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The Selling of Harriet Miers, Part V:
Newsweek has an interesting story on how the White House is approaching the Miers nomination. An excerpt, describing the latest developments:
  The president has conservative allies of his own, chief among them a Jedi of Beltway combat, Newt Gingrich. New talking points were issued to them late last week, focusing on Miers's rather thin list of qualifications—bar-association presidencies, corporate legal work and a term as a member of the Dallas City Council. . . .
  The idea—the hope—is to generate some positive buzz with testimonials. Strategists have lined up endorsements and op-eds to be doled out day by day, one of them an Oval Office pageant of praise featuring former members of the Texas Supreme Court. Miers will work her way through a series of office visits with senators, with a fairly heavy emphasis on Republicans who have kept their distance so far.
  Thanks to Howard for the link.

  UPDATE: Time Magazine has more:
  The White House's 20-person "confirmation team" will line up news conferences, opinion pieces and letters to the editor by professors and former colleagues who can talk about Miers' experience dealing with such real-world issues as the Voting Rights Act when she was a Dallas city council member and Native American tribal sovereignty when she was chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission.
  And this part was interesting, too:
  Bush's friends contend that it is the conservative elite, not the President, who miscalculated and that self-righteous right-wingers stand to lose their seats at the table of power for the next three years. "They're crazy to take him on this frontally," said a former West Wing official. "Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it."
Medis:
It is interesting how we have come back full circle. Religion is back out, and "elitism" is back in, but on reflection it turns out that Miers is elite after all!

A little prediction: another of my favorite plays in the political playbook is the "We already dealt with that." An issue comes up for which you don't have a good answer, so you distract the critics with a different issue for a while. Then, when the critics try to come back to the first issue, you claim, "We already dealt with that."

So, when people start going back to reiterate their arguments about Miers' lack of qualification, I predict the reply will be along the lines of, "We already dealt with that."
10.16.2005 11:07am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
For Christ's sake just nominate Hilary Clinton and be done with it.
10.16.2005 1:01pm
Rhadamanthus (mail):
I am neither Republican nor Democrat, nor even American, yet I have to ask this. Is Bush or is he not a lame duck POTUS? He will never again run for election and he seems unlikely to leave a great legacy by forging a peace treaty between 2 bitter enemies. That being the case is there any conceivable reason why he has not gone for a fire breathing conservative?

The only possible explanation I can imagine is that he thinks Jeb has a shot at the Republican nomination and doesn;t want to cause him problems when he runs (or walks rather) for the White House.

As for the publicity campaign isn't this something that should have been done already? I'm baffled at how late the WH has left it to make an aggressive campaign of support to counter the landslide of criticism.
10.16.2005 2:25pm
Medis:
Rhadamanthus,

The most obvious, and perhaps most likely, explanation is that Bush himself is not a "fire-breathing conservative," and hence being free to do what he wants means that he can appoint a dear friend to the Supreme Court regardless of her political views.
10.16.2005 2:53pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Pres. Bush is not a "fire-breathing conservative", and neither is Miers. We can infer that Bush believes that Miers has political views similar his own. He may or may not be correct in that belief.

The real question for the US Senate is whether Miers is qualified for the Supreme Court, and the real question for the American public is whether Bush has fulfilled his campaign promise to appoint someone like Scalia or Thomas. We can hope that the hearings settle these questions.
10.16.2005 3:27pm
Defending the Indefensible:
I think it's pretty clear that Harriet Miers is in love with George W. Bush. So this is how he's sure he can trust her.
10.16.2005 3:29pm
Rhadamanthus (mail):
Fair points about Bush, I suppose he is a bit closer to the centre than his Dad.


I think it's pretty clear that Harriet Miers is in love with George W. Bush. So this is how he's sure he can trust her.


Amusing, though if true I fear she loses the last hope of confirmation- she will be condemmed as lacking judgement, taste and sanity!
10.16.2005 3:33pm
Brutus of the Junii:
Is being a slumlord a qualification for SCOTUS? If so, we have a strong nominee:

10 liens against her dilapitated low-income properties. This is the best candidate Bush could find?
10.16.2005 3:47pm
Brutus of the Junii:
http://bench.nationalreview.com/archives/079678.asp
10.16.2005 3:49pm
James of England:
It seems pretty unlikely that the hearings will settle those questions. For Souter, his first few years of judging didn't decide if he was a conservative. Hopefully, we'll all feel better after she's decided a few cases, but I'm not sure how safe we can feel about anyone after the hearings. You can get that they're smart and socially excellent, but the last guy who was felt to have done poorly in those tests was Thomas, who I believe to be the finest justice currently sitting.

I get the impression that a lot of the people who said that they wanted someone like Thomas and Scalia were really just wanting someone like Scalia. Can someone outline for me the reasons why Miers is so different to Thomas?
10.16.2005 3:58pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Here is the point I still can't get passed: it seems, to me at least, that when the president promised to appoint "strict constructionists," "non-activist jusges," and the like, he was actually saying: "don't worry I will appoint a Christian to the court who believes abortion is bad, all issues can and should be considered in a religious light, and that the person would vote the "Christian Way" on each particular issue." This is obvious; Republicans are traditionally supportive of State's Rights, yet we all have seen Ashcroft's view on the Oregon death with dignity law. I would bet a nice sum that Miers would vote against the law, saying the Ashcroft memo is valid. I will also bet she will speak relatively highly of State's Rights in the confrimation hearing.

What I am getting at is the fact that to me at least, it seems as though George Bush doesn't particulary care about the Constitutional or Statutory issues before the court, so long as someone with like religious beliefs decides cases based on that belief. If he did, he would have nominated a strong candidate with little to fight against.

That is the reason for which Roberts was confirmed; though a few senators voted no, there was no way to block Roberts, he was too good. He had experiance, he's brilliant, and he is respected. Miers has none of this; it doesn't make sense why Bush would try to fight for such a week candidate. Oh, yes it does; cronyism. It saddens me that Miers is the most qualified crony Bush had to nominate. I would have thought he had more intelligent, qualified, and experianced cronies to support him....
10.16.2005 4:45pm
Antonin:
I'm beginning to suspect Harriet Miers is part of a plot to set back the cause of women's equality by giving the public the impression that women SCOTUS candidates must be patently unqualified. Either that or Bush, angry that his base didn't give him the support he wanted when he was trying to reform Social Security, decided to blow his remaining political capital on sending an enormous middle finger their way.
10.16.2005 5:15pm
SimonD (www):
I'm very sad to see that Newt is still on this bandwagon. I had thought of him as a very serious presidential contender in 2008, and we can but hope he comes to his senses sooner rather than later.
10.16.2005 5:28pm
The Family:
So, are you guy like saying that brown-nosing is not like a total qualification and way cool skill-set? It's who you know, not what you know, c'mon! BTW, keep up the great work here -- you guys are like totally the greatest! We are so blessed and in awe!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!
10.16.2005 5:49pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
The Newsweek article demonstrates that publication's lack of understanding as regards what constitutes a "Jedi." Love him or hate him, Gingrich is a politician. And, as pointed out by no less than Obi-Wan Kenobi "politicians are not to be trusted."

Oh, wait a minute. As regards Harriet Miers, Bush said "Trust Me."

Maybe there was a statement in there by Newsweek after all.

Meditate on this we should, mmmm.
10.16.2005 6:15pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
... Thomas, who I believe to be the finest justice currently sitting.

I get the impression that a lot of the people who said that they wanted someone like Thomas and Scalia were really just wanting someone like Scalia. Can someone outline for me the reasons why Miers is so different to Thomas?
We wanted someone like Thomas and Scalia because those are the best on on the court, and because that is what Pres. Bush promised.

James of England, if you believe that Thomas is the finest on the court, then why do you wonder why we want another?

The reason that Miers is different from Thomas is that no one expects Miers to be the finest on the court. Admittedly, I did not expect Thomas to be so good, but when people say "like Thomas", they are referring to his excellent performance on the court, not his previous resume.
10.16.2005 7:32pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I am a huge Clarence Thomas admirer..I knew nothing about him in 1991,except I liked that he caught some flack for having allegedly watched some pornographic movies in the 70's,this from people who wanted government to fund said movies. The Judiciary comittee in 1991 was like a BAD pornographic movie what with that murderer Ted Kennedy,senile child rapist racist Strom Thurmond, and the mentally handicapped Howell Heflin..and I wont even mention Biden,Metzenbaum,etal...That said,,I think giving money to the Gore campaign,,NO MATTER what the circumstances should disqualify one from consideration for any position above shaver of pubic hair at the morgue.
10.16.2005 8:11pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
I hate to point out the obvious to Karl Rove and company but President Bush is ineligible to run for re-election in 2008 so any pathetic threats they may assert against true conservatives opposing the Miers nomination are falling on deaf ears.
10.16.2005 8:54pm
Cato the Elder:
There goes some more of that great White House reasoning that proves Miers is qualified. If someone disagrees, they won't "live to tell about it." Is that we have fallen to now? Threats?
10.16.2005 8:54pm
Matt.Bodie (mail):
So what is the move for the Democrats? Buddy up to the Prez and Miers, and hope that they will win points with both? Or, after some damage is done during her confirmation hearings over relatively minor matters, say that they are "disappointed" with her and vote her down? I assume that if she completely blows the hearings, she's going down, and if she's much better than expected, she's confirmed easily.
10.16.2005 9:06pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
I find the piece from the Time update to be interesting...


Bush's friends contend that it is the conservative elite, not the President, who miscalculated and that self-righteous right-wingers stand to lose their seats at the table of power for the next three years. "They're crazy to take him on this frontally," said a former West Wing official. "Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it." If a Justice Miers eventually takes her seat on the court, vocal critics can only hope the Bush Administration handles the punishment of the treasonous as poorly as it is currently promoting one of its most loyal subjects.


Let's see, what does this leave us with as the 'bullet-points' in the Harriet Miers marketing strategy:

- "Trust Us." From the President on down.

- "She's qualified because she is a lawyer, a former councilwoman, a litigator, a former ABA officer, former head of the Texas Lottery, has helped in the vetting of Bush-appointed judges, and has been the President's lawyer." [Bearing in mind that whenever these 'qualifications' are listed, there is NEVER any mention as to specifically what this indicates insofar as a judicial philosophy or stance on any particular issue.]

- She's a wonderful person.

- She's an Evangelical.

- She will faithfully interpret the Constitution. [Just exactly HOW she will 'interpret' it is pretty much alluded to with no specificity provided.]

- It's the elitist and sexist conservatives who are actively opposing her. [Does this mean he's doing something right or something wrong with the nomination if it is conservatives who are opposing her?]

And now, we have the ultimate selling point...

- If you vote against her, we're gonna get you.

So, to sum up... Conservatives who oppose Miers should shut up and trust that the President has found a qualified, wonderful, Evangelical who will faithfully interpret the Constitution; because, to do otherwise means you will not only sound both elitist and sexist, but you will be squarely placed in the President's cross hairs for career killin' political retribution and/or no longer allowed to make a contribution 'at the seat of power.'

What exactly does that mean for the Republican Party? What does it mean for 'moderates' who have supported the President despite cries from the left that he has succomb to the tempatations of autocratic rule and abused his Constitutional authority at various times?

Frankly, the marketing strategy now being employed by the White House is beginning to worry me MORE than Miers' unknown credentials. Hasn't anyone had the courage to point out to Miers's supporters that there is a difference between THE hard sell and A a hard sell? Where are the marketing graduates to point out that the hard sell on a hard sell is not always the most effective strategy; particularly when it doesn't seem to be working?
10.16.2005 9:10pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Orin, your flirtation with opposition to Miers only helps the terrorists. Why do want to help Osama Bin Laden?
10.16.2005 9:20pm
james23 (mail):
"They're crazy to take him on this frontally," said a former West Wing official. "Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it."

LMAO!

REid, Durbin and co call Bush a nazi for 5 years, and chooses a nominee from their list!
10.16.2005 11:19pm
SimonD (www):
A Guest-
I've mentioned this before, but I think part of the problem is simply that the WH simply has no experience with dealing with internal dissent. Facing it fo the first time, they've had no option but to turn on their own party the weapons they usually aim at the democrats.

Not to mention the fact that they are now utterly impotent. The threat of being shut out of the discussions for three years utterly pales between the potential of twenty five years of Justice Miers if she turns out to be another Souter. I'm a moderate Republican; I'm used to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Three years? Pfft - big deal. I can live with the peevish contempt of a lame duck who's going to be out of our hair forever in no time at all.
10.16.2005 11:21pm
Cornellian (mail):
Another theory is that GWB cares more about the Global War on Terror than any other issue, and he's betting that Miers will be a reliable vote in favor of executive power. So it's not that he doesn't care about any of the other issues likely to come before SCOTUS (although it's possible he doesn't), it's that he cares about being able to do what he wants in the GWoT, thinks there's a reasonable chance that Miers will adopt a conservative stance on other issues in addition to giving him carte blanche in the GWoT, and that's sufficient for him to give her the nomination.

The most obvious, and perhaps most likely, explanation is that Bush himself is not a "fire-breathing conservative," and hence being free to do what he wants means that he can appoint a dear friend to the Supreme Court regardless of her political views.
10.16.2005 11:23pm
Medis:
Cornellian,

Our theories are, of course, complementary.
10.16.2005 11:29pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
SimonD: Please allow me to clarify. It's not that Miers' lack of KNOWN qualifications doesn't worry me. Frankly, based on what we don't know and what we're not likely to discover in the public hearings, I think her nomination should be rejected by the Senate.

But, what now worries me even more is how, in their marketing of Harriet Miers, Bush seems bound and determined to undermine Republicans' chances vs. Hillary in '08. At this moment, Republicans do not have a 'legitimate' opponent to run against her. Condi has said, "I don't know how many ways I can say NO." Giuliani and McCain will probably not make it through the primaries in that Giuliani is too 'liberal' and McCain is too questionable.

Now, if one of the tests for '08 candidates is to separate themselves from Bush or stand up to him in this nomination - e.g., show support for the conservative base which strongly disagrees with Bush on this nomination - who is going to be the one to stand out from the pack and risk Bush's retribution? Especially if Bush's retribution either marginalizes their effectiveness between now and '08 or seriously undermines their ability to make themselves standout at all?

Based on those who know the Bush family, this is typical 'Bush' response. The circle of friends is very close and very difficult to become a part of. However, once you're in, loyalty is the primary factor involved with staying in. Any disloyalty from within or non-loyalty from without is viewed not only with vexation, it is severely punished.

Fine. And, as you allude to, a 39%-40% approval rating and a hostile Senate/House is not going to help you easily wreck havoc politically on your opponents - PROVIDED - you don't align yourself with the opposing party. I think that is what concerns conservative Republicans regarding these threats.

Miers has become a focal point for many, conservative discontents with this President. In fact, it has been reported by pundits such as Kristol and Krauthammer that this discontent has been roiling just under the surface, but was kept in check during the campaign last year given that none of the polls showed that Bush was readily going to win. Thus, we return to my becoming more concerned about this strategy by the White House. If we are seeing the beginnings of an ideological split between the President and the Senate/House, this could hurt us in the next three years; only one example of which is what might happen if Bush were to get yet a third shot at a Supreme Court nominee.

So far, Republicans have had the advantage of being able to point to Democrats as 'obstructionist' and as 'not having a coordinated, or any, message.' What I see is the Republicans beginning to lose this advantage. If this marks the beginning of three years where the President and Congress are at odds - even though they are of the same party - what does this mean in terms of '06 and '08? If the electorate perceives that giving the Republicans majority control in both Congress and the White House isn't accomplishing anything, what's the alternative?

I shudder at what the result might be.
10.17.2005 12:45am
Shelby (mail):

Bush's friends contend that it is the conservative elite, not the President, who miscalculated and that self-righteous right-wingers stand to lose their seats at the table of power for the next three years. "They're crazy to take him on this frontally," said a former West Wing official. "Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it."


To the extent the anti-Miers conservatives stick together, Bush needs them more than they need Bush (or rather, more than they need to avoid alienating Bush). Without them he can't accomplish much; without him, they're still a force. Fortunately there can't be more than three or four bloggers who care whether they "lose their seats at the table of power" because they know they've never had one. So I expect the right-wing blogosphere, at least, to remain honest.

james23, however inarticulately, has a point, as does SimonD.

For all this talk about what a strong vote Miers will be for executive authority (a strike against her, IMO), what if the authority she's bolstering is contrary to current conservative desires? What if a liberal Democrat wins the presidency and needs to override a hawkish or conservative legislature. Will the pro-executive Miers back that? If not, why not? Because she's actually results-oriented? How does this cut in favor of conservatives backing her? Remember, Bush is only president for 3 more years.
10.17.2005 2:48am
Challenge:
"They're crazy to take him on this frontally."

BRING IT ON, MR. PRESIDENT! =)
10.17.2005 3:37am
Huggy (mail):
President Bush will have a large say in how billions of dollars will be spent to rebuild the Gulf coast region. After that he will be a lame duck.
10.17.2005 8:16am
roy solomon (mail):
We wanted someone like Thomas and Scalia because those are the best on on the court, and because that is what Pres. Bush promised.


Except that he didn't. He said no judicial activists.
10.17.2005 9:23am
SomeJarhead (mail):
The short game: The GOP stands to lose the House in 2006.

The long game: The President will have to start vetoing budget legislation (a good thing) or may even be cornered into a government shutdown (a great thing).

The strategic view: A Democrat House begins impeachment proceedings.

Limbaugh got it right; this is a crackdown. You leftists should be terrified.
10.17.2005 9:51am
Kazinski:
I think that is just Time magazine trying to egg on a fight among conservatives. I like and respect Bush and am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on Miers. But I would much rather have had someone more conservative even if it resulted a more contentious process. Bush's power base rests on his ability to deliver votes; W. has repeatedly exhibited significant coat tails. That is something Clinton and Bush I were never able to demonstrate. In fact Clinton had negative coat tails. But Bush's coat tails were the result of the trust of the conservative movement in Bush, to say we are going to start eating our own because W. tells us to is fantasy. The vast rightwing conspiricy is bigger than any one man.
10.17.2005 12:34pm