Voices from both sides of the political aisle have been raised in a resounding "Huh?" with the nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Bush has clearly demonstrated that the quality he is most interested in for his appointees is loyalty above all else. Miers, former Texas State Lottery Commissioner, is drawing fire from both sides for various reasons.
Much to the chagrin of liberals like myself, she definitely appears to be yet another Bush crony political appointment. Miers, who worked drafting White House legal strategy along with now-A.G. Alberto Gonzalez, seems likely to support Bush's stance on the expanded powers of the executive branch. As challenges to Bush's stance on "enemy combatants" and the refusal of the White House to obey the Supreme Court's ruling on the rights of U.S. detainees gain the attention of the Supreme Court, it makes sense that Bush would choose as a potential Justice on that court one of the lawyers that helped craft his office's policy on those controversial issues. Loyalty trumping experience or competency is certainly nothing new in the Bush Administration, and liberals are taking notice:
From Tennessee Guerilla Women:
Bush has picked an intensely loyal "pit bull" with "no experience" to serve on the Supreme Court. As Brownie taught us, the most important qualifications for high office in this administration are no experience and intense loyalty.
The social conservatives on the right certainly don't seem to have gotten the staunch ally they were hoping for either.
From The Evangelical Outpost:
Make no mistake, if Miers is appointed to the bench and refuses to overturn Roe we will have only ourselves to blame. If after spending a quarter of a century in the church, a Christian woman can uphold the most unjust ruling since Dred Scott, then we have failed as a church.
Bush is no conservative; he is a cronyist – a believer in the divine right to give all your friends cool jobs.
Given Miers' apparent stance on homosexual rights [via Aravosis], it would seem that Bush may have neatly cleaved his conservative base in twain.
However, I disagree with The Evangelical Outpost in that I'm sure Miers is a staunch conservative evangelical Christian, an ideologue of the same stripe as the President. I can say with near perfect confidence that there is not a true liberal alive that could work within the weak ethical framework of the Bush Administration. Clearly only a neo-conservative and Christian "true believer" would feel at home in such an environment.
What I think the social conservatives have failed to realize, and what may now become all too apparent to them, is that Bush never has had any intention of honestly working to implement their draconian social programs. Bush, and, more importantly, Karl Rove, understand that unresolved social issues like abortion and homosexual rights act as the most powerful "get-out-and-vote" lever for which any Republican political machine could ask. Roe vs. Wade will likely not be overturned by Roberts orMierss because the Republicans know they can use abortion as a whip to bring the social conservatives to the polls.
I also think Bush may have side-stepped a potential showdown with Democrats in the Senate with his nomination of Miers. Clearly, the Democrats were not going to block the nomination of Roberts; the confirmation hearings were nothing but panem et circenses for the masses. The conventional wisdom on the Hill was that Democrats were keeping their powder dry for a ferocious battle over O'Connor's replacement. Given Miers lack of experience and questionable social leanings, Bush may have taken the fight away from the Democrats before the opening salvos were even fired. In light of the Republican penchant for voting in lockstep, the Democrats are left to ponder a filibuster of a nominee that may not be the great conservative threat they were expecting.
The bottom line is that Bush did as Bush does most often: rewarded loyalty, potentially at the expense of competency. The CEO President, indeed!