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October 9, 2005
Three-Part Disharmony

Earlier this week, the Washington Post asked me to write an analysis of the conservative reaction to the Harriet Miers nomination, after a recommendation from Michelle Malkin. It took up a bit of my evenings this week, one of the reasons my output may have seemed a bit slow, but CQ readers should appreciate the result. My essay appears in today's Outlook, titled "How Harriet Unleashed A Storm On The Right":

The president's surprise pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor has ignited a massive debate among his former loyalists, especially in the blogosphere, where I spend a fair amount of time. Wails of betrayal are clashing with assurances of the president's brilliant strategic thinking. Meanwhile, the heavyweights of punditry drop columns like artillery shells into what already may be a conservative civil war. ...

Bush himself ran on the promise that his election would guarantee Supreme Court nominations in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. But when he finally got an opening on the court -- whom did he pick? An unknown quantity named John Roberts. After an initial round of puzzlement over this selection, conservatives backed the nomination, even though Roberts never gave any solid indication of whether he agreed with the philosophy of judicial restraint.

It helped that we expected a second opening, which came all too quickly with Chief Justice William Rehnquist's death. But now Bush has presented us with even more of a cipher, one with no demonstrable constitutional scholarship or judicial record, and whose best qualification appears to be proximity to him.

The analysis has the conservatives breaking up into three factions -- the Loyalist Army, the Rebel Alliance, and the Trench-Dwelling Dogfaces. I'm hoping that a lighter touch will help cool down the tempers on all sides and provide Post readers with a taste of the conservative blogosphere when it debates its own. The folks at the Post allowed me to write in any style I wanted, and did a fine job of editing this down to a manageable length.

I will also participate in an hour-long webchat at the Post's site on Monday, 1 pm ET to discuss the article, the nomination, and the blogosphere. I hope to see a few friends as part of that webchat, and I'll update this with a link as soon as I get it. Hope everyone enjoys it!

UPDATE: Bruce Kesler says he's a Dogface, too.

UPDATE II and Bump: Big Lizards -- big-time Dogface, with several links to prove it:

What hurts a party -- indeed, weakens it -- is when it has a strong majority and it still loses a nomination fight. Bush and the GOP were all right during the filibuster wars, but that was because of the wide perception among Republican voters that the Democrats were using improper and unfair tactics, where 41 senators could stop 59 senators from confirming a judge. The GOP repeatedly made the point that if those nominations had actually gone to a vote, each of them would have been confirmed: "we're not losers," the Republicans were saying; "the Democrats are cheating!" In fact, not a single confirmation cloture vote during Bush's presidency has failed to get a majority; each confirmation was blocked by a minority, typically even less than the entire Democratic caucus.

Americans hate cheaters.

But if the anti-Miers camp succeeds in sparking a revolt among six or seven of the most conservative Republican senators, leading to the rejection of Miers despite a strong GOP majority in the Senate, this will put the mark of Cain on the GOP, the scarlet-L for LOSERS. And that, much more than grudging acceptance by the Senate, is what will depress turnout.

How does that work, depressing turnout? The core of the base will vote; they always do; that's part of the definition of "core." But that only accounts for 38% - 40% of the total vote. So where does the other 11% - 13% come from to get to (say) 51%, as Bush got in 2004? It comes from what I call "sunshine voters." These are not party stalwarts but cast their votes depending on how they feel that particular day. This is not the same as "independents," because most of the latter have more-or-less consistent leanings but are unwilling to declare themselves members of either major party. I'm talking about the folks who truly switch their votes from election to election.

If the GOP comes across as Losers, it will be the sunshine voters who vote Democratic, vote for a goofy third-party candidate, or just stay home. They supported Bush in 2004 because he seemed like a winner, in contrast to Kerry, who seemed like a whiner. Americans hate losers just as much as they hate cheaters.

Dafydd has much more on Miers at Big Lizards.

UPDATE III: Brant at SWLiP has a couple of questions for Miers' comfirmations, based on the song, "Yes, We Have No Bananas". (Okay, I was kidding about the song, but he wrote the second question just to torment me.)

UPDATE IV: Hugh has a long, thoughtful, and impressive response, which surprises no one. The only major point of disagreement I have with it is the idea that religion should play a role in selecting a nominee. If that is the case, then Hugh argues for a de facto religious test -- and it is somewhat hypocritical then to complain when others like Schumer use the same test in reverse.

UPDATE V: Michelle Malkin has a great roundup of reaction and further commentary on Miers. Mark Tapscott wants a fourth category.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 9, 2005 8:00 AM

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» More thoughts on the Harriet Miers kerfuffle from Small Town Veteran
After several updates my previous post on this subject is getting a little long. Guess it's time to start a new one closer to the top of the page. Juliette Ochieng has a well thought out post on the Miers [Read More]

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» Captain Ed in the Washington Post from Patterico's Pontifications
Congratulations to Ed Morrissey on his op-ed in the Washington Post this morning, titled How Harriet Unleashed a Storm on the Right. Ed classifies the Republicans discussing the Miers nomination into three groups. I am someone strongly leaning towar... [Read More]

Tracked on October 9, 2005 5:12 AM

» Blogstorm Hits WaPo from PoliBlog: Politics is the Master Science
Ed Morrisey of Captain’s Quarters breaks down the Harriet Miers’ reaction in a piece for WaPo: How Harriet Unleashed a Storm on the Right. He breaks down the camps into three: the Loyalist Army, the Rebel Alliance and the Trench-Dwellin... [Read More]

Tracked on October 9, 2005 8:37 AM

» Conservative Rebellion Or Civil War from CALIFORNIA YANKEE
Writing in the Washington Post, blogger extraordinaire Ed Morrissey declares: Well, he's finally done it. By nominating White House lawyer Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, George Bush has managed to accomplish what Al Gore, John Kerry, Tom Daschle and [Read More]

Tracked on October 9, 2005 9:47 AM

» Count Me A DogFaced Loyalist from The Strata-Sphere
Ed Morrissey has a great article out today in the Washington Post’s Outlook section. He sees the Miers nomination the way I do in many respects. The president’s surprise pick to replace Sandra Day O’Connor has ignited a massive d... [Read More]

Tracked on October 9, 2005 10:38 AM

» The Nub from PBS Watch
As an early member of the Rebel Alliance let me say that the Miers nomination is bad politics. ... If there is a genius in this mess, it is Harry Reid. [Read More]

Tracked on October 9, 2005 10:57 AM

» Are these dems or republicans? from Cao's Blog
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Tracked on October 9, 2005 11:22 AM

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Tracked on October 9, 2005 1:09 PM

» The Harriet Miers 'Loyalist Army' from All Things Beautiful
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Tracked on October 9, 2005 2:51 PM

» Miers is Not the Problem from Tapscott's Copy Desk
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Tracked on October 9, 2005 3:17 PM

» Hurricane Harriet from California Conservative
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Tracked on October 9, 2005 4:30 PM

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Ed Morrissey has a nice feature in today’s Washington Post A fun and troubling read. It’s fun because in his analysis, Ed has managed to break down the Miers Melee into three distinct groups, characterized as warriors: The Loyalist Army... [Read More]

Tracked on October 9, 2005 4:38 PM

» Loyalists, Rebels, Dogfaces -- and Cowboys from Big Lizards
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» Misunderestimating His Own Base from Watcher of Weasels
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Tracked on October 10, 2005 2:07 AM

» Bush Nominates Reagan to the Court! from Big Lizards
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» Harriet Miers: A Role Reversal from Dignan's 75 Year Plan
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Tracked on October 10, 2005 10:03 AM

» THE CURIOUS CASE OF HARRIET MIERS from The Heretik
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Tracked on October 10, 2005 10:20 AM

» Trench Dwelling Dog Faces from Everything I Know Is Wrong
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Tracked on October 10, 2005 11:47 AM

» Miers and the Decline of the Republican Party from Conservative Musings
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Tracked on October 11, 2005 4:47 AM

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Tracked on October 11, 2005 6:31 AM

» Welcome to Steel City Cowboy from Steel City Cowboy
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Tracked on October 19, 2005 11:24 AM

» Waiting for Anita from Big Lizards
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Tracked on October 26, 2005 7:10 PM



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