10/05/2005

A Conservative Conversation

I began a conversation yesterday with John Schroeder, proprietor of the excellent Blogotional, (and fellow Hugh Hewitt Blog of the Week Award Winner) in the comments section of his blog regarding the Harriet Miers nomination. I suggested to him that we continue the debate, and he had already responded to my comparison of Bush and McClellan. Much of the conservative conversation regarding Miers has been filled with more heat than light, and my goal is that we'll be able to focus on the issues.

John wrote:

"Yet we Republicans keep swinging for the fences, and losing as a result. Why can the whacko idealists of the left get the idea that a small victory is better than a loss, while the right just
wants to sulk."

I fail to see how nominating Harriet Miers is swinging for the fences. It still looks to me like settling for half a loaf without even trying for the whole thing. The old proverb "May as well hang for a sheep as a lamb" comes to mind. Maybe the Republicans in the Senate wouldn't have supported one of the large number of top-notch, known quantities available, but we don't know that--and now we never will. Sometimes it serves useful purposes to fight a battle and lose (Goldwater, paging Mr. Goldwater). It identifies your friends, your enemies, and your principles for everyone to see. I am not in favor of fighting for the sake of fighting (well, at least not most of the time), but if we're not willing to fight for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, what battle is ever going to be worth it? I don't want to sulk, I want to win. But if I'm not going to win, I'd at least like to have made an effort.

Patrick Henry said, "They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Shall we gather strength but irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power."

"Trust us" Dick Cheney said to (a very unhappy) Rush Limbaugh. But why? We know that Laura Bush, who is anything but a pro-life conservative, pushed hard for a woman nominee. Why should we trust a nominee brought from her persuasion? What is known for sure about Harriet Miers? That she brought coffee and donuts to her church is admirable, but hardly proof of conservatism, let alone a qualification for the Supreme Court. The truth is that George Bush always speaks conservative, but look at the actual record:

Campaign finance reform
--he signed a bill that he said was unconstitutional. Not good.
Government spending--hasn't vetoed a single bill; pork is flowing like flood waters (mixed metaphor, but accurate).
Immigration--Julie Myers???? ARRGH. Even in wartime, he does not take controlling our border seriously!
Affirmative action--setting aside this nomination, how about the University of Michigan case?

I'm a conservative first and a Republican second. The party may be well served (although I'd even argue with that) by blind loyalty to our leader, but the movement certainly is not. The notion that because Bush did something we should all just salute and fall in line is a dangerous recipe for the future. I think we ought to be able to say he blew it when he blew it...and on Harriet Miers, he blew it!

She may turn out to be Scalia's voting partner on every case for the next 15 years (which brings up the additional failure of putting a 60 year old on the court), but that would still not change the fact that Bush could have picked a much better qualified, proven, known, tested conservative for the seat.

Over to you John.

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