I’m not sure the breach is irreparable. Wlady, I’m just a pup by Washington standards, so could you compare the level of grassroots unrest to any other situation in your time here?
At least the grassroots groups aren’t yet in outright opposition to Harriet Miers. And the key word is yet. They’ve raised millions of dollars for this moment. They wanted to spend it. Now they’ll hold onto their money. But they’re also holding their fire. The only loudly critical figure I can find is Manuel Miranda, who has a prominent quote in today’s Post piece. It could be worse: they could be spending their money against the nomination. Groups like the Family Research Council and senators like Brownback are playing “wait and see,” but barring a crisis they’ll quietly nod and let Miers onto the Court.
Long term is the most problematic for the party and the conservative movement. This fact makes Peggy Noonan’s column a must-read:
The headline lately is that conservatives are stiffing the president. They’re in uproar over Ms. Meirs, in rebellion over spending, critical over cronyism. But the real story continues to be that the president feels so free to stiff conservatives. The White House is not full of stupid people. They knew conservatives would be disappointed that the president chose his lawyer for the high court. They knew conservatives would eventually awaken over spending. They knew someone would tag them on putting friends in high places. They knew conservatives would not like the big-government impulses revealed in the response to Hurricane Katrina. The headline is not that this White House endlessly bows to the right but that it is not at all afraid of the right. Why? This strikes me as the most interesting question.
Here are some maybes. Maybe the president has simply concluded he has no more elections to face and no longer needs his own troops to wage the ground war and contribute money.
This is precisely what’s at the root of the conservative uproar: the White House says, “We don’t need you,” and then sends out surrogates to smooth things over afterward. Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice…