HEWITT HOOKS UP WITH GRAY LADY FOR ONE LAST CURTAIN CALL
It's poetic justice that Hugh Hewitt take the low road and publish his last in a series of abusive assaults on Republican conservatives (i.e., those of us who first questioned and eventually opposed the Miers' nomination) in the long-standing house organ of the Left -- the New York Times.
Hewitt began his no holds barred mud wrestling tactics early on in the heated debate over Miers' credentials to serve on the SCOTUS by calling those who disagreed with him guilty of a "DailyKos-like refusal to confront arguments in favor of the nomination." He did little subsequently to raise the tone of the debate since in his mind the debate itself was inappropriate and sacrilegious. Indeed, if you questioned the wisdom of the president's selection of Miers, you were branded a "knucklehead" by Hewitt and chastised for a sin, in his stilted way of thinking, tantamount to betrayal of the president and the GOP. And just as Mr. Hewitt cannot restrain his overweening pugnacity in charging those of us fed up with porous borders as recklessly wanting "machine guns on the border," he went completely over the top in the Miers' brouhaha by labelling those of us on the Right not in his minority camp (i.e., the 14.5 percenters) as "Hillary Clinton supporters." It's been one broadside after another, and now this:
The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around. Given the overemphasis on admittedly ambiguous speeches Miers made more than a decade ago, conservative activists will find it difficult to take on liberals in their parallel efforts to destroy some future Robert Bork.
Once you got past the invective and distilled Hewitt's arguments down to their essence, they have centered all along on "trusting" the president to have made the best possible choice and to take heart in the fact that President Bush had selected an Evangelical Christian with whom he had worked closely over a number of years. How possibly, in Hugh Hewitt's miopic view, could the Conservative Movement go wrong with Harriet Miers on the SCOTUS bench?
Fact is, the president should not have nominated someone so close to him, so poorly vetted, and so violative of his oft-repeated campaign promise to nominate Supreme Court justices in the Scalia-Thomas mold. It is that campaign promise that many of us on the Right put reliance on in casting our votes for George W. Bush -- a reliance that made our reasoned questioning of his judgement in nominating cipher Harriet Miers altogether appropriate and in the best interests of the Republican Party and the nation. For many of us, the same SCOTUS candidate who "disappointed" in a series of private meetings with Senators would have most assuredly left the President's base unimpressed in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The controversy was having enervating effects on the President, his popularity, and whatever political capital he had in reserve for other of his second term agenda initiatives.
"Right wing extremists" did not provoke Harriet Miers into withdrawing. Right-thinking conservatives helped the president in rectifying a serious mistake in judgement that would have haunted him and the Republican Party for years to come. There are any number of qualified candidates in the Scalia-Thomas mold, a number of whom have previously been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The president should select from among them now, as he should have done before. In doing so, his base will coalesce and rally behind him and the nominee. If such a choice provokes a Red State v. Blue State fight in the U.S. Senate, bring it on. Rather that form of controversy, than the one that the Miers' selection wrought.
The loudest voices in the wake of the Miers' withdrawal have been the usual suspects: Ted Kennedy; Dianne Feinstein; Harry Reid; Nancy Pelosi; Barbara Boxer; Arlen Specter; and the New York Times editorial board. That tells me there's cause to rejoice.
The Houston Chronicle (registration required) -- not exactly a right-leaning metropolitan newspaper -- makes the following judgements in an editorial this morning:
The nomination of Harriet Miers to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court failed more because of mistakes by the nominator than because of flaws in the nominee.
At a time when President Bush's leadership is being sorely tested by the war in Iraq, high energy prices, poor management of disaster relief and chronic scandals, Bush counted on Republican senators to confirm whomever he nominated. His faith in their pliancy proved misplaced.
Because Miers has worked within the confines of the White House since coming to Washington, she is a cipher to those unacquainted with her career in Texas. A term on the Dallas City Council and service as Texas lottery commissioner are seldom seen on the résumé of a Supreme Court nominee.
Instead of emphasizing Miers' legal strengths, Bush tried to signal conservatives with allusions to Miers' heart and faith, as if these things govern how a judge interprets a statute. It didn't work. Only recently, the administration had argued that senators had no right to question chief justice nominee John Roberts' faith. To assert that Miers' evangelical faith was a qualification for office was a contradiction too outlandish to pass unnoticed.
The president misjudged. Republican Senators were not pliant.
Hugh Hewitt misjudged. The right-of-center blogosphere was not pliant.
FOLLOW-UP: Here is Captain Ed's take on Miers' withdrawal, the president's misjudgement, and Hugh Hewitt's scolding of the Right in the NYT. It's an important read, Folks.