A lot has been said about Harriet Miers, and for the moment at least, no more can be said which builds the picture effectively. She either is or is not qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, but she is the nominee, and that’s not going to change. If you know anything at all about Dubya, you know he sticks by his people, and from what I have learned about Harriet Miers, I do not expect her to quail in the face of idealogical rage, even from the very people who ordinarily would caution the nation to take their time and learn the facts before building gallows. So, it will come down to the Confirmation Hearings before the Senate, where, as fate and the writers of the Constitution would have it, the decision to approve or deny Harriet Miers will be made by the men and women whose elected office includes that duty. The sniping celebrities who deride Miers simply because they wanted someone else, will find themselves left on the sidelines, where in this case they belong.
The decision to approve a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court lies, as it always has, with the members of the Senate. Some take this responsibility seriously, some patently do not. Their voters will have to live with this, as this quality of person was in most cases apparent at the time of their election, and the self-adoration of American Senators is a well-known proclivity. And certainly everyone should know by now, the character and temperment of George W. Bush. Sixty-two million people made their statement in favor of Bush last November, and that vote they cannot withdraw now. Granted, the alternative of John “Hero” Kerry is enough to have driven quite a few to the Right side. But Dubs has not been anything but what he promised he would be, like it or not. So why are some Conservatives unhappy with him, albeit mainly the ones with large bank accounts and personalities to polish?
I’m 45, and so I have seen that same strange popularity quirk before with Presidents. The fact is, every President has a flaw in his policies and person somewhere, or rather I should say that he will fail to please everyone all the time, even in his own party. The myth of the monolithic GOP was always amusing to us on the Right, especially as more people from a variety of backgrounds shared the same party ID. The Democrats never seemed to grasp that Republicans were more than one or two points of view, even on some very important issues. We just happen to be, dare I say it, usually more mature in our discussions and debates than the Liberals/Democrats. Even in the midst of the Miers debate, most Republicans have been able to respect dissenting opinions, with the unfortunate exception of a few who take their right to criticize a decision, and have tried to coerce their own choice in place.
The President has a lot of power, but it comes with real limits. Some of those limits are Constitutional, but some are simply points of reality. In the case of the Miers nomination, that reality includes the fact that most Republicans in the Senate would not confirm to the President that they would stand for an all-out fight with the Democrats. So, submitting a Luttig or a Brown, assuming for the moment that they are as advertised, would risk an outright defeat in the Senate, killing momentum for a number of important initiatives, and hurting the chances for the next nominee as well. Further, strange as it may sound, the President has always shown a preference for the known over the unknown. He chose Cheney over many other VP candidates suggested (including, thank God, John McCain), and while that was controversial, it worked out fine in terms of actual job performance. He chose Rumsfeld for SecDef over many other expected possibilities, and this has also proven to be the smart choice. When Powell (who served in reasonable fashion in getting Democrats to vote for the Iraq War) stepped down, Dubya went with Condi Rice, whom he knew very well from her work as NSA. More than a few people complained at the time, but Rice has proven admirably competent. The assumption that Bush chose Harriet Miers simply because he knows her work and character, is an insult not only to Miers and Bush, but shows that some on the Right have bought into the 'Chimpy McHitler' caricature the Left has sold all these years; it’s simply foolhardy to ignore Bush’s record of picks. It’s simply laughable, to claim that President Bush made the choice without considering what was required for the job, without thinking in the long term, or that he refused to listen to anyone else. It wasn’t true in 2001, and it is still not true.
The problem in the party camps is this sense that “He owes us”. Ultimately, that seems to be the basis for some much of the griping, that Bush somehow made promises he is not keeping. The funny thing is, the Democrats said the same thing about Clinton, even when he was doing things the Right detested and the Left should have loved. Both Right and Left chewed George H.W. Bush, sometimes rightly but sometimes out of sheer political hatred. I remember in the late 1980s how many Conservatives complained Reagan was “selling out” in his second term. As the years went by, that view mellowed out on the Right but at the time, it was just as fashionable for a “good” Conservative to whine and moan about Reagan, as it is now to pick away at Bush.
At some point, the truth will sink in, and it won’t make the extremists and the big egos happy. President Bush will, short of going completely insane, never face serious opposition in the Congress. That isn’t to say he will get what he wants, even most of the time. I mean to say, that over the remaining three years of his term President Bush will either convince the leadership in Congress to go along with his proposals, or he will find Congress doing as it pleases while putting up the face of cooperation, as is a very common historical condition. Bush has nothing on the line in terms of his career; he’s going back to Crawford in 2009, so he couldn’t care less whether this guy or that approves of his decisions. As always, Dubya will meet the challenge as he sees fit, and we will receive the results as a party and nation. On the whole, the GOP and certainly the United States are well ahead of where they were in 2000, but that fact will only become apparent as time passes, and as eventually it will have to happen, another Democrat claims the White House. For now, it seems appropriate to observe the powers and limits of the Presidency, which are contained in the Constitution of the United States, and in within the limits of the Beltway around Washington D.C. The President is a man, in this case a dedicated and intelligent man, who often turns his opponents' own pride and arrogance against them, but just a man for all of that. Expecting him to solve all your problems is not realistic. And disrespecting him on the basis of a decision which value and consequence you have nothing but assumption, shows how thin the layer of consensus our party has built thus far, and so verifies the President’s own caution.