A Boondoggle


I listened in on the RNC conference call with bloggers. It is great that they have started these. Today’s was a disappointment. Apparently, the strategy is to say “Harriet Miers has a conservative judicial philosophy and the character to avoid changing over time” repeatedly. That there are no documents to back that up, at least not yet, is beside the point. I really, really want to believe that we have not been Soutered, but so far we’ve been given nothing very substantive from the White House. It is also my understanding that Ms. Miers’ law firm has not given the White House much of a paper trail to use in Miers’ defense.

For those of us who are not comforted by the spin, there is new spin in the rumor mill. It’s what we’ve all heard — Miers got the job because no other conservative female jurist wanted a life time appointment to the United States Supreme Court. This newest strategy is perhaps the most troubling act of a spin machine that, for some reason, after a stunning November victory has somehow managed to mangle its message horribly and divide its base better than a Democrat could ever have done.

Those of us who have been covering this story and beating the bushes have heard the rumors. I actually believe part of them. There were several people who were supposedly heavily vetted — Owen, Batchelder, and Williams. They were also supposedly looking at Corrigan. The rumor is, though denied, that Owen withdrew. The other rumor is that someone else withdrew immediately before Miers. The latest rumor is that the person in question was Williams. That is denied by those close to Williams.

No matter how you look at this, it is a colossal mistake. On one hand we are suppose to believe that Harriet Miers took the job because none of these other women wanted to go through the Democrat gauntlet. If that is so, what does it say about them? What does it say about the White House failing to inspire confidence in these nominees that they backed out?

On the other hand, what if that is not the case? What if these names are being floated to make us think Miers is a team player and they are not? Are we really to believe that these women are of lesser character or lesser spine than Miers? And if that isn’t why the names are out there, then why are they floating around? If we accept that these women backed out, we must conclude that either they were not up to it, they were not qualified, or the Republicans gave them no confidence of standing behind them. If we do not accept that these women backed out, it is even more farcical — farcical because we are expected to believe something that did not happen in order to make a case for Miers the administration has otherwise failed to make.

I’ve heard the rumors from enough people to make me really think that someone dropped out at the last minute. I do not know who. What I do know is that names are floating out there — Williams, Batchelder, Corrigan, and Owen. Names that are not floating out there are Luttig, Alito, Jones, McConnell, Garza, Brown, and Pryor. Personally, I would treat the latter group of names, plus Batchelder, in an all-star league. If the rumors are to be believed and if the rumors are an effort to bolster Miers, can we then also conclude that either the White House rejected or never considered the all-stars, just the minor league players? If Brit Hume is to be believed, the White House tossed Batchelder for her perceived “judicial activism.” What of Luttig, Brown, Pryor, Alito, McConnell, Jones, and Garza?

I do not really know who is behind the floating of all the names. White House sources and others have been mentioning these names. Outside groups have too. It could be a case of everyone talking in a circle. Where they got them is anybody’s guess. But, no one has yet tried to dampen the talk and speculation. In fact, the latest comments from James Dobson and Scott McClellan only add to the speculation.

On a final point, the Mehlman call did have one interesting tidbit that tickled my legal ears. In the beginning, Mehlman said we could learn about Miers from what she had done in the White House, including her participation in forming amicus briefs for the administration. Stephen Bainbridge asked the last question of the call and it was about Miers’ role in the Michigan affirmative action case. Reports indicate Miers favored the affirmative action position. Mehlman said the White House advocated helping the disadvantaged in the amicus brief, but then refused to go into a discussion of private White House discussions of court cases. He repeated that Miers has the judicial philosophy and character to be a stellar nominee.

About the author

Erick Erickson


  • I would submit to you that Bush is doing exactly what you are saying “getting behind a woman candidate.” Additionally, you said not supporting women is “going to be the downfall of the Republican Party.” Perhaps Bush shares your opinion, which is why he felt it important to draw a lot of attention to his decision.

    I think we kinda agree about this.

    Neither party stands for anything except politics. Jesus would abstain from voting and support neither side in my opinion.

  • No, I will not vote Democrat because of how the Republicans are downing Ms. Miers because I will never see a reason to make that mistake. But I have three sisters who are very smart women, and two of them live in the Northeast. We were all raised conservative in a Baptist Church, but I cannot convince them to vote Republican. My sisters detest the Republican Party, and they are very representative of many of the women in the United States.

    The Republican Party is still the party of male elitist, and the only reason that I put up with it is because the Democrats do not stand for anything. The Republican women are supposed to bake the cookies and host fund raising events in Georgia, but you do not see the men getting behind a woman candidate. This is going to be the downfall of the Republican Party.

  • You said “This is a very ridiculous waste of words” re: my last post.” Think about it.

    2004 election 48% to 51%. Bush wins.

    The 2000 election was so close it came down to re-counts in Florida. Bush wins.

    What better way to seal the next election, but to take some voters that historically vote Democrat and turn them Republican? Right? That could do it, don’t ya think?

    I know that the Democrats carry women and minorities historically, and so does the Bush team. That’s why their vote is important to the Republican party. The more women and minorties that vote Republican – or the more women and minority that swing over the Conservative vote rather than voting Democrat – the better the chances of putting in another Republican president. It’s simple math.

    More blacks voted for Bush last election than in the 2000 election. So, Bush is getting somewhere with the minority vote.

    You said “Actually, I think all of the bickering about Harriet Miers would do more to turn off women voters to the Republican Party. It only makes young women undecided about party affiliation to turn to the Democrats because they are the ones that are being more fair and balanced about Ms. Miers.”

    I posed a question at the end of my post “will Bush’s ploy backfire?” I don’t know the answer to that. It seems te me that it’s turning you off because Republicans are opposed to Bush’s choice. But, come on, are you really going to go vote for Democrats b/c of it?

    The Bush team is not stupid, they knew what they were doing when they placed a very controversial candidate as a nominee for the Supreme Court.

    The Bush team knew that if they nominated a lady who’s never been a judge, never clerked for a judge, never wrote a judicial opinion, and who didn’t come from one a top ten law school, they would cause lot’s of controversy. I could have predicted major controversy in that decision and I am a political kindergartner compared to the combined legal and political minds that advise George Bush.

    So I am convinced, there was a secondary reason for doing so. That’s what my last post explains. Will it work? We’ll see.

    Is she going to be a good Judge? My opinion, she’s in too deep with the Bush’s to go off and become best friends with Souter.

  • If the Republican party did not have their black, women and minority support in 2004, they would have lost the election. It was a very very close election.

    This is a very ridiculous waste of words. Number one, President Bush got the most popular votes of any President in history. If the Democrats had not carried women that are pro-choice and minorities for the last 40 years, they would have been dead years ago. President Clinton is supposedly the first “black President,”and the first time he ran only garnered 43% of the popular vote, which is quite lower than the 51% that President George W. Bush received.

    Actually, I think all of the bickering about Harriet Miers would do more to turn off women voters to the Republican Party. It only makes young women undecided about party affiliation to turn to the Democrats because they are the ones that are being more fair and balanced about Ms. Miers.

    If President Bush nominated Ms. Miers to the Supreme Court, then I accept his choice and so should the rest of the Republicans that supported him in 2004.

  • My first question is: why a female, put another male in if you can’t find a female…what’s the big deal? Particularly if you can’t find a female who fits the bill?

    You wrote in a previous comment about Miers’ propensity towards favoring affirmative action. So, that we knew already. However, the comment about how the White House advocates for the disadvantaged was interesting to me.

    Consider this: Bush has been harping on how he helps minorities get homes and helps start minority businesses. He’s now visited New Orleans 8 times, has even taken responsibility (which has NEVER been something Bush has done). He’s visited New Orleans more times than New York after 911. Bush puts a female on the Supreme Court – (and for some reason according to you actually forced himself to ensure a female was nominated). This is all very strange behavior coming from this White House.

    Perhaps the Bush team feels there is more political capital in keeping the swing voters (ie. women and minorities) happy and/or getting their attention. We’ve had two very very close elections. If the Republicans fail to appeal to women and minorities and/or swing voters, they could lose the next presidential election.

    Remember that black rapper who said…”Bush doesn’t care about black people” after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans? Since then President Bush has been to New Orleans more than he visited New York after 911. If the Republican party did not have their black, women and minority support in 2004, they would have lost the election. It was a very very close election.

    So sure, you make the Erick Erickson’s of the world mad in nominating an unknown woman, but is Mr. Erickson really going to not vote Republican in 2008 due to Harriet Miers? Short of Saddam Hussein being the Republican candidate, I am pretty sure I can guess who you’re putting on the ballet next election. Are the pro-lifers and/or religious folk really not going to vote Repubican over a Supreme Court nomination? I am confident, but less sure that I know who these people are voting for next election.

    The point is: the Bush team historically has made some really good calls. They are like good trial lawyers: they make some decisions during trial that some attorneys don’t understand and/or don’t like, but when the jury verdict comes back in their favor everyone all of the sudden says “wow what a great strategist.”

    I think this is what is going on. The Bush team is trying to create political capital with the voters who they think will be swing voters next election. They are doing this by their New Orleans public appearances, by comments on helping minorities, and by the Harriet Miers nomination.

    Women are important to elections. Cleverly, Bush has nominated a woman that is bringing even greater controversy and media coverage to his decision to nominate a woman. He’s certainly reaching voters! He says stuff like, “I trust her” and “I know her heart.” Do you really think the Bush team didn’t anticipate that putting a woman on the Supreme Court with no judicial experience would NOT cause controversy?

    So, Bush looks like a real great guy, supporting his family lawyer, she’s got a good heart, he trusts her, she’s a good woman. I’m sure it will continue on and on.

    The real question is whether this ploy will back fire?

By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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