very professional job.


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