I’ve just returned from vacation. While I was gone, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers as Supreme Court Justice.
My vacation made it easy to wait for a reasoned justification of this surprise nomination. After several days, what I’ve heard in her defense can be summarized as; “Trust me.”, “Her opponents are sexist.”, and “She is a religious fundamentalist.”
These arguments are supposed to convince me that this nomination is the result of sober consideration??
Given that there are many other much more obviously qualified and quantified prospects, these “arguments” are as tendentious as they are insulting, and the spin has been as ham-handed as it has been embarrassingly pragmatic. Pragmatism is what I voted against last time. Personal loyalty is what Bill Clinton had to Mark Rich’s wife.
It’s has been downhill all the way. It isn’t even that Miers is a sub-optimal selection, though that seems obvious. What rankles is that we’re just supposed to swallow it, despite a rationale which it would be charitable to describe as “inane.”
Long ago I sent a copy of Barry Goldwater’s “Why not Victory” to the President in protest of, among other tentativeness, our initial military tactics in Fallujah. I think he needs another copy; along with a copy of “Conscience of a Conservative”, since he doesn’t seem to grasp the definition of either C-word.
In matters of foreign affairs, I have tended to accept a George Bush “trust me” as adequate. Despite imperfection in the conduct of the war on terror, I think the track record, and the vision, justify a large measure of benefit-of-the-doubt.
Primarily, however, there are no alternatives that I would trust. This is more a sad comment on the decadent state of party politics in this country than it is praise for the President.
And I am yet less sanguine on domestic issues. On the home front, I have been given many more reasons to distrust this President than I have been given reasons to do otherwise. Examples follow.
Periodically, I receive a solicitation from the Republican National Committee. Periodically (since 1999), I write the RNC explaining why I will not be sending any money. Since the solicitations continue, along with the policies to which I object, I know someone is not listening.
RNC solicitations formulaically include a phrase about “[not wanting] to believe [I’ve] abandoned the Republican Party.” The sentiment is understandable. However, I think the RNC has it backward. It is the party of Lincoln, Goldwater and Reagan that has abandoned me.
The RNC always tells me they know that Republican Party success “depends on grassroots supporters like me.” The mistake, based perhaps on my contribution to a local GOP candidate or two, is the arrogant assumption that I am interested in GOP success regardless of GOP actions.
The RNC always tells me the President is counting on me to “help him with the tough challenges ahead.” If true, he might well have displayed more ability to cope with the tough challenges of the past (Rhetorically accepting the sophistry that acting according to principle is a tough challenge.)
His leadership in the War has attracted my vote. I am happy he was able to get tax cuts. I applaud the administration’s position on the 2nd Amendment. I’m pretty sure I will prefer Chief Justice Roberts to Justice Ginsberg.
I have not any interest, however, in contributing, indirectly or otherwise, to those individuals responsible for restrictions on free trade in steel, softwood lumber or textiles.
I will not hold my nose and contribute to those who threw my tax dollars into the pork barrel of the 2002 Farm Bill, or the 2005 Energy and Highways Bills.
The quid was much too high for the quo on CAFTA
The new drug entitlement for Medicare recipients is an abomination.
The Farm Bill reversed a major Republican accomplishment, decades in the making, and the tariff impositions are the opposite of what this President had led us to expect are his principles. The Energy Bill gave us increased corporate welfare and the highway bill contained more “special projects” than Creation. Medicare spending was spiraling out of control even before the drug plan.
“For the children” has taken on a whole new meaning in terms of their indebtedness.
Republican or Democrat, the tax dollar feeding frenzy and special interest pandering is indistinguishable. Well, there is one difference – I expect it from Democrats, since it aligns with their Statist principles.
From Republicans it is, at least it used to be, simple hypocrisy. Which is worse, not sending money to Democrats since I know what they’ll do with it, or sending money to Republicans who act like Democrats?
I think I’ll just keep it; it’ll help me afford the increased price of steel, softwood lumber, clothing, sugar, soybeans and various other CAFTA pork. I’ll preserve it against my taxes for the Alaska “bridge to nowhere”, and the apparently unending funding required to rebuild New Orleans. It will help me continue to assist the NRA’s defense of the 1st amendment, necessary because the President depended on the vagaries of the Supreme Court rather than mustering the intestinal fortitude to veto Campaign Finance Reform.
While we’re on the subject of vetoes, can the President even spell the word? He signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, calling it “[among] the most farreaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” Odd praise, indeed, from a “conservative” president.
I was not impressed by the federalization of local control of education represented by “No Child Left Behind.” If the objective of school choice had been maintained, I might have been able to firmly grip my proboscis and hope for more federal divestiture in the future. The “Kennedy compromise,” should I say gutting, of the President’s education reform policy merely compounded YAAOP (yet another abandonment of principle).
Now we are asked to accept on spec, on the fact that Bush “knows her heart”, a Supreme Court nominee who is at best a cipher and at worst – YAAOP. This “personal trust” argument comes from a President who said of Vladimir Putin: “the more I get to know President Putin, the more I get to see his heart and soul, and the more I know we can work together in a positive way.”
So much for the President’s character judgment, but at least he didn’t nominate Putin for a federal judgeship based on similar qualifications.
Worse, Bush has been joined by his wife in the spin surrounding Harriet Miers. Laura Bush says that “it is possible” that opposition to Miers is motivated by sexism. Please, Laura, spare me the culture wars of the last generation. It isn’t because she’s a woman that her nomination is questionable, it’s because it is overwhelmingly obvious that she is not the best choice that could have been made. This insults women in general and Janice Rogers Brown in particular. YAAOP
Today, we see testimony where, in 1989, Miers named The Federalist Society as “politically charged”, but exempted the NAACP from that category. She mentions having joined the Progressive Voters League.
“Trust me”, says the President. Sorry Mr. President, on paper Souter looked better.
To be sure, my objections are not related to Harriet Miers qualifications. I have no idea what they are. Judging from White House promos such qualifications are at best non-existent. At worst they’re what the President and First Lady have told us they are.
This is not about Miers, it’s about one too many bitter disappointments. YAAOP
To close, I recognize that my opinion is not universal – Mark Steyn invokes the Presidential track record:
The president is a religio-cultural conservative who believes in big government and big spending and paternalistic federal intervention in areas where few conservatives have ever previously thought it wise. Not my bag, but, that said, every time I or anybody else have predicted he’s blown it, he manages to eke out another victory.
I highly respect Steyn, but I think “another victory” may be one, like Pyrrhus, that Bush cannot afford. I nearly sat on my hands in the 2000 election on suspicion of Bush’s big government tendencies. I voted for Bush in 2004 solely because of the war, even though I knew he’d lose my state.
What, again, is my motivation?