The Spectacle Blog

Harriet Miers as a Conservative Shibboleth

By on 10.4.05 | 7:03PM

While I'll be dealing with mostly foreign policy issues, felt like I should weigh in on the Harriet Miers nomination. Miers may be a conservative Republican But long before she was a Republican she was a Christian. That her faith may have steered her toward her political transformation shouldn't be overlooked or discounted. Why this matters underscores a continuing type of elitist tension that has long existed within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

From that perspective, Miers is the nominee that stands to satisfy a Bush constituency that has been under-represented in this Administration since the exit of Attorney General John Ashcroft, and certainly is under-represented on the high court. Jay Sekulow wasn't exaggerating when he rhetorically asked: "Do you know the last time there was an evangelical nominated to the Supreme Court? Back in the 1930s." While there isn't much to go on -- and admittedly that is a stumbling block for many conservatives -- it's clear that the President has enough faith that Miers will indeed bring diversity to the Court, but of the kind that should make the Right rejoice and the Left howl. The problem is, many conservative commentators either can't or don't want to see beyond the standard Beltway qualifiers for such a job.

Beltway types -- including folks here -- say Miers is a "complete mediocrity" (Ann Coulter), someone who lacks "the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left" (David Frum), and "less than sterling" (Rich Lowry). And those are the positive things they are saying. Of greater concern to conservatives should be what appears to be pure institutional elitism (i.e., that she didn't attend the "right" schools or doesn't belong to the "right" organizations).

For example, in an op-ed today, Rich Lowry mocked Miers' academic and public-service background, saying: "Watching Bush strain to pump up her accomplishments was cringe-making.... She was a leader with Child Care Dallas, Meals on Wheels and other charitable groups! She has a law degree! From Southern Methodist University!" To a Washington insider such a background appears middling. But to a raft of men and women who have consistently voted Republican, and who have an abiding faith in God, country and family, this is a background worthy of celebrating and respecting.

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