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The e-mails are deeply divided and vehement on both sides. Anti-anti-Miers people want me to christen the Coaltion of Robert the Bruce and start naming names, call for the cancellation of various subscriptions, and gather Octavious Lepidus and Anthony for a list-making. The anti-Miers people want the same thing, just with different names attached.

The nomination of Miers is one of three things: a brilliant move by the president; a blunder like Reagan’s nominations of Justice O’Connor and Kennedy or the first Bush’s of Souter; or a betrayal of the sort that occasions taking leave of the whole project.

Other than those who are easily betrayed –and probably already feeling betrayed because of budget deficits of less than 5% GDP or a failure to put machine guns on the Mexican border– the GOP voters in the last category are very few indeed. They have disproportionate representation among the conservative punditry.

There are quite a few pundits who feel the president has blundered, some badly. Time will tell, as will other factors such as the number of additional vacancies he gets to fill, and his nominees for those slots.

But only a disingenuous pundit will argue that it is better to lose ground in the elections of 2006 than to maintain or gain grouynd then. And only a self-deceiving individual will argue Hillary-Obama is getting hurt by this intra-party melt-down.

Some elaborate arguments will now be forthcoming on why it really helps the Adminsitration if the nominee is defeated. They will be like the SCOTUS majority’s elaborate argument in Casey, Romer, Lawrence and other decisions.

To put it bluntly: There is zero advantage and plenty of harm in defeating Miers, including the very obvious encouragement of the previously fever-swamp argument that Bush was a lame duck. It is also certain that a crucial slice of the evangelical base will perceive in the rejection of Miers a rejection of their status as equal partners in the governing coalition. Even if that slice is small –and it does not appear small to me at this point– it is strategic.

Concern over the direction of SCOTUS –an issue second only to winning the GWOT– counsels support of Miers. Even those convinced it is a blunder ought to now turn their attention to the Iraq elections and away from Miers until the hearings are underway.

Not that they will. Only that they should.


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