Topic: Couldn't be so...
The Call It Stormy Monday - For Good Reason
Monday, October 3 - both Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan began at sundown, and it was "Labour Day" in Australia and in Germany the "Day of German Unity" (ironically enough). Gore Vidal turned 80, Chubby Checker turned 64, Tommy Lee turned 43, and Ashlee Simpson turned 21. Quite a day.
In the political world it was just more strangeness, of an almost subatomic kind. The four properties of the quark - one level below the proton, neutron and electron as you recall - are "up-ness, down-ness, strangeness and charm." Theoretical physicists call these "flavors." And it was that kind of day, with the emphasis on strangeness.
As for "down-ness," in Texas, the House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, who had been forced to resign after being indicted for some sort of criminal conspiracy by a grand jury there, was indicted by a new grand jury on a new charge of money laundering. And it was the first day this new grand jury met. Ah well, the new charge is essentially the same - conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through various front organizations. You can read about it here and here, but what's the point? A felony indictment is a felony indictment.
Yawn. A bad week for the Republicans stretches into a second bad week.
On the bright side (up-ness), for the Republican folks, it was the famous "first Monday in October" and the Supreme Court began its new session, with John Roberts assuming his seat at Chief Justice. He was sworn in and the legal arguments proceeded. Dahlia Lithwick, one of the clearest writers on such matters, said he did just fine, in The New Kid: John Roberts' First Day at School, as he announces oral argument in IBP Inc v. Alvarez and Tum v. Barber Foods Inc where the issue is a number of consolidated appeals about whether the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees (in this case in the meat-processing industry) be compensated for the time they spend doffing and donning protective clothing and walking to their workstations. Whatever. "So, how does Roberts look in the chief justice's chair? As though he were born to it, quite frankly." Poor guy.
Of course the big news was the other vacancy on the court, and Bush nominated Harriet, but not Harriet my cat. This would be White House counsel Harriet Miers, a sixty-year-old little-known Bush aide - Bush's personal lawyer when he was in Texas not the White House, once a city councilwoman, once head of the Texas state lottery, and back in 1968 the woman in charge of making sure all those charges about Bush ducking service in the Texas Air National Guard didn't get out of hand. She started at the White House as his secretary, screening his papers, and seems to have fallen upwards. She seems to have been a pretty good lawyer, but she was never a judge, so there's no "paper trail" where you can look at her decisions and see how she'd perform in the big game. She's never been in the game at all. This qualifies as "strangeness."
Harry Reid, leader of the senate Democrats, apparently recommended her to Bush. Reid says nice things about her. Heck, there are records of her contributing to Democratic politicians, like Al Gore. Oh my!
On the right, the "social conservatives" (ban abortions, get the gays off the streets, prepare for the return of Jesus), were ticked off. They felt betrayed. She has no anti-abortion record at all! Oops. She has no pro-life record at all!
Conservatives in general were ticked off. This was supposed to be the big deal - the swing seat on the court where Bush repaid them all for their support. Roberts was bad enough - all intellectual and almost overqualified and so very careful and thoughtful. They didn't want thoughtfulness. This time they wanted action.
They got a cipher.
Bush Nominates Harriet Miers to High Court (ABC News)
Critics question Miers' experience - (MSNBC - Brian Williams)
Conservatives decry nomination, saying Miers' views are unknown (San Jose Mercury News)
Opinions Spreading Like Wild On Miers (CBS News)
That last one is interesting, as it surveys a lot.
Everyone is citing super-neoconservative center-of-everything William Kristol saying this in the flagship Weekly Standard:
In the historically conservative National Review, founded by no less than William F. Buckley, former Bush speechwriter David Frum, the man who thought up the phrase "Axis of Evil," says this:
Even the "lock up any and all Muslims in America" Michelle Malkin is unhappy:
Yipes! There's more at the link.
Another collection here noting these conservatives:
Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters with this: "Not only does Harriet Miers not look like the best candidate for the job, she doesn't even look like the best female candidate for the job."
Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy with this: "As far as I can tell, she has no particular experience or expertise in any areas of law that the Supreme Court is likely to consider in the next twenty years; she has no history of having thought deeply about the role of judges in a constitutional democracy; and she is a complete unknown among the parts of the DC legal community that will now be considering her candidacy for the Supreme Court."
At the liberal Washington Monthly, Amy Sullivan says this: "It's possible that with a six-week bar review course, any of us would be more qualified than Harriet Miers to sit on the Supreme Court. Bush chose hackery."
Does no one like this pick?
Well, Hugh Hewitt says we just have to trust the president on this, and John Dickerson here sees some support:
Not if Pat Buchanan can help it. He's says he's a real conservative, not one of those neoconservative nut cases calling for war here and war there on the ideological theory of the week, nor is he a "rapture" Christian.
His take? Try this:
He says this appointment says a lot about Bush. He "capitulated to the diversity-mongers, used a critical Supreme Court seat to reward a crony, and revealed that he lacks the desire to engage the Senate in fierce combat to carry out his now-suspect commitment to remake the court in the image of Scalia and Thomas. In picking her, Bush ran from a fight."
He pretty much calls Bush a coward, and says the conservative movement "has been had - and not for the first time by a president by the name of Bush."
From Kevin Drum's collection at Political Animal, two of the many he cites, and these two are from the conservative National Review:
Oh man. This is not going well.
But note this:
Fawning works. "Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she's known." She doesn't get around much, does she? Well, I'm sure my cat Harriet feels the same way about me, but Harriet-the-Cat has a very small brain.
Well, Harriet-the-Supreme-Court-Nominee does have her moments. From the LAW.COM profile -
- She is immensely, perhaps irrationally, into birthdays: "She always remembers everybody's birthday, and has a present for them. She'll be finding a present for somebody in the middle of the night.... 'Can't it wait until next week?' 'No,' she'd say, 'It has to be done now.'"
- She has dated Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht "over the years."
- She's nit-picky micromanager who failed upwards at the White House: "She failed in Card's office for two reasons," the [former White House] official says. "First, because she can't make a decision, and second, because she can't delegate, she can't let anything go. And having failed for those two reasons, they move her to be the counsel for the president, which requires exactly those two talents."
- Not even the president can think of much interesting to say about her: In 1996, at an Anti-Defamation League Jurisprudence Award ceremony, Bush introduced Miers as a "pit bull in Size 6 shoes," a tag line that has persisted through the years, in part because colorful anecdotes or descriptions about Miers are notoriously difficult to find.
Yes, the DC gossip blog Wonkette is on the case: "We're not even that excited about the possibility of her being gay." But she is obsessive-compulsive, and dull.
Perhaps the Rove team will bring all these unhappy folks on the right back into line. Rove can be mean. You don't mess with him. But, so far, the natives are restless. And Rove has been busy with other matters.
Well, it's a strange world, only made stranger by this from Reuters, Monday, October 3 - "Irish rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono are among the bookmakers' tips to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, alongside more orthodox candidates like campaigners against nuclear arms or a peace broker for Indonesia."
Wait - file that under "charm." That covers all four flavors.