It appears that conservatives' long simmering distrust of moderate chief of staff Andrew Card has been confirmed with the nomination of Harriet Miers.
Sources inside the White House say Card in several meetings literally shouted down opposition to Miers during the vetting process. "Harriet was his pick all the way up 'til the President jumped on board wholeheartedly," says a White House staffer. "This was not a Rove pick or Laura Bush pick. It was Card's pick."
For several weeks prior to last Monday's announcement of Miers, conservatives involved inside the White House were telling outsiders that they felt "marginalized" or "ignored" during the vetting and selection process for the second Supreme Court pick. They complained that their candidates were not gaining any traction with those involved in leading the process. Without a clear picture of who was directing the process, the assumption was that Karl Rove as well as Miers and longtime judicial advisers such as C. Boyden Gray were providing input and riding herd over those with less reliable political instincts.
Now, it appears that another Bush has fallen prey to the seemingly bad advice of a Northeastern Republican who was more interested in seeing his candidate win than seeing the best person for the job put on the Supreme Court.
Card has had an uneasy relationship with conservatives in Washington. In the past, his attempts to reach out to conservatives have not gone over well. During private dinners with conservatives, he fails to speak their language or to connect with them, further distancing himself from the base of the party his boss needs.
The natural question will be to wonder, "Where was Rove?" But sources inside the White House say Rove was not distracted by other issues, or overloaded with work. Rather, he was simply one of several voices speaking to the President. In this case, perhaps, he wasn't the last to be heard.
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