Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, October 03, 2005

Supreme Court Nominee: Harriet Meirs

The overwhelming reaction from the conservative and libertarian blogs has been a resounding "Who?"

After that, the unanimity quickly fragments, but there are discernible patterns. Pardon the lack of links, but really I'm distilling a day's worth of reading blogs and comments into a few general approaches, and that's not very conducive to linkage.

1. Meirs is a closet liberal, another stealth-appointee who will go Souter faster than you can say "Democrats laughing their collective asses off." Need proof? How about an endorsement by Harry Reid? There's much more ammo, including a law school comment she wrote (back in 1968) about shaping social policy, and possible support for the International Criminal Court. But Leftist enthusiasm for the pick is the primary exhibit (interestingly, DailyKos has already begun speculating out loud that because she is unmarried and has no kids, she must be a lesbian).

2. Meirs is a hard-core conservative. She has been Bush's close confidant for years and years, so the risk of Souter II is a chimera. That she has never been a judge is immaterial, because lots of Supremes were never judges beforehand. We trust Bush because his personel decisions have all been reliable (*ahem, Mineta*), especially for judges.

3. Regardless of whether she is a liberal or a conservative, the most salient point is that we simply don't know, and by golly, Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House of Reps, and most governor's chairs. Maybe she's the second coming of George Washington in female form, but that evades the critical point that conservatives shouldn't have to wonder about this at all. We've earned the right to absolute, 100% certainty, and the fact that Bush didn't pick an established, paper-trailed, dyed-in-the-wool ultra-right-winger is nothing less than wussing out in the face of Democrat threats. In other words, why did we bother voting for you, Bush, if you're going to do what the Democrats want all the time?

4. It's simply too early to tell, and the massive, nigh-universal right-wing freak out is premature, unbecoming, unnecessarily defeatist, and counter-productive.

I note in connection with number 4 that "it's too early to tell" is not incompatible with number 3. The point of number 3 is not that Meirs is unqualified or of the wrong political persuasion, but rather that GWB failed us by picking someone about whom it can legitimately be said "it's too early to tell." I agree emphatically with the point that it's too early to tell, but if Bush had nominated for example Janice Rogers Brown, it would not be too early to tell, because we would know right now. With that in mind, I should point out that the near-unanimous conservative reaction has been against the President, rather than again Meirs herself. It is possible to take a wait-and-see on Meirs and still be ticked off at GWB right freakin now.

For the record, my reaction was in the number 3 camp. I won't defend the woman, because she's got no paper trail to defend. And I'll certainly not defend her simply because the President likes her, because that's no basis to pick Supreme Court justices. By that same token, I won't attack her. Maybe Harry Reid is too stupid or compromised to realize she's hard-Right. Maybe she wrote that law school comment when she was young and dumb, and has since changed her mind. Maybe she doesn't approve of the ICC after all. And maybe her donation to the Gore '88 campaign was either coerced or reflective of her intent to preserve the Democrat party, back before Gore became synonymous with frothing at the mouth Unabomber-sympathizing enviro-psycho-liberalism. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But why all the maybes? Why can't I click on Drudge this morning and see the nominee, and instantly think, "Sweet"? What could it possibly take to get it through Bush's skull that he won the last election, and that the Republicans control the Senate?

I note that Rush Limbaugh apparently agrees with my reaction. The link is to an interview with Dick Cheney this morning:

"Cheney: ... He's convinced Harriet will do a great job on the court, as am I, and you'll find when we look back ten years from now that it will have been a great appointment.
Rush: Well, that's what everybody is hoping. The question is: Why do we need to wait ten years? There are people that he could have nominated that we would know about now."

And that leads to the final point, which is that the choice seems to have been motivated by nothing more than naked political cronyism. Meirs has no judicial experience, no Ivy League education, not lengthy list of scholarly publications. It seems she's a competent corporate attorney, but a corporate attorney doesn't do much in the way of Constitutional Law. In other words, the flip side of the "she might be a conservative after all" coin is "why her, in particular?" What has she ever done, other than be friends with the President, do get the nomination, when the list of highly qualified, highly scholarly and indubitably conservative judges is so long? And the only answer I can think of is that friendship. Bush can put his pals on the court, so that's what he's doing, it would seem.

Getting back to point 4, we really do have to wait and see what the confirmation hearings bring to light, and when she is confirmed, what she does. Jumping to conclusions (including threats to abandon the Republican party altogether) seems inappropriate. But man, Bush certainly does know how to unite the country when he sees fit. I just wish we weren't all united against him.

Also: If you're terribly interested, check out Ace (2, 3, 4, 5), Are You Conservative?, Garfield Ridge, Llama Butchers (2, 3, 4), Jawa Report (2), My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Politburo Diktat, Protein Wisdom (2, 3, 4), Riehl World View, Six Meat Buffet, The Therapist, Vodka Pundit (2), and Wizbang.

I should also point out that TSL has an interesting and penetrating view of some possible alternatives.