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October 27, 2005
Signs Of The End For The Miers Nomination?

Two overnight developments in the embattled Harriet Miers nomination point towards either the collapse of the effort to confirm Miers or a politically devastating siege mentality at the White House. First, the New York Sun reports that at least two GOP Senators will announce their opposition to Miers based on the speeches released earlier this week if the Bush administration refuses to withdraw her nomination. The Washington Times also reports that a key figure that had been working to support the PR campaign for Miers has suddenly quit to return to the Federalist Society, which Miers once disparaged and which has remained absolutely silent on her nomination.

Brian McGuire reports that the Miers speech to the Executive Women of Dallas has forced conservative Republicans in the Senate to consider her confirmation as an unnecessary gamble:

The two speeches, first reported late Tuesday by the Washington Post, angered conservative groups that had been maintaining a wait-and-see approach to the nomination. At least one such group, Concerned Women for America, announced yesterday that it had decided to call for a withdrawal. Others, including the American Conservative Union, were making preparations to do so. ...

"I think this will increase pressure on a withdrawal and lead to more pointed questions. I think with the documents that came out today and the speeches she gave will likely lead to at least a couple senators calling for a withdrawal. The things she said are just outrageous," said the staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This is the proof of all our deepest fears."

It even leaves Charles Schumer unimpressed (from the Wash. Times):

"But the $64,000 question remains: Who is Harriet Miers? In some ways, the more we hear, the less we know. Recently released speeches by Harriet Miers only further confuse and confound," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

"She spoke favorably of the importance of 'self-determination' in cases involving moral issues such as abortion and prayer, yet four years earlier, when running for Dallas City Council, she filled out a questionnaire from a pro-life group stating her support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion. And even more confusing, one year before that, she gave $1,000 to the Democratic National Committee," Mr. Schumer said.

McGuire also notes that the fact that Miers and the White House missed a deadline for the submission of her answers to the questionnaire do-over has the Judiciary Commitee rumbling again about her readiness for her hearings. The speeches, though, have hurt the most. Two important conservative groups -- the Concerned Women for America and the American Conservative Union -- have either proposed or are considering open opposition to the confirmation.

They won't get an argument from Leonard Leo, who went back to his VP slot at the Federalist Society rather than continue to provide liaison between the White House and conservatives. Charles Hurt and Ralph Hallow provide the details:

Leonard A. Leo, who had been on leave from the Federalist Society to be chief conduit between the White House and conservatives, said last night that he has returned to his full-time job as executive vice president of the conservative legal group.

The move, which surprised even Republicans working closely with Mr. Leo, came as the Concerned Women for America called for the nomination to be withdrawn in part because of reports of a 1993 speech in which Miss Miers appeared to agree with some of the grounds for the legal right to abortion.

This appears to have great significance in the Miers fight. Leo had been held as a standard around which movement conservatives could rally their trust and enthusiasm. That standard appears to have dissipated, leaving the White House with no political cover at all on their right. Thanks to their ham-fisted exploitation of Miers' evangelical faith, they have little cover on their left either. What they have is an increasingly hostile Judiciary Committee and almost no political base on this nominee with which to overcome it.

In short, the debacle has almost reached its nadir. All it will take to get there will be the public denunciation of the Miers nomination by just a handful of Republican Senators before the embarrassment becomes complete. Will that happen before the committee hearings? Perhaps, although if Miers and the White House can't get the new questionnaire completed and submitted soon, those hearings will probably get delayed -- the longer to drag out the damage.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 27, 2005 6:31 AM

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» Miers Asks President to Withdraw Nomination from Balanced News Blog
So finally, we are come to it, Harriet Miers has asked the President to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court. Courting danger and ridicule for weeks now, President Bush has steadfastly stood behind his nominee, despite the fact that she might ... [Read More]

Tracked on October 27, 2005 8:06 AM

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