The fear in the pit of the stomach was palatable; sweat oozed from the brow of every conservative with an Internet connection. On the afternoon of November 2, 2004, online reports of early exit polls posted indicated that John Kerry would likely be the next president of the United States.
In the second consecutive election-year frenzy — recall the panic in 2000 when TV reporters initially botched the Supreme Court’s ruling on Bush v. Gore — reports of George W. Bush’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Similar feelings of dread and despair seized the president’s supporters on Monday when news of his latest appointee to the high court surfaced. Reacting precisely the way the mainstream media dreams of, those on the right reacted viscerally when the name announced was not Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, or Michael Luttig, but little-known Harriet Miers.
Across the conservative spectrum early condemnations of Miss Miers rang out. Charges of betrayal thundered through cyberspace and accusations of capitulation filled TV screens everywhere. All this despite the fact that the man who nominated Miers is the same man who nominated John Bolton, John Ashcroft, and Donald Rumsfeld.
Though the president has picked a few Cabinet clunkers, he has a stellar conservative record when it comes to judicial appointments; nominating Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owens, William Pryor, Michael McConnell and yes, John Roberts, who was also initially pilloried by some on the right.
And it is no small detail that Miss Miers was in charge of selecting and vetting these fine judges and that she spearheaded the search for the seat for which she is now under consideration. This fact should not be overlooked by those who remember that Dick Cheney was also in charge of filling what turned out to be his own position.
There are cries of “cronyism” from both sides of the political aisle, implying that her relationship with President Bush somehow makes her less worthy a candidate. But conservatives should revel in this charge as liberals are constantly pointing out that he prefers surrounding himself with like-minded thinkers. Here’s hoping she is also a crony of, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Roberts, whom she is said to admire judicially.
To liberals, what’s scarier than any space alien is that Miss Miers is an E.C.; an Evangelical Christian. Worse, as president of the Texas Bar Association, she led the fight against the ABA’s adoption of a pro-abortion platform back in 1992. There are those who say she merely wanted political matters out of the legal purview, but isn’t that the conservative position?
Some conservatives are put off by the fact is that she donated money to Al Gore and Lloyd Bensten during the eighties. A lawyer looking to do business in Democratically controlled Texas during that period generally donated to both parties. The truth is many people supported conservative Democrats until the party took a decided turn to the left with the nomination of the Clinton Twins.
Many fear that her lack of a track record could lead to a Miers defection to the left. One of the reasons many give for the change of direction for supposed conservatives on the Court is that they become corrupted by the Beltway social circle, yet Miss Miers has been on the ground in D.C. for five years and is reported to be no more affected by the atmosphere than is her boss.
Although they were not “stealth” candidates such as Miss Miers has been painted, Justices Kennedy and O’Connor never hung as millstones around the neck of Ronald Reagan in conservative lore. No one knows or ever can know for certain how a justice will act once on the bench, but maybe we should be taking Miers her at her word when she said in her acceptance speech:
“It is the responsibility of every generation to be true to the founders’ vision of the proper role of the courts in our society. If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong, and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the Constitution. “
Despite predictions of doom and gloom — most melodious to liberal ears — those on the right should respect President Bush’s history of outstanding judicial appointments and cut the lady some slack. There will be plenty of opportunity for recrimination should either she or Roberts fail the president and their oath to uphold the Constitution.