Monday, October 10, 2005

Mad about Miers: Specter, Dobson, and the collapse of the Republican coalition

The Miers debacle continues:

The Washington Times, an unabashedly conservative publication, is reporting that "[n]early half of Senate Republicans say they remain unconvinced that Harriet Miers is worthy of being confirmed to the Supreme Court". Included among Miers's doubters: Senators Brownback, Coburn, Dole, Allen, Thune, and Lott. For his part, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter may be right that there's been "a stampede to judgment" in response to Miers's nomination, but doesn't the fact that the stampede is being led by Republican senators from the generally moderate Dole to the unambiguously conservative Brownback say something about her qualifications, or lack thereof, for a seat on the Supreme Court?

The New York Times is reporting that the SJC may "[call] the evangelical conservative James C. Dobson to testify on what he has been told about [Miers]". Dobson, you may recall, has already endorsed Miers's nomination (even as other leading conservatives like Brownback remain unconvinced -- see my previous post on reactions from across the spectrum):

Mr. Dobson, the influential founder of the conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family, has said he is supporting Ms. Miers's nomination in part because of something he has been told but cannot divulge. He has not disclosed the source of the information, but he has acknowledged speaking with Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, about the president's pick before it was announced.

On his radio program last Wednesday, Mr. Dobson said, "When you know some of the things that I know - that I probably shouldn't know - you will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, that I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice." He added, in a reference to aborted fetuses, "if I have made a mistake here, I will never forget the blood of those babies that will die will be on my hands to some degree."

How typical of the Bush Administration to act in such a way, but do we need the SJC to find out for us what is abundantly clear, namely, that Dobson has been assured that Miers is fundamentally pro-life and will, if confirmed, work to erode, if not reverse, America's abortion laws? Or is Bush now just spinning his own base?

Bloomberg has more on this.

Schumer: "Karl Rove ought to let the public know what kind of assurances he gave James Dobson." Yes, absolutely.

Specter: "I think she may well turn out to be the best-qualified person he could find once we give her a chance to be heard." I've always liked Specter, but has he lost his mind?

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Around the blogosphere:

AMERICAblog weighs in. Also here.

So does TalkLeft.

Legal Fiction has some good stuff on Miers and the apparent disintegration of the Republican coalition.

Daily Pundit: "I'm beginning to think that John McCain may step in and kill this nomination in order to keep it from splitting the base he's going to need for his own campaign in 2008." Unlikely, I suspect, but it'll be interesting to see how McCain deals with this continuing crisis in the Republican Party.

And the moaning and groaning on the right continues:

Power Line, which initially reacted with disappointment to Miers's nomination, questions Specter's (and others') concerns about Miers's alleged lack of qualifications. And now thinks that she should be confirmed. Can you say, cowardice? Can you say, toe the party line?

Hugh Hewitt, one of Miers's backers from the get-go, claims that constitutional law really isn't all that difficult (and that Miers is therefore qualified), but The Volokh Conspiracy remains understandably unconvinced: "To be fair, I agree with Hugh that Supreme Court Justices don't need to be academic super stars. But they do need to be reasonably self-aware. And my guess is that self-awareness tends to come most often from the experience of testing and evaluating arguments again and again, whether as a judge or in some other forum." Um, exactly. See George Will's anti-Miers column for more along these lines.

RedState, linking to a piece by Ed "Captain's Quarters" Morrissey in the Post, comments on the fragmentation on "the right side of the blogosphere".

Speaking of which, Morrissey's piece, "How Harriet Unleashed a Storm on the Right," is a must-read, especially for those of us who wish to understand the right even as we work to accelerate its collapse. It includes an excellent breakdown of the main factions on the right and within the Republican coalition. It begins:

Well, he's finally done it. By nominating White House lawyer Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, George Bush has managed to accomplish what Al Gore, John Kerry, Tom Daschle and any number of Democratic heavyweights have been unable to do: He has cracked the Republican monolith. Split his own party activists. And how.

The president's surprise pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor has ignited a massive debate among his former loyalists, especially in the blogosphere, where I spend a fair amount of time. Wails of betrayal are clashing with assurances of the president's brilliant strategic thinking. Meanwhile, the heavyweights of punditry drop columns like artillery shells into what already may be a conservative civil war.


(A conservative civil war? Joy to the world. Salivate, my friends, but don't get ahead of yourselves.)

See also the Brothers Judd.

At The Claremont Institute, a think-tank populated with Straussians that make me embarrassed to be a Straussian myself, Ken Masugi shows just how crazy the right can be (and is) -- hint: he thinks Thomas was indeed "the most qualified nominee" when Bush I tapped him for the Court.

Instapundit and Michelle Malkin have useful round-ups, both with loads of links.

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You know, I haven't often linked to the right-wing blogosphere during the six months or so that I've been writing The Reaction, but the right's self-destructive response to the Miers nomination continues to amuse and encourage me -- (even as I agree with Will, Krauthammer, Kristol, and certain other sober conservatives that the nomination of such a disturbingly unqualified candidate is pathetic).

Yes, how enjoyable it is to revel in the misery and misfortune of the Republican coalition!

Schadenfreude, the Germans call it. (Go look it up.)

And here it's fully appropriate.

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