Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I can't believe it's Miers

As you are probably aware by now, the president selected Harriet Miers to be his nominee for Supreme Court. It is a pick that is ridiculously good for Democrats, and I will explain why.

-Among all the candidates that were on the president's short list, there is every indication that Miers is the most moderate. She does not rabidly hate gays, nor is it likely that she wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. She does not find international law to be anathema. Of course, there is much we still need to learn about her. She is very smart, but it seems not as brilliant as John Roberts so clearly was. Expect her to have a more difficult time in her hearings.

-Miers was apparently "selected" by none other than Harry Reid, our leader in the Senate. I am confident in giving him the benefit of the doubt.

-Miers is a close friend of President Bush. This means we get to club them over the head repeatedly with the "cronyism" meme that has been working so well for us ever since Mike Brown really messed up as the head of FEMA. The president values loyalty over competence and we get to say that every time this comes up in the news.

-Miers used to run the troubled Texas Lottery Commission. This will let use club Republicans with the "corruption" meme that is working so well. We have Tom Delay and the bloated Republican Machine in Texas to thank for this one.

-Miers was the president's legal counsel, the same job that Alberto Gonzales once held. Miers was in part responsible for crafting the "legal" maneuvering into the war in Iraq. Last time I checked, that war was not very popular. Yes, we will club them over the head with this meme. Furthermore, how close to our war policy was Miers? Was she in any way responsible for our pro-torture stance? With the second batch of torture photos and videos recently ordered released by a federal judge, this could end up being a very explosive question.

-The Miers pick has really, really upset the crazy conservatives. They really wanted this pick to be their moment in the sun. They wanted Scalito, or Janice R. Brown, or Luttig, or someone with a proven pedigree of radical conservative philosophy. They wanted a fight and they expected to win. The president has just proven what we've known all along. The Republican Party (and Bush in particular) uses social conservatives to win elections, but it has no intention of ever rewarding them with their prize. They will not get to see Roe overturned. In many ways, this was the sweetest plum of all.

-How likely is it that those same conservatives will turn out to vote in 06? In 08? This will certainly put a damper on their spirits. Time will tell if it has a lasting effect. In the short term, the Miers pick will probably mean that Bush's poll numbers drop; he'll lose support with his base.

-Ultimately the president will not be able to use Miers to turn away all the bad news cycles that have been damaging and weakening his position. It is very, very easy to fit Miers into the "Iraq" argument, or the "Cronyism" argument, or the "Corrupt" argument. The list goes on.

-Will Miers be filibustered from the right? Not likely, but it is very bemusing to see how quickly the crazies have called for their Senators to filibuster their own president's pick. It proves just how silly that "up-or-down-vote" rhetoric is. The filibuster IS part of an up-or-down-vote, we govern by consensus, not majority.

-With the president so clearly weakened, maybe more Democrats will feel emboldened and excited. Perhaps those wishy-washy leaders we all bemoan just might grow a spine. Imagine the entire Democratic Party as an army of tough-talking, hard-fighting Howard Deans. Yes, that is what I want.

Of course, Miers just might turn out to be a Scalia in sheep’s clothing. I'll be plenty upset with Reid and myself if that turns out to be the case. I don't think that is likely.

In the short term though (and this extends all the way to the 06 elections) I believe that this has been a big political win for Democrats.


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