No Republican senator has publicly suggested that she withdraw. But on Tuesday some offered notably neutral comments about the question.
If there is no clear and convincing evidence that Harriett Miers is not qualified for SCOTUS –and thus far there is nothing remotely approaching a persuasive case for a “no” vote– any GOP senator that votes against her will be asking for the same treatment at the polls as Miers received from him or her.
Getting this vote wrong will be disastrous for the GOP, with possible consequences including Patrick Leahy returning to the chair of the Judiciary Committeee for starters. Michael Barone was right to call it a 51-49 or 51-48 nation after last year’s election. That crucial margin can be lost. In such a situation, the GOP cannot send even 3% of its supporters to the sidelines.
And no GOP senator who, post-Jeffords, really understood the difference between majority and minority, will boldly demand purity over party. To do so is to ask for the responsibility for set-backs to be laid at their feet rather than the president’s.
Notice how the folks who voted to confirm Justice Souter are not blamed for Justice Souter’s record, but the first President Bush is? (And his staff.) If Miers does well at the hearings, it will be political suicide to vote against her if the nomination is defeated.
Public choice theory holds that electeds do what is in their self-interest. It is not in the self-interest of any GOP senator to vote against Miers. I look forward to reading any post that argues the opposite.
Innuendo and high panic will not do. The hearings will be the forum for this debate.