Oct 10 2005

Conservatives Losing Base Over Miers

Published by at 10:32 am under All General Discussions,Miers Nomination

Well, the chattering class and those ‘unique’ Republican Senators are rapidly losing touch with the base over Miers. What should have been an easy nomination for a gifted and well rounded woman has turned into a disaster for the conservative movement. The Washington Times does a great job today pointing out the rift between President Bush – with the base supporting him – and the talking heads and Rep Senators.

First the base:

The Republican base across the country looks more favorably on President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court than the cluster of conservative critics who are opposing her inside the Beltway, according to a Washington Times survey of state party chairmen.

Eileen Melvin, chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, said she had just come from a meeting with state committee members in conservative Lancaster County, where she asked them what they thought of the Miers nomination. “They said we trust the president,” she said.

Note to Santorum: Are you trying to get re-elected? Note to Senators: Do you want him to get re-elected?

In Oregon, “the rank and file of the party are generally concerned that various conservatives are beating up on the president about the Miers appointment,” party Chairman Vance Day said.

In Washington state, party Chairman Chris Vance said he e-mailed information about Miss Miers, provided by the Republican National Committee, to a statewide list of 10,000 Republican officials and grass-roots activists. “The next day, I got less than 10 e-mails out of 10,000 from people who were upset with the nomination,” Mr. Vance said.

Remember when we once had plans to pick up a Senate seat in Washington state? Kiss those dreams good-bye.

In Alabama, a state that gave Mr. Bush 62.5 percent of its vote last year, Republican Chairman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh said, “People respect [Mr. Bush’s] choice. A lot of people would like to know more about her, but the president has had the most personal contact with her, knows her thoughts, abilities and beliefs, and we trust him to make the right decision. Overwhelmingly, that’s what I hear people saying.”

In Vermont, Republican state Chairman Jim Barnett says he has “heard nothing but support” from the party’s base.

“From my perspective, the skepticism and criticism [from conservative groups] is an inside-the-Beltway phenomenon,” Mr. Barnett said.

Here is the piece which discusses the possibility of a Rep Senate defying Bush and throwing away the next 3 years of his second term:

Nearly half of Senate Republicans say they remain unconvinced that Harriet Miers is worthy of being confirmed to the Supreme Court, according to a survey conducted by The Washington Times.

Nearly half the GOP senate is ready to defy its base as well.

Too many had hopes that we would get a Luttig, to be another clone of Scalia, Thomas and Roberts – all fine jurists, don’t get me wrong. I would not want to lose a single one of them. But the point is we have stalwart legal scholars to make the case and write the opinions we all want to see.

What we do not have is a lot of expertise from the private sector and from the very critical realm of dealing with the War on Terror, Homeland Defense and the Patriot Act. In fact, I suspect the uproar on Miers has more to do with the latter than most are letting on. I have not done the research, but I would guess the same folks who balk at the Patriot Act from the right oppose Miers.

So let’s assume Miers is a B+ conservative scholar (doubtful, I suspect she is an A – but for the sake of argument…) and is reliable a vote as Luttig would be on pro life issues. That would give her an 85 (old school scales) for scholarly to his 100, they both get 100 on voting. With this kind of tunnel-vision-view Luttig looks like the better candidate.

We will leave Miers private sector background out of this for now.

Now we need expertise on the bench to debate and argue the legal issues revolving around the War on Terror, Homeland Defense and the Patriot Act. Each one of these areas is facing legal challenges by liberals, and there is a woeful lack of experience in these matters on the US SC.

For example, I am a fairly well known voice on Able Danger. Able Danger used sophisticated information search and processing technologies to identify possible terrorists using public information. A lot of people commenting at my site and others want to make sure this capability is used. But it has enormous legal challenges associated with it.

With Harriet Miers on the bench we have a better chance of having a proper debate regarding constitutional safe guards and gates related to this form of analysis.

The Senate just stuck its nose in how long we can detain enemy combatants before setting them free to try and kill us again. We have the entire issue of border security. All these things need to be addressed and will be challenged in court by the opposition.

Luttig scores a 40 in this key area. He is probably book and media read on the subject. I do not know – I am making a wild guess here. But Miers gets a 100 for her work beside Bush since 9-11. She has reviewed all sorts of relevant policy ideas and and probably helped framed the policy implementations to withstand constitutional muster.

Now when you compare Luttig and Miers in this broader context the score is Luttig 80 (100, 100, 40 divided by 3) and Miers 95 (100, 100, 85). Now who is ‘best qualified’?

What is worse is we have plenty of Luttig-types on the US SC bench now. It is not like the pro-life brain trust on the court is under represented or under powered. Even if Miers is every nasty thing her critics say regarding her ability to argue the pro life line (big ‘if’ here), her vote is all that is needed.

So we are witnessing the take over of the party by ideologues who place Roe V Wade over everything else – including national security. I am pro life, but I am not obsessed to this level. Especially since I know Miers will get confirmed and the pro life fanatics (as opposed to pro life stalwarts) will lose all credibility with the base for bringing us this unnecessary fight.

Critics also need to remember that those of us watching this unfold will compare the critic to the target when assessing the critique. The critics of Miers and Bush have very little standing when compared to Miers and Bush. The critics may feel they have all the logic in the world backing them up, but I would take the advise of a President over some Editor of a niche political magazine. Sorry, but on the scales of lifetime achievements, even the Senators can only barely compete with Miers – unless of course she is confirmed. Then there would be no competition in my mind.

To emphasize how unnecessary this fight is I will highlight a passage from Paul Mirengoff of Powerline, in his awkward attempt to rationalize his new support for Miers in a Weekly Standard article:

In fact, we cannot even be highly confident that Bush has nominated a reliably conservative vote, as opposed a swing vote in the O’Connor or Kennedy style.

They argue that Bush is in the best position to know what kind of Justice Miers will be, so that if he assures us that Miers is a judicial conservative, we have no reason to doubt his word.

A president usually deals with his White Counsel at a very high level. It’s not likely that Bush (a non-lawyer) and Miers have had in-depth discussions about constitutional law. Thus, while Bush might be in a position to know very generally that Miers is a conservative as opposed to a liberal or a centrist, he’s not likely to know whether she has a solid conservative judicial philosophy of constitutional adjudication, much less what she thinks about specific constitutional issues.

You can read the rest if you want to, but the point is clear. I posted The Miers Test for Pundits just for this kind of weak argument. The test asks two questions:

(1) Is the issue based on a lack of direct knowledge about Miers’ views and intellect?

(2) Does the issue rely on the distant pundit being able to discern more the President Bush, even though Bush knows this woman quite well?

Two ‘yes’ answers and you have a straw man argument. You have theory piled on top of conjecture, buttressed by speculations regarding marginal probabilities. Notice how Mr. Mirengoff has to see through walls, at distance and over time, to determine Bush has no clue to Miers detailed views on issues. Even though she has been assisting in the vetting of judicial nominees, where I am sure the subject of constitutional law came up at least once.

This is what we have folks: nothing. We are engaged in a civil war based on this kind of reasoning, by lawyers and legal experts who wouldn’t dare take this as a case to a jury! But blindly these ‘experts’ go forth calling for this debacle.

I’ll leave you with some definitions to ponder (though this is aimed more at those paragons of virtue at Redstate):


a. One who is zealous, especially excessively so.
b. A fanatically committed person.


A person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause.


One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics.

Funny thing here, is I was excoriated at Redstate for not understanding the words I was using! Ain’t that special?


Michelle Malkin has more on this schism between the base on the chattering class and Pols (via Peace Like A River, who has this post)

Ed Morrissey also has some good thoughts on the subject here.

Definitely read this Lori Byrd post on Miers and ask yourself again why are we being so hard on this person when the real problem is we simply do not know her as well as Bush?

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Conservatives Losing Base Over Miers”

  1. An itchy trigger finger

    Paul Mirengoff, contributor to Power Line, has an excellent bit of analysis up at the Weekly Standard, but one with a bit of an O. Henry twist.

  2. Observer says:

    Maybe tactics like this one add to the disillusionment.

    Laura Bush was at the Colonial Fire Hall in Hamilton, N.J., telling about 700 pre-selected ticket-holding Bush faithful why they needed to vote for her husband. The First Lady went through the usual litany of what she believed were her husband’s accomplishments, frequently invoking the memory of 9/11. And then she told the crowd why the nation needed to support her husband’s war. “It’s for our country, it’s for our children and our grandchildren, that we do the hard work of confronting terror and promoting democracy,” said the First Lady.

    That’s when Sue Niederer, a 55-year-old teacher and Realtor, standing at the back of the hall, just couldn’t take it any more. “If the Iraq war is so necessary,” she called out, “why don’t your children serve?” That’s when the Secret Service came by, when Republican volunteers pushed and shoved her, and raised Bush campaign signs around her to block her from talking and to prevent the media from turning their cameras to her. A few in the crowd had tried to come to her defense, one person shouting out, “She has a right to speak. She’s a mother.” But, the “right to speak” was drowned out, as were Niederer’s own comments, by the partisan chant, “Four More Years! Four more years!”—just in case Niederer or anyone else had anything to say that the crowd thought might be high treason.

    Until she spoke out, exercising what she believed were her First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, most had not seen her shirt. Shortly before she spoke out, she put on a T-shirt with a picture of her 24-year-old son, and the words, “President Bush, You Killed My Son.” Her son was Second Lt. Seth Dvorin, of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He was wounded in November 2003 from a roadside bomb; on Feb. 3, 2004, he was killed in Iraq by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), sometimes known as booby-traps and land mines. Dvorin wasn’t trained for bomb disposal, says his mother. What he was trained to do was to be an air defense artillery officer. But, training matters little in war. His unit had been sent to locate IEDs along roads. “It was a suicide mission,” says Niederer. “They’re still sending out patrols on foot to locate IEDs,” she says.

    After their son was killed, Niederer and her ex-husband, Richard Dvorin, a retired New Brunswick police officer, and Seth’s father, both sent letters to the President; the only response was a form letter asking for campaign contributions.

  3. The Coming Storm

    Remind me to miss the Harriett Meirs confirmation hearings next month. Quite frankly, it isn’t going to be pretty.

  4. madasheck says:


    Polls from the Red States (rank-and-file polls) have been all over the map but there’s been a preponderance lately of polls very hostile toward Miers. Many of the polls in support of her came out prior to the news of her support for affirmative action. Indeed, before this, I was a supporter too. But after the affirmative action knowledge came out, with her support for race and gender preferences, the polls have been tipping strongly against her. Anybody supporting a class-based AA would be fine, but not this abhorrent form based on gender and race. She is not acceptable to the rank-and-file, and I personally know dozens of loyal Republicans over decades who will not donate another cent to the party. Only a Dem nod to Hillary Clinton for the 2008 nomination would bring the grass-roots back into the Republican Party– otherwise, this split is just far too deep to repair.

  5. More Miers

    I have been reading some of the comments left at Free Republic with alarm. It is amazing how quick some on the right are to tear apart this President over nothing but speculation. It almost seems as if the lib’s over at DummiesU have infiltrat…