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“A Lean and Hungry Look…”

Wednesday, October 12, 2005  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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From this morning’s New York Times:

All the Republican staff members insisted on anonymity for fear of retaliation from their supervisors and from the Senate leaders.

Very nice. Committee staffers are often very bright, and superb politicos, unless they are simply the grandchildren of rich donors. There are brilliant staffers, and there are copy machine staffers. Some went to law school and excelled there, some have clerked on high or even the highest courts. Others have never worked a day in the private sector on behalf of a client. The incredible disloyalty they are showing in this instance to their bosses, the Committee, the nominee and, yes, the president, is not surprising, but disheartening. In fact, if they acted without the authorization of their Member, they will have violated the Canons of Ethics of the Bar. A small matter for some, no doubt, but call me old school.

Here’s the funny guy in the Washington Times who may never have written a brief in his life:

Staffers also said many of them chuckled over a biographical “pocket card” of talking points about Miss Miers that the White House distributed for use by any senator wishing to praise the nominee. “They had to double-space it,” said one aide, laughing.

“White House Counsel,” “Assistant to the President,” “Managing Partner,” and “President, Texas ABA” don’t take up much space. I can say with complete certainty that there isn’t one staffer –not one– on the Judiciary Committee with a resume as accomplished as that. I can also say with certainty that if a month ago, Harriet Miers had offered any lawyer on the Committee’s staff the position of Associate Counsel to the President –the most prestigious law practice in the world, the Washington Post once called it– nine out of ten would have accepted. Note to the file: Many of the GOP staffers of the Judicary Committee cannot be trusted.

Those who have been arguing that there is no “elitism” in the opposition to Miers have a new story to refute. The conservative opposition to Miers is rooted in the conceit among some Beltway operators –echoed by some conservative pundits– that some conservatives know how to discern a nominee’s philosophy and future trajectory, and are better positioned than the president, the vice president, senior aides, former White House Counsel lawyers, law professors Gralia and Starr, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, James Dobson, Jay Sekulow, Chuck Colson etc.

If these tactics were used by the left against a nominee beloved by the D.C. druids, there would be screams of outrage from within the druids. Now that they are employed by the right against a nominee of the president’s, how effective will the complaints be when the long knives of the left come out for future nominees?

There is zero honor and very little utility in these tactics.

A conservative lobbyist for Republican judicial nominees said that fighting for the Miers nomination has been “utterly joyless.”
“I don’t even want to be in politics anymore,” said the lobbyist. “Why don’t I just give up and move to suburban Maryland and work in communications for some big corporation?”

Perhaps because that would require the ability to accomplish difficult things.

Mark Levin and I had a fun time going back and forth last night on this nomination, and Mark’s rhetorical hole card is to ask for proof of Miers judicial philosophy. Mark shares my disdain for anonymous sources, which doesn’t surprise me in the least because he’s an honorable man.

His critique is that he doesn’t have certainty about what Miers believes when it comes to the Constitution. He doesn’t even want to engage on the issue of her lawyerly talent –he’ll concede that. Lawyerly talent is beside the point to him. So much for the shot –baseless– at her resume by a minor druid. It isn’t about the resume.

My response is that while there is no written record of Miers views, there is an abundance of evidence that she is an originalist, including the testimony of those who know her, her choice of places to work, the positions coming out of the White House during her long tenure there, and that she will have a chance to answer appropriate questions during her hearings. Her pro-life and pro-Second Amendment views cannot be challenged. Not enough for the druids. They want a Heritage/Cato/AEI/Claremont speech. Not there? Not good enough for them.

There is no little irony that Senate staffers who failed to persuade their Members’ caucus to break an unconstitutional filibuster when the time is ripe presume to lecture us on a nominee’s judicial philosophy and resume strength.

Low level, exiled officers in the French Army advising the Brits on how to conduct the war in 1941 would have had less hubris.

The three justices who did not disappoint the druids all came from inside the GOP Adminsitrations of the era –Thomas, Scalia, Rehnquist.

The three justices who disappointed deeply –Souter, Kennedy, and O’Connor– came from far away.

Harriet Miers comes from the front lines of a five year war with the left, and nearly as long a war with our real enemies.

And anonymous staffers mock her resume? That’s just unbelievable. Senators Kyl and Senator Brownback, Senators Sessions and Hatch, Senators Cornyn and Coburn and Grassly –are you really going to allow your people to be less honorable than the left?

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