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Fallout, Forward Thinking, and a Real Tragedy

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Here’s my New York Times piece on the Miers withdrawal.

An ally on the losing side, Penraker, is worried that my piece will tip the left to the downside of the Miers’ defeat.

I point to DailyKos’ post that provides the Dems’ talking points which anticipated my argument.

The good news is that none of these senators went public with a demand for withdrawal without an up-or-down vote, and it is crucial that the GOP remains formally committed to that standard.

The damage is that some our most talented pundits will be DQed in future conflicts with Dems.

Will the imminent statehouse races in New Jersey and Virginia suffer as a result of a run of three weeks of incessant blasting of a Bush nominee? Hard to say, but the results cannot be as strong as they would have been, and as proof I offer the negative e-mails at NRO’s The Corner. There is a deeply disturbed and disappointed group of GOP voters dismayed by the treatment of Miers. I don’t know how big it is –it isn’t small– and I don’t know which would have been the less bitter result, but there is no denying the political damage done to the GOP, and in the hands of competent propagandists of the left, this debacle could be costly indeed.

When the next nominee is announced, no matter who it is, it is crucial that those on the right tempted to react negatively for whatever reason at least hold their fire for a few days. A second mugging would more than double the damage done thus far.

Bob Woodward announced that there is “deep mystery here” on Larry King tonight, referencing thre Plame affair. How absurd. Scooter Libby appears to be the only target, and it won’t be for “outing” Valerie Plame. John Hinderaker has a great post on this subject.

This seems to me to be about the most obscure kind of Beltway secret handshake game going, with zero traction outside of the fever swamp. If Karl Rove isn’t indicted after two years, he is vindicated, period. And Libby’s defense will cause a great deal more heartburn to MSM than it will to the White House or the GOP, though as with the beating Miers took, I am saddened that another public servant is going to have to run a different gauntlet because a man of obviously zero integrity took an assignment he ought to have declined given to him because of the certainty he’d bring back what the anti-Bush CIA types wanted.

Lileks (buy his new book) said on the program tonight that it is good to get the third year of a second term over in the first year of the second term. He is right. The president has some big wins in 2005, including the approval of a constitution in Iraq, the elections in Afghanistan, some tort reform, an energy bill, a widely respected choice to succeed Greenspan, most of his appellate judges confirmed and a new Chief Justice as well as a second shot at the O’Connor seat.

In a “bad” year he has accomplished more than Clinton did in eight, he has teed up the ball nicely on social security reform, the struggle with North Korea has not gone south and may be going north, though Iran continues to alarm any reasonable person. Peggy Noonan was right to identify the various perils that plague America and will continue to do so, but her conclusion that “the presidency [is] another institution in trouble,” seems far, far too alarmist to me.

And it also undervalues real tragedy.

Which brings me to a wholly unrelated-to-politics note.

I attended today the funeral for a 19 year old Vandy sophomore, a brilliant, beautiful, talented, life-loving and life-celebrating surfer/scholar/sister/daughter. We know her through her equally wonderful sister, and many others through her tremendously giving family. As my wife said to me afterwards, it was the saddest service we have ever attended, but also one of the most uplifting, as her sister’s, brother’s, and her father’s salute to her life –read by his brother as he remains hospitalized from the accident that took her– reminded the hundreds and hundreds of mourners that Jessica was all about courage and adventure.

This is real tragedy and loss, not its counterfeit, political defeat. We should never confuse the two. Pray for her family, and the families of all who lose a child.


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