Captain's Quarters Blog

« The Marriage Encounter Weekend | Main | Iraqis Appear To Approve Constitution -- With Some Sunni Support »

October 16, 2005
White House Wants A Do-Over On Miers

Time Magazine reports today that the White House recognizes that they have muffed the Harriet Miers nomination, and want a second chance to make a first impression. After having argued almost everything except a track record that would settle questions about why President Bush selected her over more obviously qualified candidates, the administration admits it screwed up and plans a new public argument for her confirmation:

Get ready for a whole new Harriet. After a disastrous two weeks, White House officials say they hope to relaunch the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court by moving from what they call a "biographical phase" to an "accomplishment phase." In other words, stop debating her religion and personality and start focusing on her rsum as a pioneering female lawyer of the Southwest. "We got a little wrapped around the axle," an exhausted White House official said. "As the focus becomes less on who she's not and more on who she is, that's a better place to be."

So, as the White House counsel begins her formal prep sessions this week for a confirmation hearing that's likely to start in early November, President Bush will hold a photo op with former chief justices of the Texas Supreme Court who will testify to Miers' qualifications and legal mind. The White House's 20-person "confirmation team" will line up news conferences, opinion pieces and letters to the editor by professors and former colleagues who can talk about Miers' experience dealing with such real-world issues as the Voting Rights Act when she was a Dallas city council member and Native American tribal sovereignty when she was chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission.

Well, I'm still open to any convincing argument from the White House. They might serve themselves better by simply allowing Hugh Hewitt and Beldar to run their campaign, because they have provided the only coherent defenses of the Miers nomination that I have read. The challenge for the White House will be to show why Miers presents such a remarkable and unique opportunity for George Bush to shore up conservative values and originalist philosophy on the court, especially given the choices open to the President with this selection.

That will still be a tough sell. If Miers has any sort of remarkable and unique contribution to conservative efforts, not too much evidence of it came forward in the first two weeks of the nomination. My prediction will be that the administration will talk more about some of the work she did for her clients, a list of big corporations such as Microsoft, defending them against predatory litigation and that type of work. Again, that would speak well of her as a litigator and an attorney, but conservatives will expect something more significant than just client work. After all, during the Roberts hearing, we heard over and over again -- for good reason -- that client work does not tell anyone about the judicial philosophy of the attorney in question.

At least the administration staff has realized that they flunked the first two weeks. Perhaps we'll see something we can support in the next two weeks.

UPDATE: I missed this earlier -- it appears that the new PR offensive will use high-profile administration officials, especially women. And who best to represent high-profile administration women than Condoleezza Rice?

Criticism of Harriet Miers as an unqualified crony of the president is unfounded, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday, praising the Supreme Court nominee for a "probing intellect" that will make her a great justice. ...

Rice said she has worked closely with Miers, the White House counsel and a former deputy chief of staff, on international legal issues such as a president's wartime powers.

"She's got a very probing mind and a probing intellect," Rice said on "Fox News Sunday."

"She is the kind of person who is if there have been four arguments given, Harriet's going to look for the fifth," said Rice, who was interviewed from London at the end of a diplomatic trip.

Referring to Miers' critics, Rice said, "I think that when they get to know her in the hearings, in the confirmation hearings, that they're going to see a woman of extraordinary talent, extraordinary integrity and somebody who would be an extraordinary Supreme Court justice."

Now this might well turn out more effective than anything else the White House has yet tried. Conservatives have tried wooing Rice for a run at the presidency in 2008, as she provides the one national conservative figure with enough of a following (at least for the moment) to take on Hillary Clinton. If Rice goes on the offense for Miers, it will take some of the steam out of the anti-Miers momentum.

At least it's a sign that the White House got a bit smarter over the weekend.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 16, 2005 6:03 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference White House Wants A Do-Over On Miers:

» The Awful Defense of Miers from The American Mind
John Fund brought up an incident of then White House staff secretary Harriet Miers complaining about the 2001 Presidential Christmas... [Read More]

Tracked on October 16, 2005 11:30 PM

» Harriet Miers - Take 2 from Quantum Catfish
So the White House has decided to pull the Harriet Miers nomination. [Read More]

Tracked on October 17, 2005 8:15 AM

» Jimmy Durante vs. Jack Welsh: Miers, Quayle, Jihadists from Jack Yoest
The fabled comedian Jimmy Durante once said, "I don't care if you're laughing with me or at me, as long as you're laughing. Conversely, Jack Welsh said, "Never be a victim." Who's right? Let's review three examples: Harriet Miers, Dan... [Read More]

Tracked on October 17, 2005 8:24 AM

» Where do we go from here? from Peace Like A River
As a skeptic, I don't know which testimony to accept, and which to discount. [Read More]

Tracked on October 17, 2005 3:24 PM

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!