Harriet Miers Withdraws, Bush Administration Reeling
A friend of mine in the judiciary said this morning that he first began to think Miers' chances of confirmation were diminishing when she went up to Capitol Hill to meet with Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and came away contradicting him on his understanding of something she had said.
The L.A. Times and the New York Times both were quite successful in covering this fight, ending with Maura Reynolds' story on Page 1 in the LAT this morning reporting that resistance to the nomination was growing. This story clearly pointed to Miers' impending withdrawal, as did editorials in the last week in both of the great newspapers.
I do not share the view that President Bush should next, in order to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, appoint someone who will fully satisfy the Republican rightwingers and take an emphatic stand against Roe v. Wade.
This would only lead to a long, bitter confirmation fight, a Democratic filibuster, and, I believe, a few moderate Republican defections. I frankly do not believe there is a majority in the U.S. Senate to do away with Roe v. Wade, a basically humane 1973 court decision in accord with the majority of public opinion.
After the failure of the Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell nominations in the Nixon Administration, President Richard Nixon wisely appointed a man to the court, Harry Blackmun, who turned out to be a highly successful moderate. Blackmun authored Roe V. Wade. In July, the L.A. Times Book Review ran an outstanding review of a biography of Blackmun by New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Linda Greenhouse.
It would be wise of Bush to appoint another Blackmun and let the rightwingers defy him if they wanted. Otherwise, the President's political problems can only be compounded, not to mention darkening prospects for the Republicans in next year's Congressional elections.
The country is moving toward the center, and unless Bush and the Republicans move with it, they are going to take it in the ear in 2006 and 2008. Also, Bush cannot afford to appoint another crony with poor intellectual credentials to the bench. The nation is fed up with that kind of appointee. As I wrote in this blog Oct. 5, in opposing Miers as a "nonentity," "It's high time Bush not be permitted to name the second and third best to high positions."
So the conventional wisdom this morning, that Bush must now cater to the conservatives in his party who were leery of the Miers nomination is, in my view, wrong. If Bush moves in that direction, he will find himself in a cul de sac.