The sort of conservative critique of Harriet Miers that ought to embarass all conservatives is a personal attack that makes sweeping assertions without a detailed factual basis, and which also makes claims that can not be rebutted by resort to evidence, present or future. It is the sort of critique that David Frum makes this morning. The ordianrily persuasive and careful Frum doubles down (triples down?) on his first blast at Miers, and does so in such a fashion as to raise the question of whether there is some personal ax being ground fine here. Frum served 13 months in the Bush White House as a speechwriter, a time when Harriet Miers was Staff Secretary, so they know each other — a little or a lot, I don’t know. Given what follows in this column, you have to wonder what sort of relationship they had.
Here’s the key paragraphs of the Frum blog from this morning:
Those who object to the Miers nomination do not object to her lack of credentials. They object to her lack of what the credentials represent: some indication of outstanding ability.
The objection to Miers is not that she is not experienced enough or not expensively enough educated for the job. It is that she is not good enough for the job.
(See more on this in my article in the next print NR.)
And she will remain not good enough even if she votes the right way on the court, or anyway starts out voting the right way. A Supreme Court justice is more than just a vote. A justice is also a voice.
Not only is Frum inaccurately reporting the harshest criticism made of Miers –though not from him– he is turning his face from all contrary evidence already on the table and, incredibly, puts forward the anti-intellectual argument that nothing she does or writes in the future will be enough to ever prove him wrong.
Frum has spoken. The issue is settled.
Between this approach, and Rod Dreher’s comparison of the Miers nomination to a nomination of Barney the First Dog, the good folks at NationalReview.com have set some new standards for conservative commentary.