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The Upside of Jet Lag…

Tuesday, October 25, 2005  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

is getting caught up on my posting.

First, some Miers commentary that deserves reading: John Hinderaker’s fine piece on the state of play, and Jack Kelly’s worrisome assessment of the need to withdraw the nomination. Jack’s a very sober character, and did not rush to the ramparts to pour boiling oil on Miers, so his column is not welcome news to the anti-anti-Miers camp. (If you aren’t reading Kelly’s blog, Irish Pennants, you should be.)

But I think Kelly makes a huge miscalculation when he predicts that the hearings will worsen the situation. I know a lot of folks who are predicting disaster, and have read the anonymous reports of Miers’ murder boards and courtesy calls going poorly.

Did it occur to anyone that it is possible that the White House is working overtime to lower the expectations? Does anyone think that Joe Biden is going to make Harriet Miers look bad? Have any pundits speculated that in fact the hearings are going to generate intense interest, and that if the Dems launch an assault on Miers, it will have a huge impact on the working women of America, not the GOP’s strongest demographic?

Debra Saunders joins the anti-anti-Miers caucus.

Over at Powerline, the various posts and points of view on the nomination are an excellent example of how practioners are approaching the debate, which like the posts at Hedgehog and Beldar, are markedly different from those of pure pundits who have not sat first chair through lengthy trials, argued complicated motions on short notice, fenced through endless depositions or negotiated a huge partnership through an annual points redistribution.

The modern, large law firm is such a very different beast than it was when the last big firm partner joined the court –a date and name for which I can’t even figure out. The appreciation for the skills set that a senior partner and indeed a managing partner brings to the table is very impressive and also very obscure outside of the world of American Lawyer. One reason I believe Miers will do well in the hearings is this background, where daily she had to guide ego-driven, powerful and talented lawyers to a common goal. I have been waiting to see if some disgruntled former partner was going to launch a salvo at Miers, but have not yet found such an item, which is very surprising given the opportunities for imagined grievances in large firms.

Explaining what a managing partner of a large law firm does would be a very welcome bit of information in this debate, and if any authority wants to send me an e-mail on the topic, I’d love to post it. If any large firm’s managing partner wants to be interviewed on air, I’d love that too.

Polipundit quotes a Time report that continues the anonymous source parade on the nomination, and then asks “[w]hy do we have to read about this in hush-hush gossipy articles? Is there not one senator who can go on record with his or her unhappiness?”

The answer is of course these senators and their conversations may be complete fictions or these senators may be trying to push the nominee into a mistake or they may be helping in the business of setting up the hearings to be a Miers success. I repeat that anonymous stuff is just chaff, and deserves exactly zero weight in assessing Miers’ suitability or confirmability.

HT to Glenn for pointing me to Ryan Sager’s new column which in turn points me to Ryan’s fine blog. Sager’s column presents some pessimistic and some less pessimistic thoughts on the GOP prospects for next November. I think he is far too gloomy, though that is not unusual given the Miers intra-party squabble.

Quick summary on why 2006 is different from other six-year-of-a presidency elections:

The Dems have a huge and unbridgeable gap on national security.

Iraq will have a functioning and non-threatening government and a rapidly progressing armed forces.

The economy will have survived enormous hits –oil prices and Katrina/Rita/Wilma– because of Bush’s tax policies.

The 2006 Senate map dramatically favors the GOP.

The money advantage to the GOP, flowing from majorities in both Houses.

The redistricted map in the House from 2002 plus the 2004 Texas redistricting dramatically favors the GOP.

The incredible incompetence of the Dems and the growing influence of the fringe left within the Democratic Party.

There are certainly difficulties, but nothing approaching the Hillary Care/gays in the military/beginning of scandals that marked 1994.

And there is nothing resembling the Contract with America.

I think 2006 is going to look a lot more like 2002 than any other off-year in history. The realignment is real and lasting –if the GOP doesn’t carve itself up over matters such as Miers and immigration.

Finally, I haven’t posted much on the Plame grand jury because of my certainty that no one knows what’s going on, period. The old saying applies: Those that say they know don’t, and those that know aren’t saying.

But I think everyone should read former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy’s post on Special Prosecutor McCarthy from this morning’s Corner:

Pat Fitzgerald is the best prosecutor I have ever seen. By a mile. He is also the straightest shooter I have ever seen ‘” by at least that much. And most importantly, he is a good man.

This investigation has gone on for 22 months. Most of the evidence was collected before autumn 2004 ‘” the last year of delay has mainly been caused by reporters challenging subpoenas in the federal courts.

If Pat were political ‘” or, worse, if he somehow had it in for the Bush administration ‘” it was fully within his power to return indictments in the weeks before the November elections, which would almost certainly have cinched things for Senator Kerry. It is something, I am quite certain, it would never even have occurred to him to do. The only thing the guy I know would do is bring charges or close the case without charges when the facts of the investigation warranted doing so.

Unlike his predecessor, President Bush has been a model of decorum throughout this investigation, regarding it as a serious matter and being respectful and complimentary in light of the professional way in which it’s been conducted. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I think people would do well to follow the President’s lead. They will be far less likely then to look foolish later on.

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