Washington Prowler

The Miers Card

Conservatives and the White House chief of staff.

By 10.18.05

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Word has it that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card is unhappy with the reporting on the vetting process of SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers. The focus of his frustration would appear to be The American Spectator, the WSJ OnlineJournal.com's John Fund, as well as Time and CNN, which all reported the same thing: that Mr. Card was the "driving force" behind the nomination.

Conservatives inside the White House who have had a rocky relationship with Mr. Card -- but who say that Mr. Card has consistently served the President and his interests first and foremost, and has overall been receptive to conservatives and their causes -- have been ticked off enough about the vetting process to begin talking. In fact for several weeks, conservatives inside and outside the White House were complaining that they did not believe their views were being considered in the selection and vetting process for the O'Connor seat. Paul Weyrich has complained, Manuel Miranda has complained, and conservative staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee have complained.

In short, there has been a lot of complaining. But we here at The American Spectator have probably been as fair with the Miers's nomination as anyone. We're on record as saying the President deserves to make his nominations, that the elitism arguments are silly and unbecoming of a national party seeking to broaden its base, and that the debate should be focused on Miers judicial philosophy and qualifications. R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. has opined strongly that opposition to Miers has become unprincipled and could result in Democratic gains or judicial nomination anarchy.

The focus of Mr. Card's ire are comments reported here, made by White House staff who claimed that Mr. Card "shouted down" opposition to Miers in meetings prior to the nomination. Mr. Card has strongly disputed the story, and other White House sources have said they have never been in meetings with Card where he raised his voice. Our sources insist that there was little to no debate encouraged about the nomination and that the White House chief of staff was key to driving the process in that way. Again, Mr. Card has strongly disputed this.

There are always different takes on a story, particularly where politics and power are concerned, and perhaps this time it has created an unfair impression of Mr. Card, who has served this White House selflessly for more than five years in a job that usually chews up chiefs of staff on a bi-annual basis. Mr. Card was certainly not the only Presidential aide to recommend and support the nomination of Harriet Miers, though perhaps he was the highest ranking. Egos have been bruised, and a nomination that should have gone smoothly has not.

But at this stage of the nomination process, we feel honor-bound to step back and to examine whether we have helped or hindered the conservative cause and the core values that we have fought for over the years. We feel as though the overall discourse of the debate has not been particularly helpful in this regard. Ms. Miers deserves fair consideration. This White House deserves fair consideration. And that is what we will continue to provide.

You can also follow the Prowler on his rounds day and night at the new AmSpecBlog.

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