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October 10, 2005
Harriet Not A Hit Inside The Beltway

The Bush White House may find itself in the unusual position of relying on the opposition party to pass one of its nominees, according to the Washington Times. Almost half of the Senate GOP caucus has refused to publicly endorse Harriet Miers' confirmation to the Supreme Court, expressing either reservations or skepticism over her qualifications. Meanwhile, Arlen Specter and Pat Leahy have criticized the critics, with the former casting the naysayers as a "lynch mob:

Nearly half of Senate Republicans say they remain unconvinced that Harriet Miers is worthy of being confirmed to the Supreme Court, according to a survey conducted by The Washington Times.

As with the nomination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the vast majority of senators say they will not announce their final decisions about the nomination until after Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, which are expected sometime next month.

What's troubling for President Bush, however, is that 27 Republican senators -- almost half of his party's members in the chamber -- have publicly expressed specific doubts about Miss Miers or said they must withhold any support whatsoever for her nomination until after the hearings.

The Times misses the point in this article, however, in deducing that this lack of GOP support puts Miers' confirmation in doubt. First, most of these Senators just want to show the base that they don't just accept nominees at face value. More importantly, they're keeping their options open. With such an unknown quantity as Miers, smart politicians won't commit to her without seeing her in action. Most of these will declare her testimony a rousing success once it's complete, regardless of her performance, hewing closely to the administration.

But even more, the Democrats may want to rescue Harriet Miers from the clutches of the Republican base. They're delighting in the civil war that has erupted in the conservative ranks since her nomination, but the majority of them should realize that Miers will be the best nominee they can expect from George Bush. She may be a cipher, but she has some history of flexibility on affirmative action during her political and legal career. Her lack of credentials also means that their normally apoplectic support base will not go crazy over her confirmation. Faced with replacements such as Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, and Edith Hollan Jones, they'll take Miers.

If 27 Republicans team up with 34 Democrats, not only will Miers win confirmation but also could stop any filibuster. Half of the Democrats voted for John Roberts, a choice with which they clearly were unhappy. This confirmation will only get stopped by a withdrawal or badly-botched testimony at the Judiciary Committee hearings -- both of which would severely damage the GOP and George Bush.

Addendum: Both Pat Leahy and Arlen Specter get quoted in the article, dismissing conservative criticism; Specter calls it a "lynch mob". Did Specter make that kind of observation about media criticism when the AP suggested that John Roberts was a racist because his parents bought a nice house in the 1960s that didn't have a covenant deed disallowing the sale of the property to minorities? Did Leahy defend Roberts when the Washington Post insinuated that Roberts was a racist because he once referred to the Civil War as "The War Between The States"?

I understand why Leahy delights in the opportunity to slam the GOP base; I'm not clear why Specter wants to join him, nor am I impressed with the entire administration's response to their conservative supporters. Dismissing us as a sexist, elitist lynch mob will wind up losing this administration one or both houses of Congress unless they shut their yaps really quickly.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 10, 2005 8:58 AM

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» Miers is Not a Conservative... from Aggressive Conservative
After writing an article in the Washington Post on the right-leaning blogosphere's reaction to Miers, Captain Ed has an update noting that while lack of GOP support could damage Miers, Democrats might drag her across the finish line because she's the... [Read More]

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Tracked on October 10, 2005 7:27 PM

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