It's not clear to us what documents the White House and Miers are claiming they would not release to the Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, the White House sent clear indications to a number of Republican Senators that some policy documents prepared by Miers prior to her elevation to the Counsel to the President post would be released. Those were considered by Republicans to be far more important than her Counsel memos, because they would be dealt with policy development, and might have been more revealing on her overall philosophy.
The Spectacle Blog
If there are two heroes in the withdrawl of the Harriet Miers nomination, they are Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Sam Brownback.
Frist and his leadership staff did yeoman's work in keeping the Miers process fair, but tough. Frist and his staff were realistic with White House surrogates, who were pressing them to come out strongly for the nominee at a point where such an appearance might have helped the nomination. Frist and his folks did not. Yesterday, Frist met with President Bush at the White House, we should have more on that later today.
Word was if Miers were to withdraw, the cover would be the Senate's desire for access to executive documents from her tenure at the White House. President Bush cites that dispute in announcing her withdrawal:
It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel...
That barely passable as an explanation. That tug-o'-war hadn't come to a head yet. If it were, say, three weeks from now and the committee were holding up the nomination over the documents, then this explanation would have held water. Now, it's a thin cover.
Welcome to Political Chernobyl, comrades. We all here just glowing with good cheer. Well, all of us except those who are paying attention, such as Peggy Noonan. Her piece in today's WSJ (subscription required, I guess) strikes such a depressing note:
"It's beyond, "The president is overwhelmed." The presidency is overwhelmed. The whole government is. And people sense when an institution is overwhelmed. Citizens know. If we had a major terrorist event tomorrow half the country--more than half--would not trust the federal government to do what it has to do, would not trust it to tell the truth, would not trust it, period." Is it really that bad? Yes and no.
I won't claim this as my original thought, but I just can't remember where I saw it first: Nominate Douglas Ginsburg.
Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination, CNN reports. Stay tuned at AmSpec Blog for reactions throughout the day.
This should make Justice Scalia speech at the American Spectator Annual Dinner tonight all the more timely.