Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Harriet Miers O'Connor?

While the Bush Administration continues to pursue the mystifying course of attacking the motives of the very base of conservatives that put them in the White House, thoughtful analysis from real conservatives (including those who have worked for this very president) continues to roll in.

Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online offers an analysis that ought to chill the blood of every conservative. He's talking about a feminist lecture series Miers has enthusiastically participated in. If he's right, Harriet Miers is a feminist who will at best be another Sandra Day O'Connor:
That [lecture] series is named after Louise Raggio, a prominent feminist lawyer from Dallas. Raggio and her fellow Texas feminists supported Miers in her bid to become head of the Texas Bar Association. They knew that Miers was anti-abortion, yet also knew that Miers was sympathetic to liberal feminism in other respects. In the very conservative Texas Bar Association, Miers was the most like-minded female president the feminists could get.

...The most telling thing about Miers is that she sees membership in the Federalist Society as excessively “political,” yet doesn’t think twice about associating herself with a lecture series that invites the likes of Gloria Steinem, Pat Schroeder, and Susan Faludi. That’s because Miers’ political career is based on being the one member of the conservative Texas establishment that liberal feminists can best work with. Miers has spent a lifetime being the sort of conservative who tries to swim within the “mainstream.” Miers would rather make a partnership with the far left, than risk being called an outsider on the right. Her almost obsessive silence about her political views probably derives in part from the fact that her own support base comprehends everyone from pro-life evangelical conservatives to Susan Faludi-like feminists.

...Whatever her personal views, Miers doesn’t feel comfortable openly positioning herself to the right of what liberals call the “mainstream” on social issues. My sense is that this makes Miers into something of a Sandra Day O’Connor figure–someone who could go either way on the big social issues. On the one hand, Miers’s personal instincts are conservative. On the other hand, she is used to working in coalition with, making concessions to, and often sympathizing with, feminist liberals. (David Frum's excerpts from Miers's writings broadly support this point.)
Meanwhile, Ned Ryun, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, tells of Miers' involvement in killing a Christmas speech he had written for the president because it was too Christ-y:
In 2001, I was given the task of writing the President’s Christmas message to the nation. After researching Reagan, Bush, and Clinton’s previous Christmas messages, I wrote something that was well within the bounds of what had been previously written (and in case you are wondering, Clinton’s messages were far more evangelical than the elder Bush’s).

The director of correspondence and the deputy of correspondence edited and approved the message and it was sent to the Staff Secretary’s office for the final vetting. Miers emailed me and told me that the message might offend people of other faiths, i.e., that the message was too Christian. She wanted me to change it. I refused to change the message (In my poor benighted reasoning, I actually think that Christmas is an overtly Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ and the beginning of the redemption of man.).

The director and deputy of correspondence supported me. I even emailed Ken Mehlman (then the Political Director at the White House, now the Republican National Committee Chairman), to see what he thought about the message. He was not offended by it in the least. Miers insisted that I change the tone of the message. I again refused, and after several weeks, the assignment was taken out of my hands. I was later encouraged to apologize to Miers. I did not apologize.

That is my one personal anecdote about Harriet Miers. Some will probably write that incident off as an insignificant, almost meaningless, occurrence. And perhaps it is. But Miers purposefully sought to dilute the Christianity of the message, thus revealing to me at least a willingness to compromise unnecessarily without outside pressure. That is my opinion based off that experience and I would be more than happy to be proved wrong.
(Hat tip: Amy Ridenour.)

And did you notice Antonin Scalia's veiled shot at the nomination over the weekend? According to CNN.com:
Questioned about Harriet Miers, Bush's nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Scalia said he had never met her.

"Never having met her, I have no impression of her," he said.
Of course, as expected from Scalia, this is precisely the right response. Since personal, firsthand knowledge is the only justification or defense President Bush has given for this nomination (because she has no legal writings to commend her), everyone who has not personally met her has no real basis for supporting her nomination. The president banked on a criterion for approval that can only be met by a few hundred people.

Meanwhile, Hugh Hewitt continues guzzling the Dom Perignon.

No comments: