October 11th, 2005

Miers: Stick a Fork in Her, She’s Done

by Philip Baruth

One thing strikes me more than anything else about the Miers nomination, and the ensuing backlash from conservatives: George Bush’s conservative base has obviously been waiting and watching for a chance to blackjack him. By “conservative base,” I mean this — the movement conservative commentators, and the rank and file grumbling back in the home districts. These are people who have been appalled by the massive spending initiatives, backed by token spending cuts; the mounting deficits, and the fracturing armed forces; the fact that Bush has not used his veto power, not once in 5 very long years; the revealed incompetence, which reflects poorly on Republican governance at all levels; the clearly wrong-headed adventure in Iraq, even as North Korea has positioned itself as the Sam’s Club of WMD.

These, in short, are the people who will be handed the bill when Bush exits the restaurant just over three years from now.

Run a Google search of news stories in the last two weeks, and note how many times the word “joke” has been attached to the Miers nomination — then look at who’s doing the attaching. Bush wearing flight jacket and bunny slippersWith the fall of Social Security Privatization, the Katrina debacle, tanking poll numbers, and the civil war in Iraq, Bush has bypassed “lame duck” and moved to that very special political place where the strongmen in your own party start calling you the J-word.

So if you plan to run for President as a Republican, you need to show backbone fast, while there’s still time to go on record as having opposed policies that are clearly decimating America’s economic — and military — outlook. And so Harriet Miers nomination, unfortunately for her, marks not only the opening of the 2008 Republican primary, but the moment when Bush’s base has begun to demand accountability for nearly everything the Center-Left also finds wanting in his policies. If you’re a Republican congress looking at a bleak midterm election in 2006 — especially with mounting corruption problems of your own — Miers is a fine excuse to go indignantly on record repudiating a very unpopular president.

In short, Harriet Miers’ nomination is over.

The Bush team is even now coming to realize that their support in the Senate is illusory, an illusion driven entirely by the dependable Orin Hatch-lickspittle types. The only thing that remains is managing the process of her withdrawal. If you’re the Bush team, you don’t want to look as though you lost a tug-of-war to Democrats; but even worse would be looking as though movement conservatives schooled you. And Miers is the most maleable and dutiful sort of personal lawyer — she’ll leave quietly, or make a fuss, if that’s what Bush wants made.

So, a tiered series of predictions:

1) Miers will withdraw, rather than be voted down in committee, or lose on the Senate Floor. Timing here will depend on when the White House gets final word on the various votes. But no one will be seen to push her. She’ll fall on her own sword, such as it is. This in, oh, a month, month and a half.

2) The White House will direct blame not at Democrats — who have been standing around with their hands in their pockets — and not at movement Conservatives — who have been pulling saps out of their pockets and hitting Miers and Bush repeatedly, with malice — but at the Media.

3) As his second nominee, Bush will pick Alberto Gonzales in a fit of pique. And then the fun will really begin.

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  1. on October 26th, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    […] You may remember that I’m firmly on record predicting that Harriet Miers will withdraw prior to any losing vote being taken in Judiciary (See “Harriet Miers: Stick A Fork in Her, She’s Done”). Well, although the White House is trying desperately to appear bullish on the nomination, the wealthy gentlemen in the Senate are moving rapidly into the end game. Reports today suggest that conservatives are strongly telegraphing a rejection in committee unless Miers is withdrawn.https://vermontdailybriefing.com/?p=27 […]