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Do You Trust Them?

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Earlier I posted my reaction to the nomination of Harriet Miers. Some very good friends of mine are disappointed, like Peter Robinson. Other very serious conservative thinkers on matters involving the SCOTUS are disappointed, like Mark Levin.

These two, and many others, are conservative warriors. They don’t shrink from a fight. In fact, they’d like one on the issue of the SCOTUS nomination process. I think they’ll end up getting that fight, and on this nomination. The more we learn about Harriet Miers, the more certain we become of her character and future value on the Supreme Court.

James Dobson endorsed Harriet Miers today. Jay Sekulow endorsed Harriet Miers today. Add their endorsements to those of the president, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and numerous other Administration officials. Yes, I wanted Judge Luttig or Judge McConnell, but the president wanted Miers, and I don’t for a minute believe it is because of friendship, but because of W’s understanding of the importance of the Court.

President Bush has beaten the Dems like bongo drums for five plus years, and yet some conservatives are spooked by the fact that Harry Reid and Charles Schumer haven’t taken to the Senate floor to announce a attempt at a filibuster. Shouldn’t the presumption be –given the record of the past few election cycles– that the president knows what he is doing?

The hearings will be very, very interesting, and Democrats have put themselves in a very small box. It will be unfortunate if conservative loyalists help them out of it by legitimizing attacks on a dedicated and very qualified public servant.

My suspicion is that as Democrats review Miers personal story, and especially her obvious and deep personal faith, that “the groups” on the left will realize to their horror that, once again, the president has outflanked them. They may try to marshall their forces and launch an assault on Miers. The trouble with some conservatives declaring the end of the world as we know it is that they are effectively taking themselves out of this battle on the first day.

See also Patrick Ruffini, AnalPhilosopher, ImpactedWisdomTruth.

Note that isn’t wasting any time. Too bad some conservatives are. Here’s the e-mail from MoveOn’s hit team:

Dear MoveOn member,

This morning, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. Miers is a long-time political appointee, campaign counsel, personal lawyer and Bush loyalist who has never served as a judge.

Ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown taught us that vital national positions must be filled with qualified candidates, not political friends with limited experience. With such a thin public record, how can Americans know Harriet Miers’ approach to critical issues like corporate power, privacy and civil rights?

Right now we urgently need more information, and we need your help to get it. In the next few hours the Internet will fill with facts, anecdotes and rumors about Harriet Miers. We need your help to sort through it all, select the relevant and important details, and let us know what you find'”decentralized, grassroots research.

We’ve set up a simple web form where you can post facts and sources that will fill out the picture on what kind of Supreme Court justice Miers would be. We’ll get your research to the media, the Senate and our partner groups. This info will also be crucial in setting MoveOn’s course for this nomination. Even if you just have a few minutes to spare, it could help a lot at this crucial time.

You can post facts right now at:

Here is a quick chronology of Harriet Miers’ career, courtesy of the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, to help jump start your research.

1970′”Graduated from Southern Methodist University Law School
1970-1972′”Clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Joe Estes
1972-2001′”Joined Texas law firm, Locke, Purnell
1985′”Elected president of the Dallas Bar Association
1986-1989′”Member of the State Bar board of directors
1989-1991′”Elected and served one term on the Dallas City Council
1992′”Elected president of the Texas State Bar
1993-1994′”Worked as counsel for Bush’s gubernatorial campaign
1995-2000′”Appointed chairwoman of Texas Lottery Commission by Gov. George Bush
1996′”Became president of Locke, Purnell, and the first woman to lead a major Texas law firm
1998′”Presided over the merger of Locke, Purnell with another big Texas firm, Liddell, Sapp, Zivley, Hill & LaBoon, and became co-managing partner of the resulting megafirm, Locke Liddell & Sapp
2000′”Represented Bush and Cheney in a lawsuit stemming from their dual residency in Texas while running in the Presidential primary
2001′”Selected as staff secretary for President Bush
2003′”Promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
2004′”Selected as White House Counsel

There are many important questions that need to be addressed, including:

What policies did she advocate for on the Dallas City Council?
What was her record at the head of the scandal-ridden Texas Lottery Commission?
What cases did she take on while working as a corporate lawyer in private practice, and what positions did she fight for?
What has she written or said in and outside of her law practice about her views on constitutional issues like privacy, the “commerce clause” or equal protection
As White House councel Alberto Gonzales played a pivotal role in softening America’s stance on torture. What positions has Harriet Miers advocated for in the same role?
Has she ever publicly distanced herself from George W. Bush?
It’s important that we move quickly in answering these questions. The Bush spin machine has been prepared for this nomination for some time and is already cranking at full speed. The strategy is to move Miers through as an enigma. We need to make sure the facts about her views are known.

This kind of decentralized research may never have been tried before at this scale. But a Supreme Court nominee with a record only the president really knows is a new national challenge. If we act quickly, we can meet that challenge together.

Please pitch in by taking some time to research today, and post what you find at:

Thanks for all that you do,

‘”Ben, Marika, Rosalyn, Joan and the Political Action Team
Monday, October 3rd, 2005



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Do You Trust Him?

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Harriet Miers isn’t a Justice Souter pick, so don’t be silly. It is a solid, B+ pick. The first President Bush didn’t know David Souter, but trusted Chief of Staff Sunnunu and Senator Rudman. The first President Bush got burned badly because he trusted the enthusiams of others.

The second President Bush knows Harriet Miers, and knows her well. The White House Counsel is an unknown to most SCOTUS observors, but not to the president, who has seen her at work for great lengths of years and in very different situations, including as an advisor in wartime. Leonard Leo is very happy with the choice, which ought to be enough for most conservatices.

As I wrote last night, Judges Luttig and McConnell are the most qualified nominees out there, but I think from the start that the president must have decided that this seat would be given to a woman, and it is very hard to argue that she is not the most qualified woman to be on the SCOTUS for the simple reason that she has been in the White House for many years.

When Chief Justice Roberts was nominated, I wrote a piece for the Weekly Standard on the importance of Executive Branch experience, “The Presidents’ Man.” That piece focused on John Roberts’ service in the Counsel’s Office under Reagan, and concluded that his nomination brought

to the highest court the sort of experience it deserves among its members, especially in a time of war. It can only help all the justices, even those who will vigorously disagree with the new justice from time to time, to have within their number a genuine voice of experience from within the inner circles of presidential decision-making.

The Chief Justice’s experience did not, however, include GWOT experience, and it is here that Miers has a decisive advantage. Consider that none of the Justices, not even the new Chief, has seen the battlefield in the GWOT from the perspective or with the depth of knowledge as has the soon to be Justice Miers. The Counsel to the President has seen it all, and knows what the President knows, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Joint Chiefs and the Attorney General.

I suspect that the President thinks first and foremost about the GWOT each morning, and that this choice for SCOTUS brings to that bench another Article II inclined justice with the sort of experience that no one inside the Court will have.

If there is another opening, we will get the Attorney General, and for the first time in I don’t know how long, there will be a block of Article II enthusiasts within the preserve of Article III. If we get two more, a Justice Luttig or McConnell will rise.

The president is a poker player in a long game. He’s decided to take a sure win with a good sized pot. I trust him. So should his supporters.

UPDATE: Hinderaker calls me “ever-optimistic.” I’m not, and there were some people on the short list that would have trobled me greatly.

Rather, I teach Con Law and served in the White House Counsel’s office as well as other posts in the Executive Branch. This isn’t a Souter nomination, and it has very little Blackmun risk –bringing in a judge from the far reaches of the country only to have them seduced into “growing” in office. Harriet Miers has been in D.C. for every day of the nearly five years of the Bush presidency. Wake up people: Do you really think W is going to elevate a friend who doesn’t agree with him on the crucial issues of the day just because she’s a friend? Bush-haters like Sullivan will smoke that pipe, but no serious analyst of his judicial nominations.

Bush’s picks for the Bench have been stellar, and his support for them unwavering. Conservative critics of Miers are disappointed they didn’t get Luttig or McConnell, but many of them were also disappointed with Roberts. Meanwhile many folks who actually know the nominee are enthusiastic.

The Miers nomination is turning into a Rorschach test dividing conservatives into the camp that understands governing for the long term and those that are so emotionally fragile or contingent in their allegiance that anything they (1)don’t understand or (2) disappoints in any way becomes an occasion for panic and declarations of irreparable injury.

I also note that the hand-wringers act as though a Republican president is an accident, and that there won’t be any more Bush picks, nor any more Republican presidents. Keep up the carping and we might again see the Dems get close to an unbreakable filibuster margin in the Senate.

Memo to the White House folks: It might be a good time to nominate Roberts’ replacement on the D.C. Circuit, and to do so with a nominee that even the hair trigger critics of the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately caucus understand.


Carol Platt Liebau
–formerly of the Harvard Law Review and Capitol Hill– writes:

I think perhaps some of the criticism that is emanating from some D.C. conservatives is not only frustration with an opportunity wasted, but may also be a function of the fact that she is not a member of the Harvard/Yale/Supreme Court clerk/elite D.C. legal insider axis.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Old Media Bias Posts

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ZombieTime thrashes the San Francisco Chronicle in a post on a particular photo used in the paper’s coverage of anti-war demonstrations.

So thorough was this particular expose that the Chron would have been well advised to apologize for the disingenuous photo that concealed far, far more than it conveyed. If old media hubris prevents such useful transparency, then the paper ought to have kept silent.

No surprise here, like CBS’s behavior during Rathergate a year ago, or Dan Rather’s incredible conversation with Marvin Kalb a week ago, the paper’s “reader’s rep” did not seriously respond to very well documented criticism, but instead ran a defense of the paper’s conduct in today’s paper:

In complaints to me, to several reporters, to the managing editor and to the editor of SF Gate, e-mailers asserted that the paper had manipulated a front-page picture of a young San Francisco protester by cropping out radical imagery nearby. By doing so, they said, the paper was propagandizing, part of an effort to falsely portray the demonstration as centrist.

The tortured defense of the use of the photo that follows is so lame that it is almost a parody of a readers’ rep response. Dick Rogers job is apparently to rebut widespread reactions among readers. Rather than readers’ rep, perpahs we can have an “Editors’ Apologist” title.

Go read ZombieTime’s post and look at the pictures, and take particular note of the caption on the first Chron photo. Read the Rogers column. It should actually be far more worrisome to old media that Rogers sincerely believes what he writes than if in fact he was just spinning for a deeply embarassed “newsroom”.

A paper or a network committed to salvaging its reputation in such a situation publishes the e-mail it received –do we really trust the Chron to summarize the e-mails?– and then respond, paragraph by paragraph to ZombieTime’s critique. The length of such a response is not a problem at least at the internet site. Instead, like CBS and the forged documents, the paper’s response repackages the story in a fashion favorable to itself and doubles down.

My favorite bit:

ZombieTime writes:

Because the whole truth — that the girl was part of a group of naive teenagers recruited by Communist activists to wear terrorist-style bandannas and carry Palestinian flags and obscene placards — is disturbing, and doesn’t conform to the narrative that the Chronicle is trying to promote. By presenting the photo out of context, and only showing the one image that suits its purpose, the Chronicle is intentionally manipulating the reader’s impression of the rally, and the rally’s intent.

Readers’RepRogers responds:

The Chronicle photo didn’t exactly shout “Middle America.” It was far more dramatic and displayed the protester in far more detail. If the newspaper was setting out to “de-radicalize” the scene, it did a pretty lame job. If the paper wants to sanitize a protest, it should forget tight shots of radicals in disguise and go for pictures of suburban moms with young children. Now that’s centrist.

The summary of the criticism isn’t fair, and the reply isn’t responsive.

Mr. Rogers, since the paper used the photo to convey some sense of the rally and tagged the student as part of a youth leadership group, shouldn’t the paper have explained more about the youth leadership group and its adult leadership?

Did the photo inform or mislead. It clearly misled. That’s the point. The only point.

HT: Powerline.


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