The Spectacle Blog

What Did James Dobson Know and Why Did He Know It?

By on 10.12.05 | 1:32PM

Is anyone other than me puzzled by the continuing revelations by Focus on the Family's James Dobson on the Miers nomination? And the White House's total silence on whether Dobson's claims are true? The transcript of Dobson's radio broadcast yesterday indicates pretty clearly Dobson's claim that he was told Miers was almost certain to be the nominee days before the President announced it:

"And what I was referring to is the fact that on Saturday, the day before the President made his decision, I knew that Harrier Miers was at the top of the short list of names under consideration. And as you know, that information hadn't been released yet, and everyone in Washington and many people around the country wanted to know about it and the fact that he had shared with me is not something I wanted to reveal."

Worse still, Dobson claims that Rove explained to him Miers's "judicial philosophy":

"…because Karl Rove had shared with me her judicial philosophy which was consistent with the promises that President Bush had made when he was campaigning. Now he told the voters last year that he would select people to be on the Court who would interpret the law rather than create it and judges who would not make social policy from the bench. Most of all, the President promised to appoint people who would uphold the Constitution and not use their powers to advance their own political agenda. Now, Mr. Rove assured me in that telephone conversation that Harriet Miers fit that description and that the President knew her well enough to say so with complete confidence."

But that's not an explanation of a "judicial philosophy." What else did Rove say, or is Dobson confusing judicial philosophy with religion? Is the point that her religion is her judicial philosophy?

Dobson said Rove assured him "that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life. In other words, there is a characterization of her that was given to me before the President had actually made this decision."

Does that mean they discussed Roe v. Wade? Dobson denies it:

"We did not discuss Roe v. Wade in any context or any other pending issue that will be considered by the Court. I did not ask that question. You know, to be honest, I would have loved to have known how Harriet Miers views Roe v. Wade. But even if Karl had known the answer to that and I'm certain that he didn't, because the President himself said he didn't know, Karl would not have told me that. That's the most incendiary information that's out there and it was never part of our discussion."

This whole episode is very disturbing on several levels. There are several questions that arise if Dobson's statements are true. First and foremost, they confirm indirectly that the president's statement that he hadn't sat down with Miers and discussed Roe v. Wade is, literally, true. But they also imply that someone -- possibly Rove -- did. Second, it shows that the information was not shared with the legal luminaries -- such as Ken Starr, C. Boyden Gray and others who could normally be expected to rally around a Bush nominee -- and instead were shared with Dobson. Why? Last, and not least, Dobson implies elsewhere in the transcript that Miers was the pick because other women who might have been more qualified had withdrawn their names from consideration because they feared a vicious confirmation fight they might not win. What passed between the White House and the McCain Gang of Fourteen that convinced the president he couldn't win a tough fight?

All these questions will be answered in the confirmation hearings. One prediction: if Dobson's statements prove true, the answers will damage Miers and the White House greatly. The president chose to avoid a fight by appointing a demonstrably weaker nominee than many others he could have picked. He will get the fight anyway, and if he wins, we may yet end up with another Souter. Stay tuned. This is gonna get real ugly.

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