10/07/2005

Sun Tzu, Elitism, Cowboy Up and Harriet Miers

My conversation with John from Blogotional on the Harriet Miers nomination continues with his latest response. Again, he begins with a point on which we are in complete agreement. The implications of the current intramural arguments for the 2006 elections are dire. Given the logistics (few Republican vulnerable seats in the Senate, gerrymandered districts in the House) I'm still not convinced the Dems will take control of either body, but that possibility can no longer be completely discounted. I suspect that we disagree over who's fault this is though--I place the blame squarely at Bush's feet for turning his back on his base, and my guess is that John thinks it belongs with people like me. Anyhow, on to the show.

John disagrees with my assessment of the impact of the initial invasion of Iraq, citing the fact that we are now fighting mostly foreign terrorists (they are not insurgents!) rather than Iraqi citizens. That is true today, but it was not the case two years ago. When the decision was made to disband the Iraqi Army, it still contained an estimated 350,000 men (according to CNN which isn't the most reliable source, but you have to use what you can find) a number remarkably similar to the pre-war strength estimates of the CIA (again, not the most accurate source)! The initial lawlessness and looting that followed the overthrow of Saddam, and the early stages of guerilla warfare we faced were a direct result of our failure to destroy enough potential terrorists in the roughly three weeks of active fighting. Reports at the time indicated we were bribing Iraqi generals not to fight. That saved time and lives in the short term, but had devastating long term effects. If we had done a better job fighting and winning and restoring order then, we would not be seeing all those foreign terrorists roaming Iraq and killing our men and women today. Sometimes a fight is preferrable to avoiding a fight.

John describes my critique of Mier's resume as one that "smacks of elitism." I didn't say anything about the school she attended or the butts she kissed (his two cited sources of how people get credentials--which seems a little cyncial). My point is that she is not a top flight candidate for the bench. I'm reminded of what Sen. Hruska said of the also unqualified Judge Carswell, appointed by Nixon, "It has been held against this nominee that he's mediocre. Well there are a lot of mediocre judges and lawyers and people. Most of the American people are mediocre. And they have a right to be represented on the Supreme Court." And if I hear one more person cite Miers' service as White House Counsel as proof of her qualification, I think I'm going to pull out what little remains of my hair. She filled that job for six months! Before that she was staff secretary (where she was noted for correcting the punctuation in people's memos) and deputy chief of staff (where she was known for not being able to make a decision). It is not elitist to ask for a candidate for the job who has actually shown achievement in relevant areas. I'm sure Mike Brown did a "heck of a job" as head of the International Arabian Horse Association, but that hardly qualified him to run FEMA. I'm sure Julie Myers did a "heck of a job" picking out the right uncle and marrying the right guy, but that hardly qualifies her to run ICE. Where is Mier's relevant experience for the job? Anyone?

John wrongly cites Roe as the source of the idea that there are rights not mentioned in the Constitution. Actually that goes back to Griswold. He asserts that I am making my opposition to Miers on "issue questions." Instead my argument is that her philosophy (what little we know of it) does not match conservative principles. She apparently argued for the Bush administration's inexcusable support of the University of Michigan in the affirmative action case. She apparently argued against the limits on stem cell research that eventually went into effect. Again I say there is not a single shred of evidence that she is "in the mold of Scalia and Thomas." Yet that is the standard we were led to expect by Bush.

Finally, John says the time to speak out is before the nomination. Afterward we should just "Cowboy Up" and support the President. I couldn't possibly disagree more. The President does not deserve our unquestioned support and loyalty. He deserves our support when he is right. When he is not, we should oppose "the leader of our party." Otherwise we are placing party over principle, and that's no fit position for a conservative. Yes, it may weaken his position if we do not blindly fall in line behind him. But if he's wrong, we're all better off in the long run if he doesn't win. To use Rush's tactic of illustrating by being absurd, let's take this example. President Reagan has decided to sell arms for hostages. Horrible idea, but he's the leader of our party, so we should just cowboy up and get behind him. Doesn't make much sense does it? The truth is that conservatives did speak out--did write memos and emails and make phone calls--before the President picked Miers...he just didn't listen. Here's what Lileks had to say:

Yes, the base would be happier if the Republicans acted like a party that had won all the elections, and pursued its agenda as unapologetically and brazenly as some accuse. But what does one expect? The operative word in that sentence is “Republicans,” the party that dare not speak its own name. If it’s pronounced Conservative, that is.

John closes with yet another point with which I wholeheartedly agree--term limits for judges is a horrible idea. It shouldn't even be considered.

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