Much Better

They say that practice makes perfect, and President Bush did a whole lot better on his second attempt than he did on his first. No one is going to question either the conservative credentials or the qualifications of Samuel Alito. And unless I miss my guess, we are now going to get the fight over the court that's been brewing since 87 (or more accurately 69).

Two quick observations. All those who said the Republican party was splintered beyond repair are going to be quickly disappointed. Alito will receive less Republican carping than even Roberts. All factions of "the band" will be one the same page of music for this one.

But, by nominating Miers first, Bush has handed his enemies a powerful stick to beat Alito with--and I'm sure they'll use it with glee. We're going to hear so much about how Bush caved in to the right wing and put up this extremist. If he hadn't thrown up an unproven entity like Miers, they wouldn't have had that opportunity. That doesn't mean the Democrats would have supported Alito in the first place; just that they would have had one less easy talking point for the media wing of the party to repeat.


Tide Rolls On

In another dominant performance against inferior opposition, Alabama ran its record to 8-0 yesterday for the first time since 1994. Everybody's happy. Bama got the win, the homecoming crowd got to party, and Utah State got half a million bucks for serving as a sacrificial lamb. Three SEC games remain. This season is making up for a lot of the pain of the past few years. Just have to keep it rolling.


The "Religion of Peace" Strikes Again

Three Christian Teenage Girls Beheaded in Indonesia (from In the Bullpen):

JAKARTA (Agencies): Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded Saturday in the latest attack against non-Muslims in the troubled Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, police said. The three high school students were found with their heads severed early Saturday in the sectarian-divided town of Poso, said provincial police spokesman Rais Adam. The girls were believed to have been murdered while they were walking to school, Adam said.

Do not for one minute forget why the war on terror matters--these are the people who want to destroy us and our way of life. And they will if we do not win.


Kos Patch Not Sincere Enough; Great Pumpkin Doesn't Indict Rove

Tempest, meet teapot.

Despite the fervent hopes and dreams of many on the left, after two years of investigation, Patrick Fitzgerald made no charges under the referral of "outing" a covert CIA agent. Instead he brought cover-up charges only against Scooter Libby. In a move reminiscent of the Martha Stewart case, Libby was not charged with the alleged crime for which he was investigated, but rather for obstructing the investigation. This is a pale imitation of what the left had longed to see come from this investigation.

Some labeled it "Fitzmas" as they hoped for indictments against numerous White House officials, most especially Karl Rove. Instead of Christmas, I'm reminded more of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Linus spends the whole night waiting in a pumpkin patch rather than enjoying the trick-or-treating and the Halloween party. He believes that if he is sincere enough, the Great Pumpkin will appear. After spending the night waiting with him in vain, Sally turns on Linus in anger and disgust. I think we're going to see that same anger directed at Fitzgerald by those on the left who had placed so much hope in him to deliver the political death-knell for Karl Rove.

Linus: "You've heard about fury in a woman scorned, haven't you?"
Charlie Brown: "Yes, I guess I have."
Linus: "Well, that's nothing compared to the fury of a (Kossack) who has been cheated out of (a Rove indictment)."

It Isn't Borking

There's a growing meme among the ranks of Harriet Miers defenders that she has been "Borked." This is a dangerous falsehood with serious future implications for the conservative movement. Today one prominent commentator said "But no fair reader who actually reviews what was written, said, and done over the past three-plus weeks will deny the neoBorking that occurred. It just isn't possible to do so." In addition to being yet another argument by personal attack--if you don't agree with me you're not fair-minded--this statement is demonstrably false on its face. If we want to heal the breach caused by the President with his nomination of Harriet Miers, we're going to have to be honest about what really happened.

When Ted Kennedy went to the floor of the Senate to attack Judge Bork, he described, "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution." Of course this was a completely distorted set of lies, not based on any evidence at all.

When principled conservatives raised questions about Harriet Miers' lack of credentials, not to be a judge, but as to whether she was a proven constitutional conservative, we asked (repeatedly) her defenders to provide evidence. That is not Borking. We asked (repeatedly) for something better than "Trust me." That is not Borking. We asked (repeatedly) for proof of her commitment to judge "in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. That is not Borking.

What we got instead were her own past words and actions promoting affirmative action, arguing in favor of racial quotas, promoting feminist ideology, deriding the Federalist Society (under oath), and sounding a very uncertain note on abortion. Pointing these facts out is not Borking. Her defenders simply dismissed these troubling signs, refusing to grant them any weight. in fact, the more the evidence accumulated, the louder they became in deriding it. But in the absence of a single shred of proof of her conservatism beyond the "trust me" kind of personal testimony, how else are we to evaluate?

Lying about a person with the intent to destroy them is Borking. NRO made a factual error in saying Miers had not written for law reviews. They corrected that error immediately when it was pointed out to them. That is not Borking. People (including me) said the President had failed to fulfill his campaign promise regarding the kind of judge he would appoint. Unless someone has evidence to demonstrate she is a constitutional originalist, and if they had surely it would have been presented at some point during this painful saga, the statement stands unchallenged. That is not Borking.

A Complete Misunderstanding of History

Not content to slander principled conservatives by calling us cannibals and saying we "Borked" Harriet Miers--neither of which is true--John at Blogotional today repeats one of the liberals' favorite canards against Ronald Reagan. He wrote:

Reagan was "The Great Communicator." Churchill won the war with his words. Reagan turned the country around, less because of his policy and more because he made people feel good about being Americans again, using his communication skills.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It absolutely was Reagan's conservative policies--tax cuts, strong military, pro-America--that changed people's views and turned this country around. Yes, he was an incredibly gifted speaker, but then so was Bill Clinton (for all his other faults). You cannot turn a nation around simply with well-chosed and well-spoken words. Those words must convey ideas--deep seated beliefs and principles--that have the power to shape people's thoughts and dreams.

It is really disappointing to see a good conservative like John fall into the liberal trap of degrading the power of President Reagan's deeply-held conservative beliefs.


It's Never Been Said Better

I am the political animal in the family. It is rare that my wife gets stirred up enough about an issue to drive her to action, but the Miers nomination actually got her going---and boy should she get going more often. In all the thousands of words spoken and written about the Miers nomination, it's never been said better than she did:

I don't think the "Sunday School Teachers" should be punished for wanting their president to follow through on his promises with an open book nominee. We have been burned before. We have been promised a judge that would think like us. So many worked for that specific reason. So to say wait and see is basically the same song, second Bush. I feel we had a right to disagree. And I don't think we "Borked" her.

Babe you rock. If the President knew what was good for him, he'd call on you for advice!

Sour Grapes from the Pro-Miers Ranks

Much weeping and wailing has gone on over the split in the Republican ranks caused by the nomination of Harriet Miers. Those of us who opposed her have been blamed for the tone of our rhetoric. Oh really? Here's what I've found already this morning said about people like me.

According to D J Drummond, we're [illegitimate].

According to John at Blogotional, we're cannibals.

According to Lowell at Hedgehog, we're "unfair, short-sighted, and guilty of flabby reasoning"

Somehow I don't think that kind of language supports healing an intra-party rift. And one final thing. Could we please stop talking about this as Borking? That's an insult to an infinitely qualified and proven conservative judge--a man who was everything Harriet Miers was not. There is no comparison or correlation between the two.

Not a Victory Yet

I am delighted (though somewhat surprised) that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Supreme Court. The President made a horrible mistake in choosing her, and in so doing created a deep rift within his own party. (And the responsibility for the rift rests solely on his shoulders.) But this is not a victory yet.

Until the President fulfills his most important campaign promise and nominates a constitutional conservative--a proven constitutional conservative--for the position, nothing has been gained. If he tries to sneak another moderate buddy like Gonzales in, those of us who are conservative should respond in exactly the same manner. In an ideal world, the Supreme Court would not hold the level of importance it has improperly assumed over the past few decades. But it does; and therefore replacing O'Connor with a judge "in the mold of Scalia and Thomas" is imperative.

As for the Democrats, their talking points this morning have proven yet again that many of them will never support any judge nominated by this President. They are gleefully slamming the Republican right wing--and I'm glad to take that coming from them. Yes, her nomination was defeated by conservatives--which should send a message to the President. I hope and pray that he will listen.


Responsibility--Part Two

Sean from The American Mind posted on the question of responsibility: A politician is selected by his constituents for his judgement. He is not a rubber stamp of the public's will. The politician shouldn't come to his decision based on opinion polls. He's in office to use his mind and mouth to do what he thinks is right. The constituents have the opportunity to judge him at election tim or if the politician is really bad by recall.

Similarly, constituents must use prudence in determining if the politician has broken a campaign promise and for what reason. The constituents have to examine whether the political, economic, or cultural environment has changed to make the promise impossible to fulfill or to drain the politician's reserve of political capital so as to make him unless in tackling other issues. Few politicians run solely on one issue. Likewise, most voters don't care only about one issue. It becomes a process of weighing the costs and benefits of addressing particular issues.

Big Ben (this week's Blog of the Week winner--sorry Jeff!) from Hammerswing75 weighs in: Conservatives owe Bush nothing because he's the employee not the boss. He made a lousy choice. He can be stubborn if he wants to, but we are not beholden to him. He needs to snap out of it. He screwed up. I don't want an apology. I want a decent nominee. If he needs to stick with this nominee for political reasons then he had better let us in on the secret. I don't care if she's a woman. Her gender means zero.

I want a jurist who respects the constitution and will use it as THE primary resource. There are millions of Americans who, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, could understand the constitution better than Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens et al...

My take tomorrow (hopefully).


Answering the Hard Questions

On his blog this morning, Hugh Hewitt says that the "anti-Miers" crowd routinely dodges the hard questions. Then he lists them (Hugh's questions in bold), and challenges her opponents to answer them. Here's my take.

Does George W. Bush deserve any loyalty from his party? From pundits identified with his party? If so, how much and why not more?

Dissent is very different from disloyalty. It is not disloyal to say that the President has failed to keep his promise to his supporters. President Bush has done many things that are worthy of admiration and respect. He has also unfortunately done many things that are not even close to conservative. Therefore he is not entitled to a free pass, and when his actions raise serious questions, he should not be surprised to see them raised by those of us who are on his side. The President is not well-served by blind loyalty and yes men. Those who check their judgment at the door are not his true friends or supporters.

Do Harriett Miers' many accomplishments count for nothing?

None of Harriet Miers' accomplishments indicate that she would enter the court as (and remain throughout her lifetime appointment) a conservative constitutionalist in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. Therefore, those accomplishments do not count as credentials to demonstrate that she is what President Bush promised his appointments would be.

Does Harriett Miers strike the commentator as a dedicated public servant?

Not particularly. She served one term on the Dallas City Council, and has followed the President up the ladder of government, but nothing she has done shows any real notable dedication to public service.

Why not wait for the hearings to at least begin?

Nothing that will be said in the hearings will be able to demonstrate a consistent pattern of conservative constitutional thought on her part. If such evidence existed, the White House would certainly have brought it forward by now. Therefore nothing in the hearings can answer the question of why what's "in her heart" should substitute for evidence of what's in her head. Further, if her nomination is withdrawn rather than defeated, the political fallout is less.

How important is it that Roe v. Wade/Casey be reversed?


Which five precedents does the commentator think are in most pressing need of reversal?

In no particular order: Lemon, Kelo, Roe, Griswold, and Rancho Viejo v Norton (just for you, Hugh!)

Does the commentator agree with George Will's assertion of Justice Lewis Powell as the "embodiment of mainstream conservative jurisprudence?"


Is a neo-Borking underway which will discredit the conservative cause's defense of its future nominees against similar, future attacks from the left?

No. Using the shameful treatment of the unquestionably brilliant and qualified constitutional conservative Robert Bork by his enemies as a description for what is happening to Harriet Miers cheapens Bork's experience. No one is lying about Miers the way Kennedy and others lied about Bork. And Bork himself, who knows a little about conservative judges, strongly opposes this nomination.

What are the political consequences of a defeat of Miers at the hands of a GOP controlled Senate?

Less than the long-term consequences of putting another Sandra Day O'Connor on the court. If Miers fails to turn out as Bush promises, the conservative base of the party will be fractured for decades. And whatever consequences might come from her defeat should be laid squarely at the feet of the man who put his party in this position--the President.

The Lament of Victor Frankenstein

No one has done more to promote the growth of the right side of the blogosphere than Hugh Hewitt. He has encouraged at least hundreds if not thousands of conservatives and Republicans to enter the blogging world with his book and tireless promotion on the radio and in personal appearances. He even started a "Blog of the Week" contest (that I was fortunate enough to win a few weeks back) to encourage bloggers. Today I wonder if he isn't regretting his success.

For, like Frankenstein's monster, the creature he helped bring to life and nurture has escaped his control and is working powerfully against his desired ends. Hugh supports the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court; in fact, it would not be too much to say that she has no stronger or more vocal supporter in her corner.

In his latest exposition, he wrote: "Given these stakes, though, I was surprised, and remained surprised, at how quickly the assault on the nominee began, and how it escalated in intensity and rhetorical excess as the weeks have passed." But why should Hugh be surprised? That is the nature of the blogosphere--you get instant reaction to everything that happens. "Live-blogging" everything from presidential debates to football games gives people the opportunity to express their immediate impressions and reactions. And the blogosphere does not respond to the power structure of any political party. It has a will (or wills) and a mind (or minds) of its own, and leaders don't get to pick and choose

I put up my first post about Harriet Miers at 6:55 (Pacific) on the morning her nomination was announced. I did that immediately on hearing the news on television--I didn't wait for Bill Kristol, National Review, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham or anyone else to tell me what to think. I knew why I didn't like the nomination, and by the way, if the President was truly surprised by the response, it's because his staff totally failed him. There are millions of people they could have asked who would have told them how people would respond.

The leveling power of the new media is a sword that cuts both directions. The Republican Party benefited mightily from it during the 2004 election. It is not too bold a point to say that the 60 Minutes story, in the days of a single dominant media, would probably have sealed the election of John Kerry. But the blogosphere's quick and intense response defeated the once-mighty CBS and Dan Rather.

The genie cannot be put back into the bottle. Control of information and dominance of the discussion has passed beyond the purview of a privileged few. As much or more than anyone else, Hugh brought this to pass. He has used his energy and talents to give opportunity for a voice to people like me who previously had no means to influence others. I listen to him almost every day, I enjoy his humor and I usually agree with him. I've expressed the reasons for my disagreement on the Miers nomination, but the point of this post is to look at the nature of the blogging world. It truly is beyond the ability of anyone to control. And on balance, I think that's a good thing.

Live from the Border

Kit at Euphoric Reality has the transcript of an interview with members of the Texas Minutemen. Here's just a taste: Night after night, our guys have been calling BP and turning in 5, 16, 9 , 20+ at a time. The BP has responded very quickly and they have been a pleasure to work with. So has Sheriff Samaniego’s office. They have been courteous, warn us to obey the law - which we do - and they have run off troublemakers who were breaking the law via trespass or various other violations.

In the real world, the failure of the Bush Administration to get serious about enforcing our border is the single most dangerous threat to our national security. It's a shame that the government won't do it, but the Minutemen are making a difference.

Responsibility--Part One

Here are some of the early answers I've received to the question posed regarding the responsibilities of the President and his supporters when there is a disagreement, and how that plays out in relation to the Miers nomination.

From Voyle Glover, a very smart attorney: Supporting one's President is, in my opinion, unrelated to his keeping of promises made to his supporters. I will, in general, support President Bush for the following reasons: (1) the alternative is to support the other side or someone who has no power; and (2) my support of him is with a realization that he's going to disappoint me; and (3) my support is based less on party affiliation and more on righteousness and the assumption that I've made, to wit, that God placed him in that position and He will take responsibility for all "mistakes" made /smile

From Jeff Kouba (the Susan Lucci of Blogs!): It pains me to say so, but I hope the Senate rejects the nomination. President Bush needs to understand he represents us. We are not simply supposed to "trust him". We sent him to the White House to be our champion. Instead, he's speared us in the back. The Senate still has a chance to call a do-over. So, when President Bush starts saying things like "I picked the best person I could find", I start tightening my belt, because that can't possibly be true, and someone is trying to blow smoke where I don't want it.

From Lores Rizkalla at Just a Woman: If I had to make a decision based on what I know right now, I would have to say that I oppose the Miers nomination.I hate to say it because I trust our president. But, this is not simply about trust or about him. At the end of the day, it is the president who has the authority to choose his candidate. That is his constitutional right. No debate about that. The debate in my mind has more to do with whether he followed wise counsel. I've said before that so many of us went to the polls, we even flew to battleground states to in order to elect the president who would select the strict constructionist judicial nominees.It didn't have to be this complicated. We didn't go to the polls to ensure a female justice. We didn't go to the polls to ensure a born-again justice. We didn't go to the polls to ensure a friend of the president as a justice. We went to the polls to ensure a justice who would uphold the constitution. That's it.

More tomorrow (including some words from your host).


Which Way Does the Arrow of Responsibility Point?

It's no secret that I oppose the Miers nomination. By naming Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, President Bush has sparked a firestorm of disagreement and rancor within the Republican party--or at least the conservative part of it. My hope is that after she either withdraws or is defeated that the President will nominate a proven and unquestionably qualified conservative to replace O'Connor on the bench. But I want to step back from that disagreement for a moment and look at a crucial aspect of the underlying picture.

When it comes to the subject of loyalty and support, who owes whom? To what degree does a President owe his supporters the fulfillment of his campaign promises? To what degree do a President's supporters owe him their support when he does not (or appears to not) fulfill those promises? Who bears the responsibility for a split in ranks--the leader or the followers?

I am asking a number of bloggers from both sides of the issue to weigh in on this, and I'll be sharing their responses with you as they come in. In the meantime, please feel free to throw in your two cents in the comments. And of course I'll be throwing in my thoughts as well on which way the arrow of responsibility points.

Coach Bear Would Have Loved It

Alabama's 6-3 win over Tennessee Saturday was a throwback to the old days--hard hitting defense, forcing crucial turnovers, and big plays on special teams to set up points. Coach Bear would have loved it. Tennesse had first and goal three times...and scored only three points. A defense that rises up and stuffs the other team was the hallmark of the great championship teams of the great coach. (The 61 team--his first national title winner gave up 25 points in 11 games!)

And for the first time in Mike Shula's tenure, the Tide rose to the challenge and beat one of our two traditional rivals...and at the same time Auburn was discovering the meaning of wide right, wide left, and off the goal post, missing five field goals in an overtime loss to LSU. If Bama can find a little more offense (boy do we miss Tyrone Prothro!), we've got a decent shot at running the table. Wow. Who would have thunk it?


The Fastest Three Days of my Life

On the sundial in our back yard is the inscription tempus fugit. Never has that Latin proverb proven more true than the past three days. Our time with our daughter home from college is rapidly drawing to a close. It's been wonderful to have her here again. The house is more like home when she's here.

Right now she and her mother are putting up the fall decorations. And at least I know she's coming home again in another month for Thanksgiving! I'll start counting the days tomorrow.


Character or Stubborness?

Bill Oncken (author of the single best book on business--and life--management I've ever read Managing Management Time) said, "What we describe as stubborness in children, we attribute to strength of character in adults." There is a time and a place for sticking to your guns, for standing alone, for refusing to be defeated by refused to admit defeat.

When Bear Bryant was coaching his second year at Texas A&M, his team trailed Rice by a score of 12-0 late in the fourth quarter. Led by Gene Stallings and other survivors of the previous year's training camp/death march at Junction, the team rallied to score 21 points in the final three minutes and win the game. Stallings said after the game that it never occured to him that the team would lose. That's character.

The President has character. He's stood against the tides for pretty much his entire tenure in office. He's faced a hostile press, a threatening world, and a divided nation. He has stood for his principles, and I admire him for that. But with Harriet Miers, he has crossed from character into pure, unmitigated stubbornness. He made a mistake. And the longer it takes him to acknowledge that and fix it, the worse things are going to get, both for him and for his party.


N-O-M-I-N-E-E (with apologies to Tammy Wynette)

Our Court has an opening and Bush picked this woman
He tried to spell out the reasons but we don't understand
Like W-A-I-T or maybe T-R-U-S-T M-E
But the views she's hiding from us now
Tear the heart right out of me.

Our N-O-M-I-N-E-E is a joke today
We wonder if R-O-E will be goin' away
I wanna back Bush and it will be pure H-E double L for me
Oh, I wish that we could stop this N-O-M-I-N-E-E.

Watch her smile, she thinks it's Christmas
Or her confirmation day
And she thinks S-E-N-A-T-O-R spells fun or play
We expected so much more from Bush
And I turn my head when I speak
'Cause I can't spell away this hurt
That's drippin' down my cheek.

Our N-O-M-I-N-E-E is a joke today
We wonder if R-O-E will be goin' away
I wanna back Bush and it will be pure H-E double L for me
Oh, I wish that we could stop this N-O-M-I-N-E-E.

Kenny Rogers Was Wrong

Every hand isn't a winner, no matter how well you play (or think you play) the game. The cards Mr. Bush has dealt himself (and it's important to keep reminding people that he is the dealer. The firestorm that has arisen is a result of his actions alone.) by nominating Harriet Miers are a loser, regardless of whether she is confirmed or not. Here's why:

1) Bush has driven a wedge into his own base of support. By failing to keep what we regarded as a promise (maybe he didn't) to appoint judges like Scalia and Thomas, he has turned his back on his most loyal and consistent backers, disappointing us at the single most crucial point of our support. He won't be running again, but hundreds of members of his party will run next year, and they're going to desperately need the help of the people Bush has just given the cold shoulder.

2) Bush has confirmed the principle of a "seat" on the court that must be reserved for a person of the requisite gender, race, marital status, height, dog ownership or whatever else gets thrown in the mix next. By originally nominating Roberts for O'Connor's seat, he did the right thing--but then reversed it at the first opportunity. This affirmative action appointment (and there really is no other word for it) will have consequences that linger far longer than Miers sits (if she does at all) on the court.

3) Bush has also further compounded the stealth nominee precedent. As Robert Bork (who knows a little about confirmations) noted, the nomination of Miers sends a powerful and negative message to every bright, driven, well-spoken young conservative in the legal profession--shut up now while you still have a chance to be appointed to something. This self-enforced vow of silence has profound long-term implications on the ability of conservatives to shape thought and dialogue on the legal issues of our day.

4) Bush has forever forfeited the high ground of qualification for appointment to the high court. Roberts was unquestionably outstanding, his credentials acknowledged by supporters and opponents alike. There is not a single person on the face of the earth who can say that about Harriet Miers--at least not with a straight face. Instead we get told she brings coffee and donuts to church, that she's a stickler for details (except for her personal bar membership dues of course), that she owns a gun, and that she was a trail-blazing woman. Nice, but so? There are millions who fit that description, and they shouldn't be on the court either.

5) Bush has blown an opportunity he may never get again. Maybe another member of the Court will retire (or be retired by God) but that is no certainty. Yet knowing this might be his last opportunity to shape the future of the Supreme Court and encourage it to return to the views he professes to hold, he nominated an unimpressive, unknown for the job. Might Harriet Miers turn out to be the second coming of Scalia or Thomas? Maybe, but why settle for guessing? I know, Dr. Bush the cardiologist "looked into her heart" and concluded she wouldn't change in twenty years. That's pretty thin gruel to ladle into the bowls of your hungry constituents.

So to finish with another line from Kenny Rogers, it's time for the President to "fold 'em" with Harriet Miers. Will that happen? Not a chance in the world. He's bound and determined that he is going to stay in, but he will lose the pot, even if he somehow manages to get his unqualified friend confirmed.

Water Seeks Its Own Level

The nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court is rapidly shaping up to be the worst of all worlds for President Bush, the Republican Party, the religious right, and conservatives. Having been told to "wait and see" ("trust me" not having gone over so well), we've done that--and the results aren't pretty. Miers' questionaire has rasied more questions than it answered.

How is it a possible for a woman supposedly known for her attentiveness to detail to give a commencement address at a major American university on a "date not available"? Has this woman ever heard of google? Are there no working phones in the White House that can call Texas and get a simple answer? How is it possible for a woman supposedly known for her attentiveness to detail to allow her bar license to lapse--not once, but twice, in two different jurisdictions?

I am astounded at the level of incompetence the supposedly accomplished woman demonstrated in what is arguably the most important document she has written in her life to this point--her answers to the Senate committee that will confirm her (or not). When you produce a document with numerous ommissions, errors of structure and fact, and frankly, little but platitudes when asked to state a philosophical structure, it does not speak well for your chances.

Is there no one at the White House who is paying attention to what is going on in the real world? Do they not notice (or care about) the effect this is having on the conservative movement and the Republican Party? President Bush is going to be in office for three more years. It seems logical to assume that he is going to want to accomplish a few things during that time...and it is inescapable that he is doing things that will make that more difficult if not impossible.



We are celebrating Rhonda's homecoming! The house feels better than it has in two months. If you've ever worked a puzzle only to find that one piece is missing, you know what we've been feeling like lately. It may still be a wonderful picture, but it's hard not to focus on what's incomplete. But at least for a few days, everything's back in place.

The fireplace is lit (even though the reality of Arizona also dictates that the fan is running to cool off the room!) and family room is filled with laughter, stories, and catching up on everything that didn't get into the emails and phone calls.

Everybody should have a day like this once in a while!


Who Would Jesus Hire?

While filling in for Hugh Hewitt this afternoon, Jed Babbin sparked a firestorm by bringing up the subject of illegal immigration. Caller after caller--conservative, Republican and Christian by their own statements--took Jed to task and said they had no alternative but to hire illegals for their small businesses. "We don't have a choice" ran the constant refrain.

Illegal immigration is a huge issue, both from the standpoint of our national security during the war on terror, and from the standpoint of the enormous financial and societal costs it entails. Yet one after another, people were lining up to defend illegal immigration--and more specifically hiring illegals--in the name of necessity.

Frankly, it's time to apply some "supply side economics" to the problem. If we cut off the supply of jobs, most of the immigration problems would take care of themselves. And while this is something the government could do a lot to fix, it is also a problem that people who describe themselves as "conservative, Republican and Christian" could work to fix as well. Yes, it would require considerable financial sacrifice. Yes, it might mean they would have to change their business model and practices. But isn't living the Christian life supposed to require sacrifice? "Take up your cross" and all that?

Would Jesus hire an illegal immigrant to save a few bucks? I submit that the One who paid taxes even when He didn't owe them to ensure He maintained His testimony would not.

Seeing Only What We Want To See or, Whistling Past the Graveyard

On Monday, Hugh Hewitt posted this exercise in wish fulfillment: The debate is fierce at every level of the conservative movement and the GOP. But it ialso (sic) being won by the anti-anti-Miers people.

Of course that was prior to her, um (to be charitable) less than impressive performance on the Hill yesterday. Captain Ed lays it out in a brutal post entitled Miers 2.0: Same Bugs, Less Features. Even when the White House arranges promotional events, it still cannot get a clear message that goes beyond those qualifications. Conservatives will continue to wonder what makes her better qualified as an originalist, or even a demonstrable conservative, than many others with either judicial or philosophical public works of conservatism, many of whom are at least equally adept attorneys -- and all of whom could probably have handled interviews better than Miers did yesterday, with a sympathetic Senator.

Anyone who thinks the pro-Miers faction is winning this debate is simply not dealing with reality. After more than two weeks, the White House still has not come up with a single shred of supportable evidence that Harriet Miers is the person the President should have picked to be on the Supreme Court. As Peggy Noonan said the other day, if they had an argument for her, they would have made it by now. (And for the record "Shut up" is not an argument.) Some conservatives think (and say loudly) that we should push for her confirmation to keep the Democrats from winning. Frankly, I think this is a battle the President deserves to and should lose.

Kill the Fatted Lasagna

Tomorrow is the day! Rhonda is coming home for the weekend for the first time since leaving for college. It's been about two months since we left her at school, so we're pretty excited about this trip. My dad said that it had been a long time since he was in college, but they didn't get a fall break. We didn't either. But I'm sure glad she does.

So in honor of the returning prodigal daughter, we're killing the fatted lasagna (by request--dorm food is one thing that apparently hasn't changed since I was in college!) and making ready for a celebration.


Heads I Win; Tails You Lose

The hypocrisy of the Democrats and their opposition to the war in Iraq was on full display this past Sunday. Check out this exchange from Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: But if the constitution goes down, psychologically, isn't that a setback?
SEN. LEVIN: It is a setback, but the constitution, if it's adopted, is also a setback.

What a wonderful position for the Democrats to be in. If they constitution passes, they declare it a setback. If it fails, they declare it a setback. In short, nothing that Bush does and nothing that happens on the ground in Iraq will ever be acknowledged as a success by Levin and his ilk. They are so committed to to their worldview that they will never admit anything has gone right. This fact has profound implications for the future of public policy debates among our leaderes. There is no way to take a political party seriously when it refuses to deal with the facts and simply declares failure regardless of reality.

Too Bad He Didn't Try This In 1969

From the Washington Post: HYANNIS, Mass. -- U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy attempted to rescue six men who had become trapped by high tide on a jetty off Hyannisport on Sunday.
The Massachusetts Democrat eventually left the rescue to Hyannis firefighters, The Cape Cod Times reported Monday.

Posted without further comment, except to note that Ted Kennedy's car killed more people than Three Mile Island.


Hillary in 08?

It's hard to believe that Hillary Clinton is considered in most quarters to be the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2008. Yes, she has outstanding name recognition. Yes, she has access to a powerful fund-raising apparatus. Yes, she will have the benefit of running in the primaries as a "moderate" compared to Kerry and Feingold and (maybe) Dean. But seriously, can the Democratic Party--the party of John Kennedy and Harry Truman and Scoop Jackson and Sam Nunn--really have fallen this far?

After all, this is the woman who said on Sixty Minutes that she wasn't "some kind of Tammy Wynette standing by my man"--when of course she did exactly that. First she covered for Bill's indiscretions from his days as governor to help him get elected. Then she covered for his White House folly with talk of the "vast right wing conspiracy." I know honesty isn't the top value for most people when it comes to selecting our leaders, but even by the elastic standards of the political world, she is a remarkably dishonest person.

The cattle futures trades, the White House travel office, the Rose Law firm billing records, the health care task force--this is not a woman who tells the truth, either regarding her husband or herself. The impact of the Swift Boat Vets on John Kerry dramatically demonstrated that the mainstream media has lost their ability to protect their chosen figures from facts...and if the Democrats are thinking at all, they're going to realize at some point that she is not a viable candidate, at least for the general election. There are enough skeletons in her closet (sharing space with the hidden files) to bring out one a week for an entire election cycle. It's going to be awfully hard for her to stay on message in the face of that.

Of course from a Republican standpoint, having her run might not be such a bad thing. She might be the one person capable of reuniting the party that President Bush has divided. Certainly the prospect of her (and Bill) back in the White House would serve as a powerful incentive to rally round the flag of whoever her opponent might be.

A Game We Would Have Lost Last Year

Today Alabama did something they have never done before in Mike Shula's three years as head coach--they won a game when they played poorly. In a classic sandwich game, on the road against a lightly regarded opponent, and in between two huge games, they still managed to pull out a 13-10 victory. It was ugly. But, as they say in baseball, all hits look like line drives in the box score.

I'm hoping that, just as an unimpressive win over Arkansas was followed by an outstanding performance against Florida, that next week when the orange-jumpsuited convicts come to town that we'll be ready.

Roll Tide.


The Sins of the Father

To understand the conservative antipathy toward George Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, you must first understand our history with his father. We've been let down--badly--by a President Bush before. Many of us were not completely sold on the man who once called Reagan's plan for cutting taxes "voodoo economics." So after eight years of service, he still needed to make a case for himself to the base of the party. In his acceptance speech (written ironically by Peggy Noonan) in New Orleans in 1988, he made that case. And we believed him...and voted for him--hoping that he would give us four more years of Reagan's policies even if he couldn't duplicate the personality.

I think every politically involved person remembers "Read my lips"...and that Bush broke that promise. But now nearly twenty years later, most people have forgotten the context of that pledge. It was not a thrown-away line--it was the centerpiece of a campaign to convince conservatives that he would follow in Reagan's footsteps--that he was, or at least would govern as, one of us. Bush 41 said:

And I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent, my opponent now says, my opponent now says, he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I'll say no, and they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say, to them, "Read my lips: no new taxes."

Except of course Bush 41 did nothing of the sort. Instead he caved on the essential promise of his campaign. Congress pushed and he said, "Sure...let's get more money in here that we can spend." And on that day, he lost any chance of winning a second term. For he had been elected to continue the Reagan Revolution, and had instead joined the other team.

The comparable pledge of Bush 43 was to appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. This commitment was central to cementing his position as different from his that of his father--the concept that he would govern more as Reagan's heir than as his dad's. And it was in hopes of achieving the transformation of the court that many of us swallowed hard and put up with his decidedly unconservative ways. From the Ted Kennedy-written education bill to the profligate spending; from the complete lack of seriousness about border control and immigration to the broad expansion of government powers, he has been anything but conservative. Yet we have not rebelled against him. Instead we waited for the one promise that mattered most to be fulfilled. (The fact that in the face of all this evidence we still expected the conservative judges promise to come to pass is testament to our faith--and perhaps our naivete.)

When Bush 41 broke his promise of no new taxes, he broke the faith of his conservative base. Now that Bush 43 has broken his promise of Scalia and Thomas, he has done the same. So for all those who wonder why the base--and to repeat a point I've been making for two weeks, it is the base, not just the "elites"--has reacted with such vehemence, I submit that it is because the sins of the father have been repeated in the life of the son. Just as his father did, Bush 43 has broken the central core of trust with his supporters by violating his most important pledge to us. Once that is done, it can never be restored.

Really Good News from Iraq

The security plan designed and executed by US and Iraqi forces has apparently dramatically succeeded. As best I can tell from the news reports, there were three (Update--the total now has reached 13, but that still compares to almost 350 during the January elections) terrorist attacks in the entire country! No one was killed, and only three people were wounded. This has to be considered rather remarkable given the stakes. Now four elections in a row (2 in Afghanistan and 2 in Iraq) have been carried out without any serious disruptions.

Reports also say that voting was heavy in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south. Apparently the Sunnis are still living in denial, and somehow thinking that they can just keep sitting out the process and yet still have a voice. It would be like Rhode Island (the last of the 13 colonies to approve the Constitution) having never voted to accept it, yet still expecting to influence the course of the US government--and pouting when their concerns weren't heeded. Somebody needs to sit these guys down and do some splainin!

The Iraqi Constitution isn't perfect...but it does provide a framework and an opportunity for further progress. All together, this has been a really good day.


Voting in Iraq

In just a few hours, Iraqis (lots of them if the polling data from there is to be believed) will vote on their proposed constitution. After months of haggling, eleventh, twelfth, and even thirteenth hour changes, the document that would govern the permanent (well at least until amended) political structure of the country is being put to the people. The Shite majority backed away from their attempt to rig the outcome by changing the definition of 2/3 majority approval, and the latest revision prodded at least a few Sunni leaders to stick their necks out (literally) in support of the constitution.

Bill Roggio at the Fourth Rail has a typically thorough evaluation of the security situation and the groundwork that's been laid over the past few weeks to try to limit the election-related violence. One of the real encouraging things to me is that so far, through two elections in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, the terrorists (could we please, please, please stop calling them insurgents?) have been very limited in their ability to disrupt things. By tomorrow's evening news, I hoping to see a lot of purple fingers again (and by the way Wisconsin, that would work to cut down voter fraud for you too!).


Bush Does What the Media Won't

This morning Fox News carried a live satellite feed interview conducted by President Bush with several American (and one Iraqi) soldiers working in Tikrit to ensure that Saturday's elections are protected as much as possible. One thing that has been largely missing from the mainstream media reports from Iraq has been the view of the military personnel on the ground. Of course given what happened to Matt Lauer the last time he was there, it's no wonder--the soldiers simply don't follow the script the media wants to play.

But for the President to have to do their job for them is a pretty startling revelation. To a man (and woman) they were upbeat, energized, and optimistic about the future of Iraq. Saturday's vote, which I expect will approve the Constitution will be yet another step toward true and lasting freedom in that pivotal country--and another nail in the coffin of the autocratic and despotic regimes in the region. The President will likely never receive the credit for risking his political career to do what he felt had to be done to protect the country. And he certainly will never get credit for trying to drag the media into reporting the truth. But he deserves both.

Is Fineman Really Wrong?

While the reflexive answer to any question beginning with those words is probably yes, I think this one deserves a closer look. Fineman's latest piece up on MSNBC has been getting a lot of attention in the center-right blogosphere. Among his points:

And what really frosts the religious types is that Bush evidently feels that he can only satisfy them by stealth — by nominating someone with absolutely no paper trail. It’s an affront. And even though Dr. Dobson is on board — having been cajoled aboard by Rove — I don’t sense that there is much enthusiasm for the enterprise out in Colorado Springs.

John Hinderaker at Powerline tried to rebut Fineman's argument:

I am not aware of a single religious leader who has in any way objected to the Miers nomination or called it an "affront" to religious people. The idea that "religious types"--do you get the feeling that Fineman is writing about a group with whom he has little personal experience?--are "frosted" because Miers is a "stealth" candidate with "absolutely no paper trail" is mystifying. So Fineman's analysis makes no sense, and is supported by no data or even anecdotal observation.

I shudder to disagree with the guys at Powerline, given the fate of Dan Rather! But this is just dead wrong. I also don't buy into all of Fineman's points, but he is right and John is wrong about religious conservatives and their reaction. I get the feeling that in this case it is John rather than Howard who is writing about a group with whom he has little personal contact. Many of us "religious types," several of whom I've linked to repeatedly here, are indeed "frosted" by the Miers nomination. Yes, some movement leaders (Dobson, Warren, Colson) have risen to her defense--although that is based, not on belief in her but rather on belief in whoever gave them the secret handshake and wink about her. But among the rank and file, there is a great sense of discontent and betrayal. I don't have any data to support Fineman, but I've got tons of anecdotal observation.

Miers Don't Impress Me Much (with apologies to Shania Twain)

We've got a lot of judges who are pretty smart
But Miers raised saying nothing up to an art
Bush says she's an originalist, it drives me up the wall
When her record shows us nothing of the sort at all

Oh-oo-oh Bush thinks she's special
Oh-oo-oh he says she's something else

Okay, so she's the first woman bar president
Miers don't impress me much
Yeah she's got one friend but her views and such!
Now don't get me wrong, she may even be bright
But that won't move the Court any further to the right
Miers don't impress me much

I never knew true rightist against the Federalist Society
And for the ABA in its place
She pushed affirmative action when she could have opposed it
For heaven forbid we should not consider race

Oh-oo-oh Bush thinks she's special
Oh-oo-oh he says she's something else

Okay, so she ran the Texas Lottery Commission!
Miers don't impress me much
Yeah she's got one friend but her views and such!
Now don't get me wrong, she may even be bright
But that won't move the Court any further to the right
Miers don't impress me much

She's one of those stealth types without a paper trail
It's a guarantee to make conservatives wail
I can't believe Bush kissed his base good-night
Come on tell me Mr. President, you must be joking right?

Oh-oo-oh Bush thinks she's special
Oh-oo-oh he says she's something else

Okay, so she's got a gun!
Miers don't impress me much
Yeah she's got one friend but her views and such!
Now don't get me wrong, she may even be bright
But that won't move the Court any further to the right
Miers don't impress me much

So based on what we know, she's O'Conner or something?
Miers don't impress me much.

UPDATE: Welcome those arriving here from Bench Memos at NRO. Please feel free to look around and come back anytime.

UPDATE II: Welcome also to those arriving here from Polipundit. I understand that Lorie doesn't much care for my parody--strike that--I misunderstood. Via email, Lorie explained that she thought it was funny, although if you're supporting Miers, you probably won't care for it. Still, you're welcome to take a look around.

Is Anyone Still Listening?

The last 10 days have been marked mostly by people who should be allies talking past each other. If anyone at the White House has ever listened to their friends--and we are their friends, not Harry Reid or Credit Check Chuck (no matter how many nice things they say about Miers)--now is the time.

Peggy Noonan has it nailed: If the administration had a compelling rationale for Harriet Miers's nomination, they would have made it. Simply going at their critics was not only destructive, it signaled an emptiness in their arsenal. If they had a case they'd have made it. "You're a sexist snob" isn't a case; it's an insult, one that manages in this case to be both startling and boring.

One of President Bush's great strengths is his willingness to stay the course, even in the face of intense opposition. That speaks to great strength of character. But on those occasions when he is mistaken, it is a painfully self-destructive trait. His performance today, citing Miers' religious faith was embarrassing. It invalidates the criticism conservatives have rightly made of Democrats for opposing judicial nominees because of the their faith. If it is right to vote for someone because of faith, it is just as valid to oppose them for it.

This whole problem has been caused by the President's attempt to have it both ways. Rather than send up a proven commodity like Edith Jones or Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, and have the fight with the Democrats, he tried to put in a stealth candidate instead. I do believe he wants a pro-life, conservative judge. But he wasn't willing to pay the price to get one. Mindful of his father's great failure with Souter, he attempted to co-opt the religious right with the secret handshake and wink strategy. But when Dobson went out to lead the charge he made the mistake of saying he knew "things I probably shouldn't know." That left the President the worst of both worlds. He did not have a proven nominee around whom the base would rally, and yet her stealth cover with the Democrats had been largely blown by Dobson's remark.

None of Miers' most ardent defenders has made a compelling case for her. When asking about her judicial philosophy, we hear about her character and trail-blazing accomplishments. When asking about her conservative credentials, we hear about her character and trail-blazing accomplishments. When asking about her view of the Constitution, we hear about her character and trail-blazing accomplishments. Noonan is right--if there were a legitimate case for her, it would have been made by now.

If the White House doesn't start listening to their friends, and soon, the Republican party is going to suffer potentially catastrophic consequences. Rather than trashing us, how about listening for a change? You may not like the fact that we haven't saluted and fallen in line, but we have something to say that you need to hear.

A Divide That's Hard to Fathom--or Heal

Today a very thoughtful and well-spoken woman named Trudy called the Rush Limbaugh show. A self-identified religious conservative, she expressed her disappointment and disapproval of Bill Kristol, National Review, Rush, and others who have spoken out against Harriet Miers. She said that she felt it showed a contempt for the religious conservatives by the "conservative leadership" and that they were using her efforts and time and then casting her aside.

The interesting thing to me is that's exactly the way I and many, many others (Burrell, Kouba, Bainbridge, and Wayne respectively) feel about what Bush did in nominating Miers. I feel that he--not those who oppose his inexplicable choice for the court--is the one who has betrayed the trust of all conservatives, (not just religious ones.) This divide within the party is not going to be healed quickly or easily. I repeat my earlier prediction that the 2006 elections are going to be shaped by these events. It is entirely possible that the beginning of the end of Republican control of the House and Senate was a week ago Monday when the President announced his decision to put his personal lawyer on the Supreme Court. And frankly, while I don't hope that happens, if it does, Bush will deserve it. He brought this to pass.


What Now?

I think the ground on both sides of the Harriet Miers debate has been thoroughly gone over. If her supporters had anything to back up the President's claim that she would be a constitutional conservative, it would have come up by now. That clearly isn't going to happen. Her ex-boyfriend Judge Nathan Hecht was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt today (transcript here), and just like everyone else who has risen to her defense, could offer only a list of her accomplishments and a testament to her personal character in answer to the question for proof. There isn't any, and there isn't going to be. RNC Chairman Ken Melman tried to quell the tide today in a conference call with conservative bloggers, and they came out still unconvinced. Professor Bainbridge has the report and the typical reaction.

So what do we do now?

The nomination clearly isn't going to be withdrawn. Bush is not one to give in to his critics, regardless of the merits of their arguments. It is unlikely that the hearings will provide any more clarity than we already have, given the near-certainty that she will refuse to answer any questions that would give a glimpse into her philosophy (still assuming that one exists!).

There seems to me to be little chance that, despite the obvious shortcomings of this nomination, that any significant number of Republican Senators will challenge her confirmation. While there is quite a bit of grumbling, enough to have leaked out to the media, it's hard to believe that push will come to shove.

That leaves the question of the Democrat's response. Will they buy the argument (advanced by Reid and Schumer) that this is the best they're going to get from Bush and let her go through after making enough noise to try to satisfy their base? Or will they do what Bush would not and go to war over a lifetime seat to the Supreme Court? If they do go to war, what should those of us who are true conservatives do? Should we support an unsatisfactory nominee, or should we just sit back and let the President suffer the consequences of his spinelessness?

I don't know where I come down yet, but I'd love to hear what you think.


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.

A Truly Elite Critique of Miers

The (false) charge of elitism regarding the opponents of Harriet Miers has been refuted several times on this blog. Now at last comes a truly elite critique. Including this (hat tip The Corner):

She was an unknown, undistinguished and of no importance to me:
But Bush says she is conservative;
And Bush is an honorable man.
She hath brought unqualified minorities home to our universities,
Whose enrollments did diversity expand:
Did this in Miers seem conservative?
When that the gay lobby has whined, Miers hath responded;
Conservatism should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Bush says she is a conservative;
And Bush is an honorable man.

OUCH. Who knew Shakespeare opposed her too? Oh and don't miss "I am no orator, as Bush is"!!!!


The Non-Elite "Elites"

One of the most amazing and mystifying arguments brought to bear on those of us who oppose the nomination of Harriet Miers is that we're guilty of "elitism." Her opponents have been characterized as the "Beltway elites," the "intellectual priesthood" and the "conservative intellectual chorus."

The thing that's so amazing about this point is that, while I certainly hope to be intelligent, I'm a long way being part of the priesthood! And that's true of so many other opponents as well. We're a long way from Washington, and we're not "pouting," "hyperventilating," "losing our minds," throwing a "hissy fit," having a "knee-jerk reaction," nor are we by any stretch of the imagination leaders of the movement.

Dan Burrell is a pastor from North Carolina
Jeff Kouba is a telecom genius from Minnesota
R G Combs is a libertarian from California
Steven Bainbridge is a law professor at UCLA

I could go on all day...the opposition to Harriet Miers is wide and varied and deep. It's not all Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingrahm and the National Review and Captain Ed Morrisey and Polipundit and David Frum and John Fund and...wait a minute. Do you start to see a pattern here?

I know we're stuck with it now. Bush can't very well withdraw the nomination. (Remember Muskie being behind Eagleton 1000%?) I'm left to hope and wish and pray that Harriet Miers isn't the second coming of a cross between David Souter and Sandra Day O'Connor. And no one has a single shread of proof past "trust me" that she isn't!

Concluding the Miers Debate

John from Blogotional has now posted his final response in what has been a friendly, and hopefully enlightening, debate over the nomination of Harriet Miers. It will probably not come as a great shock to our readers to realize that neither of us has changed the mind of the other!

John closes with this football analogy:

It's 3rd and 2 and you are the fullback (I know, nobody runs formations with fullbacks anymore, but go with me on this) you come to the huddle just knowing your number is going to be called. This is important. You're ahead by a touchdown in the third quarter, this first down will put you in scoring position, giving you the opportunity to take a much more insurmountable lead. You arrive in the huddle and the QB calls a short pass to the tight end in the flat -- your job, block for the QB. What do you do, walk off the field in disgust, leaving the QB open so he gets sacked? No, you do your job and know your number will get called with Offense Coordinator thinks its time.

There are two problems with this that I see. 1) The quarterback has a called a play that is designed to pass the ball, not to the tight end instead of the fullback, but to the middle linebacker on the other team. Any fullback who keeps his mouth shut about that ought to be fired for letting the team down rather than rewarded for his "loyalty." He should call timeout immediately and go tell the coach the quarterback is helping the other side. This is not a question of pouting or hurt feelings because somebody's number didn't get called; this is a question of watching our side hand the other side the ball, and the game. 2) Sorry, but if George W Bush isn't going to call a conservative's number ("when the Offense Coordinator thinks its time") for the Supreme Court, exactly what is waiting going to get us? B. ush mega-defender Hugh Hewitt himself described John Roberts as a "moderate conservative", and not even he (or John or anyone else) can offer a shred of evidence that Miers is indeed a true conservative "in the mold of Scalia and Thomas." In fact, all of the available evidence of her opinions seems to point the other way. But that's where we'll have to leave it for now.

Thanks again to John for taking part in this discussion. I appreciate his candor, and in my heart of hearts, wish that he is right about Miers and that I am wrong. For it seems almost certain that she will be confirmed to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court...and I fervently hope her history to this point is not a guide to her voting there. We shall see.


Rumblings for 2006

My good friend Dan Burrell is the epitome of the intelligent branch of the religious right. I've known Dan for nearly 25 years. He pastors a very large Baptist church in the South. He is the first person I ever heard say, "I'm so conservative, I only eat the right wings on the chickens at KFC!"

He is fed up with the Republican Party. His "Read My Lips" post is an absolute must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the conservative union with the Republican Party. Just to whet your appetite:

In my opinion, this nomination is the equivalent of Bush the Elder’s breaking of his “read my lips, no new taxes” fiasco. It has destroyed the credibility, the support and the enthusiasm for the administration of George W. Bush. As for today's Republican leadership, maybe it's time for them to hear us as in "Read my lips" and for the record, we mean what we say and we say what we believe.Why should we continue to pour our energy, our finances, our organizational network and any other resources into a party which can’t be trusted any longer than it takes for them to get into office?

Also be sure not to miss what happened when an RNC fundraiser called his house this week!

Debunking the Dobson Defense

In a long post today, Hugh Hewitt continued his defense of the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. I was especially struck by one of his arguments:

But I want to note one troubling aspect of the intra-conservative debate this past week. Among Miers' defenders are James Dobson, Chuck Colosn, and Rick Warren. Almost no credit or respect is given the judgment of these men by the conservative elites hammering away at Miers.

I'm conservative, (although by no means part of the elite) and more specifically a right-wing religious kind of conservative. I have immense respect for Dobson, Colson and Warren as men and leaders. But their support of Harriet Miers is unconvincing because of one simple reason--it is based on trust rather than knowledge. These are not men who know Harriet Miers; these are men who have been told that she is worthy of their support. On Brit Hume's show the day of the nomination, Dr. Dobson said he was "way out on a limb" in supporting Miers. He is trusting what he has been told.

I trust him, but I don't trust those who are pushing Miers to him, for the same reason that I don't trust Bush's nomination of Miers. In reality, Dobson and the others are just expressing confidence in someone other than Miers when they "defend her." That's why "the judgment of these men" is not a convincing argument to make me reconsider my opposition to what remains in my view a horrible missed opportunity.


Is This What We Worked So Hard To Get?

I'm speechless (a rare condition for me):

This Knight Ridder story is certainly revealing:

In what appear to be some of her only public statements about a constitutional issue, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers testified in a 1990 voting rights lawsuit that the Dallas City Council had too few black and Hispanic members, and that increasing minority representation should be a goal of any change in the city's political structure.

In the same testimony, Miers, then a member of the council, said she believed that the city should divest its South African financial holdings and work to boost economic development in poor and minority areas. She also said she "wouldn't belong to the Federalist Society" or other "politically charged" groups because they "seem to color your view one way or another."

"There's an acknowledgement in her comments that race matters and is relevant, and from a fairness standpoint, we should acknowledge the impact of a particular political structure on voters of color," said George Washington University law professor Spencer Overton, a voting rights expert. "It's not unlike something you could see Justice Sandra Day O'Connor saying. A rigid quota system may be bad, but diversity is a compelling interest, and we want institutions to reflect society as a whole."

Thank you Mr. Bush. You have given us another outstanding conservative for the Supreme Court. NOT.

Bush's Self-Inflicted Wound

The defenders of the Bush pick of Harriet Miers use as one of their main talking points the nature of the Republican majority in the Senate. They argue that since the Senators aren't conservative enough, Bush couldn't count on them in a showdown, and therefore was justified in nominating another stealth candidate to the bench.

NONSENSE AND HOGWASH. If the Republican Senators aren't conservative enough, the fault lies at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. When George Bush made the decision to get actively involved in the Republican primary opposing the principled conservative Pat Toomey in favor of the loathsome liberal Arlen Specter, he sealed his fate. (He probably also lost Pennsylvania for himself, but that's a story for another day.) By supporting a liberal over a conservative, he sent a message to Snowe and Collins and Chafee and the rest that, no matter how much they buck him, he will still back them. No wonder they feel no compunction at defying the White House. So quit telling me that Bush's excuse is that he can't count on the Senators---it's his own fault! He had the opportunity to make the Senate more conservative, and instead worked hard on purpose to accomplish exactly the opposite.

D-Day 11/30/05

President Bush is pushing Congress to confirm Harriest Miers by Thanksgiving. (I'm going to refrain from making any turkey jokes here...at least I'm going to try!) Why is that date for her confirmation significant? Because on November 30th, the Court will hear Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, the abortion notification case from New Hampshire.

Assuming that Bush is right about Miers (which is a huge assumption based on the facts in evidence), being confirmed by Thanksgiving would give her the opportunity to vote on that case rather than having O'Connor hear it. If that indeed comes to pass, there will be an indication by next spring as to Miers' view on at least one critical issue. Opposition from conservatives to her nomination has been swift and strong. I would love to know whether that took Bush by surprise, or whether he knew it was coming and just didn't care. Some people have suggested that this pick was motivated by his anger at conservative opposition to his buddy Alberto Gonzales. (And if you think the opposition to Miers has been strong....) If the inside story comes out one of these days, I'd be at the head of the line to read it.

Anyhow, the outcome of the 2006 elections may well rest on that one vote by Harriet Miers. If she is confirmed and does not cast a pro-life vote in that case, I predict that the Democrats will regain control of at least the House, and perhaps the Senate as well. I hope the President knows what he is doing, and how much he is risking on a woman because he's "looked into her heart."

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.


The Miers Conversation Continues

In a long and thoughtful post, John from Blogotional has responded to what I wrote yesterday. (I've added him to my blogroll, and highly recommend you include him in your daily reading.) I want to say at the outset how much I appreciate his careful approach, kind tone, and the considerable time he is investing in this conversation.

Let me address first a couple of things we agree on. John wrote:

But what is the goal here? The goal is to get a court that is strictly interpretive, not evolutionary.

...we are in a better position now than we were when Clinton was in office.

I'm 100% with him on those. Now on to the disagreements.

I know it's heresy to disagree with Sun Tzu (who John cites), but I don't think his maxim about winning while avoiding battle is true--either politically or militarily. Can anyone seriously doubt that our situation in Iraq would be better had the Iraqi Army stood and fought and been defeated (and their numbers permanently reduced)? We won quickly by avoiding battles, but that set the stage for the protracted struggles of the last two years. I think the same thing is true in politics. I'm not sure it's possible to truly win anything of lasting significance without a real struggle. In her Opinion Journal column today, Peggy Noonan said:

The president would have been politically better served by what Pat Buchanan called a bench-clearing brawl. A fractious and sparring base would have come together arm in arm to fight for something all believe in: the beginning of the end of command-and-control liberalism on the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Democrats, forced to confront a serious and principled conservative of known stature, would have damaged themselves in the fight. If in the end President Bush lost, he'd lose while advancing a cause that is right and doing serious damage to the other side. Then he could come back to win with the next nominee. And if he won he'd have won, rousing his base and reminding them why they're Republicans.

John also said that the Democrats have no place to attack Miers except for her faith. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. John Roberts demonstrated outstanding and unchallenged credentials. Miers' resume is nothing of the sort. She has never done anything to demostrate outstanding intellectual achievement. Six months as White House Counsel? The Texas Lottery Commission? Please. There is plenty for the opposition to fix on...including the charge of Bush appointing unqualified cronies. I'd like to defend him, but Michael Brown, Julie Myers and now this don't exactly give me much to work with. This is a charge that can (and I expect) will find a good deal of traction.

Then John wrote this: "Now, we have yet to establish that this woman is a compromise on the essential issue -- which is getting a court that rules as we would like it."

It may not be established, but there are numerous disturbing signs that she is exactly that. From The Corner's Stanly Kurtz: "I note a worrisome report in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education. It seems that Miers was a key figure behind the establishment of a lecture series in women’s studies at SMU." From John Yoo: "She did not win a reputation as a forceful conservative on issues such as the administration's position on stem cell research or affirmative action." More Yoo: "She also apparently urged that the White House preserve the ABA's privileged role in reviewing the qualifications of judicial nominees."

Miers may be pro-life (but then so is Harry Reid, and I wouldn't want him on the court!), although I don't think we even know that for sure, but I have yet to see a single shred of evidence that she is a constitutional conservative in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.

In closing for this round, let's talk for a second about the role of conservatives in the Republican party--specifically religious conservatives. I argued here that we have been used and abandoned over and over again, and that will not change until we stop saying, "Please sir may I have another." If we do not stand up and make sure we are heard, we'll continue to be taken for granted and have nothing to show for our blind loyalty.

Oh, one more thing. John cited Reagan's spending as proof Bush isn't so bad---but Reagan never had control of both houses of Congress either!

Jay Leno Says It All

Noted legal scholar Jay Leno of the Tonight Show perfectly summed up my frustrations and fears regarding the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court:

Bush said he looked into her heart and knows she won't change in the next twenty years. But twenty years ago, she was a Democrat!

UPDATE: Welcome to those who came from Galley Slaves. Take a look around and come back anytime.

Religious Conservatives and the Republican Ghetto

Ever since the Moral Majority helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, the religious conservatives have heard the same lines over and over again. "Be patient and wait your turn." "Change takes time." And my personal favorite, "Trust us." But the attitude of the party leaders has mostly been, "Please come and vote for us, and then shut the @#$* up." Of course they never say that last part, because after all, they're talking to religious conservatives--a group of people whose values they often do not understand or share, but whose votes they crave. Yet that unspoken attitude exists.

I remember 1988 when I was working as the Treasurer of the Republican Party for my home county. When the Pat Robertson people wanted to buy tickets for the fundraiser, the leadership was thrilled. When they wanted a voice in the party operation, the leadership was aghast. I'm no Pat Robertson fan--wasn't then, and the passage of time has only confirmed my opinion. But the way his supporters were treated was pathetic.

Still, like faithful sheep, the religious conservatives have marched to the polls and dutifully cast their votes in hopes that sometime in the sweet by and by, they would reap their promised reward. Folks, it's time to admit this just ain't working.

It may still work for the Republican Party on election day, but what has it done for the religious conservatives? Look at the current makeup of the Supreme Court. Leaving out the retiring O'Connor, four members--Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas were appointed by Reagan and Bush 41. Two conservatives, one near liberal and one complete liberal. Has anything changed regarding Roe v. Wade? Yes, it has become more settled. Has anything changed regarding religion in public life? No, it still depends on the direction of the wind on voting day whether the Ten Commandments are legal or not. Has anything changed regarding public morality? Yes, now there's a constitutional right to sodomy as well as privacy. I could go on and on.

The bottom line is that religious conservatives have allowed themselves to be consigned to the Republican ghetto through 25 years of empty promises. But we thought Bush was different. We thought that he was the real deal. We worked, prayed (and believed that mattered), gave, registered, and voted for him in record numbers. He was going to be the one who finally made a real difference.

And finally, in the fifth year of his presidency, the long-awaited Supreme Court vacancies came to pass. Did we get the proven conservatives in the "mold of Scalia and Thomas" that Bush promised? No we did not. We got the brilliant but unproven John Roberts and were told "trust me." Then we got the way less brilliant but equally unproven Harriet Miers and were told "trust me." (After all, she takes donuts and coffee to her church. What else do you need to know?)

The reality is that Bush 43 is no different in practice than Reagan or Bush 41. They talk the talk. They go to church (well not so much Reagan, but you get my point). They pray out loud. But they don't take the concrete actions that would change the things that matter most to people of faith. They do not care about moral values nearly as much as they care about motivating voters. So they say what we want to hear and count on us to keep living in blissful ignorance of the fact that nothing ever happens. It's time for that to change.

It's time to send a message loud and clear to the White House and the Republican leadership. "The elections of 2006 are coming. You're going to be counting on us. That shows real faith on your part--but a faith that this time may be misplaced. It's time to stop taking us for granted. It's time for you to deliver on 25 years of promises." If they do not respond, we must leave the ghetto--even if it means that "our" party loses seats or even control of the Senate and/or the House. That result would be preferable to another 25 years of being lied to and taken for granted. But the attitude of the Republican leadership will never change until this reality is brought home to them.

For what shall it profit a man if he gain temporal political power and lose his own soul?



The Braves played exactly as I've come to expect today. No surprises. Wait till next regular season.

The Most Ridiculous Pro-Miers Argument Yet

Yes, my unbelieving readers, this argument in support of Harriet Miers is even more ridiculous than Marvin Olasky's coffee and donuts defense! Here comes Carol Liebau wading into the fray in a post rather ironically titled "A Misguided Argument":

"Given that Ms. Miers came through that firm in pre-sexual harassment, pre-flex and pre-mommy track time, the fact that she rose from being the firm's first female hire to its president tells me that her performance had to be at least as good as that of a regular partner in a firm."

Oh give me a break. She wasn't a mommy! She never got married. She never had kids. Not having had the unneeded advantage of a mommy track to aid her rise hardly impresses as a sign of her abilities. People can debate the value of running a law firm as a credential for the Supreme Court (color me unconvinced) but to argue that overcoming obstacles she didn't face to get there is somehow a recommendation for her is just silly.

I've Got Some Good News

No, I didn't just save a bunch of money on my car insurance....the wandering wayward child is coming home! Two weeks from today, she gets on an airplane and heads in the right direction. We're really excited about the break she gets, and getting to see her. I can't wait!

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.