I think it is safe to say, at this point, that the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court has created an explosion, but not where people expected. To one degree or another, cultural conservatives are either furious or they are offering some of the most interesting intellectual tap-dancing that you have ever seen. One way to tune this in is over at World magazine’s blog, where Marvin Olasky is letting people sound off.
But you can also judge the reaction by attempting — go ahead, I dare you — to get The Weekly Standard home page to load on your computer screen. Bill Kristol has written a piece so angry and blunt that the Standard‘s servers have been straining to keep up with the demand all day. Here is the link again.
I’M DISAPPOINTED, depressed and demoralized.
I’m disappointed because I expected President Bush to nominate someone with a visible and distinguished constitutionalist track record — someone like Maura Corrigan, Alice Batchelder, Edith Jones, Priscilla Owen, or Janice Rogers Brown — to say nothing of Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, or Samuel Alito. Harriet Miers has an impressive record as a corporate attorney and Bush administration official. She has no constitutionalist credentials that I know of.
I’m depressed. Roberts for O’Connor was an unambiguous improvement. Roberts for Rehnquist was an appropriate replacement. But moving Roberts over to the Rehnquist seat meant everything rode on this nomination — and that the president had to be ready to fight on constitutional grounds for a strong nominee. Apparently, he wasn’t. It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that President Bush flinched from a fight on constitutional philosophy. Miers is undoubtedly a decent and competent person. But her selection will unavoidably be judged as reflecting a combination of cronyism and capitulation on the part of the president.
I’m demoralized. What does this say about the next three years of the Bush administration — leaving aside for a moment the future of the Court? Surely this is a pick from weakness. Is the administration more broadly so weak? What are the prospects for a strong Bush second term? What are the prospects for holding solid GOP majorities in Congress in 2006 if conservatives are demoralized? And what elected officials will step forward to begin to lay the groundwork for conservative leadership after Bush?
There is that big “C” word again and it is not “conservative.” It’s cronyism. People on the right are asking if this is the final sign that President George W. Bush has jumped the shark. Here is a key question: What do the cultural conservatives think that Bush should do, not what he has made this announcement? Hold lots of secret private meetings to describe this stealth candidate? Roll her born-again credentials out in a public display? What happens now?
Over on the other side of the aisle, you can read the official Bush v. Choice blog at NARAL, which should keep the links coming on the left. It is interesting that Sen. Harry Reid is sounding content, if not quietly happy. Ah, but does he know about the nominee’s church? I wish I could tell you more about Valley View Christian Church, but its servers are now getting pounded so hard that the home page will not load on either of my work computers.
But when I can get back in there, I will let you know what I have found. I also hope that my partners weigh in here on what they are seeing in the foreign press and in the websites for the magazines. It is going to be a wild 24 hours.
P.S. On the earlier Exodus item — Ex-Gay Watch says Miers worked for the mainline post-prison ministry, not the ministry for those struggling to change their sexual behavior. Andrew Sullivan is breathing easier, sort of, as he reads the rage over at RedState.org and elsewhere. (Oh, hi Andrew!)