The Chamberlain Option

Why is George Bush in trouble today with the conservative base of his party? Why is he facing near-open revolt over the nomination of Harriet Miers? Perhaps more importantly, how severe is this split in the party, and who is responsible for it?

I've been contemplating these questions, and I'd like to advance one possible answer: The problems Bush is facing today are a result of his use of the Chamberlain Option. Faced with a grave threat from his opponents, he chose to surrender rather than fight in the hope of keeping a fragile peace. Chamberlain's proclamation on his return from Munich that "Now we have peace with honor; I believe it is peace in our time" made his name synonomous with appeasement. And of course, there was no peace, despite Chamberlain's craven capitulation to Germany. Giving in simply encourages the other side to come back for more.

Had Bush nominated Priscilla Owens, Edith Clement, Janice Rogers Brown, (boy I sure sound sexist don't I?) Michael Luttig, or Michael McConnell, there would have been war with the Democrats in the Senate. It is likely that any of those nominees would have sparked a filibuster fight (the one we should have had months ago). Who would have won? It's hard to say for sure. With so many wobbly Republicans in the Senate, it is possible the battle would have been lost. But it is also possible that with the battle joined in earnest, the base united and energized, and pressure brought to bear, that an outstanding, proven conservative nominee would have been confirmed to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.

Because Bush took the Chamberlain Option, we'll never know. What we do know is that an opportunity was missed that will never come again. Yes, it is possible, though by no means certain, that Bush will get to appoint another justice. But this particular moment in history is lost forever. And many of us who have been Bush's most loyal supporters are saddened and disappointed by his failure of will. It has become fashionable in some quarters to suggest that opposition to Harriet Miers should wait until the hearings so we know who she is. My opposition is based on who she is not--and nothing yet to come can change that.

A popular conservative, no, strike that, a popular Republican talk show host yesterday stated that any Republican who opposes Miers is supporting Hillary in 2008. Yes, the Republican party is being harmed...and not just for 08 but for 06 as well. But the responsibility for that does not lie with those of us who are standing for conservative principles, but with the President who has abandoned them, and us. By taking the Chamberlain Option and nominating Miers, Bush has forfeited his right to have us "trust him." He has not (and apparently cannot) advance a single shred of evidence beyond his cardiogram of Harriet Miers "I looked into her heart" that she is a constitutional conservative. Indeed the actual evidence rather than the faith-based kind points in entirely the opposite direction.

We need Churchill, not Chamberlain. On so many issues, especially the war on terror, the President has been a firm and stedfast leader. That is why it is even more disappointing that he has dropped the ball on the most lasting decision he will make.


At 8:00 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

An excellent post. Yes, we'll never know what kind of candidate we could have had if we were willing to fight.

The damage that is being done is to support among conservatives. If Miers turns out to be less than stellar, what happens to the next Republican guy that comes along wanting to run for President, and he says vote for me, I'll nominate conservative judges. What are conservatives going to say? We're going to say PPHHHPTPTTTTTT!!!!!

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Robert said...

It's not going to take until the next Presidential election. What's going to happen in 2006? Bush has better spend a lot of time praying that Miers does indeed get on the court before Thanksgiving so she gets a chance to vote on Ayotte (which will be heard on 11/30), and that she votes the right way. I think that's the Republicans' only chance for 06.


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