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October 6, 2005
Does Bush Have The GOP Senate Caucus On Miers?

George Bush and the White House yesterday told their critics -- when they weren't calling them sexists and elitists -- that the only votes that matter now belong to the 100 Senators that have to confirm or reject the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Sounding confident in their standing among that constituency, the administraion then sent emissaries to soothe the waters with their followers, to disastrous results.

It also appears that they may find more of the same in the Senate, despite their sanguinity about Miers' confirmation. Key Republicans have gone on record claiming that Miers leaves them underwhelmed as a candidate. Some openly question the "trust me" approach of the White House:

"There are a lot more people - men, women and minorities - that are more qualified, in my opinion, by their experience than she is," Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, told MSNBC on Wednesday. "Right now, I'm not satisfied with what I know. I'm not comfortable with the nomination, so we'll just have to work through the process."

Senator George Allen, Republican of Virginia, considered a potential presidential candidate, said that "people who I have a great deal of admiration for" had said they were "disappointed or deflated" by the choice.

"I want to be assured that she is not going to be another Souter," Mr. Allen said, referring to Justice David H. Souter, a George H. W. Bush appointee who has upheld abortion rights and other liberal precedents. "I understand the president knows her well, but I don't."

George Allen has his sights on a presidential run in 2008 and has collected a fair amount of attention from movement conservatives. He may find himself forced into a position where he has to oppose Miers, which would open the door for Lott and others to do the same. Bush might wind up having to rely on Democrats to save Miers on the basis of being the friendliest candidate that they're likely to see. Even John Thune, who just got to keep his air force base, expressed his dismay with Miers' selection, although he issued a caveat against an intraparty war he sees coming.

Thune, of course, hits the nail on the head. It's a war we can't afford at this time, which is one of the reasons why I have decided not to oppose Miers' confirmation. However, if war comes to the GOP, we will all know who started it -- and how Bush let a historic opportunity to bolster conservative scholarship on the court slip through his fingers while doing so.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 6, 2005 7:03 AM

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