Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Last Betrayal

From my standpoint, it's beside the point whether Harriet Miers turns out to be a great Supreme Court justice or not. I hope she will. Nothing would please me more.

What my outrage is about is the fact that we again have to wonder at all. That we have to accept the president's wink and his "trust me" again after he's burned far too many IOUs. Conservatives worked to give Republicans the White House, the House, and the Senate. The judiciary was a flashpoint, motivating issue in all of that. And the Bush Administration, with the selection of Harriet Miers, showed that what's most important to us isn't even a little important to them.

Conservatives--in fact the nation--deserved the opportunity to finally hash out the role of the courts, 18 years after the Robert Bork debacle. The time has never been better. People have awakened to the issue. The administration was given a gift several weeks ago when a federal court again declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. The time was ripe for a battle. And Bush sent up the white flag before a shot was fired.

I'm sick of conservatism being regarded as out-of-the-mainstream when it keeps winning election after election. I'm tired of conservatives tacitly agreeing to the notion that they have to hide or obscure their views. I'm tired of stupid, cant phrases like "compassionate conservatism" which imply that real conservatism isn't compassionate. I'm sick of the idea that solid, originalist constitutionalism has to be hidden under a plain brown wrapper while ACLU lawyers have an unimpeded path to the High Court.

By refusing to pick an open originalist conservative for either Supreme Court opening, this president has made clear that conservatism is something to be ashamed of, that it's certainly not worth fighting for, and that anyone who publicly admits to (or worse, takes pride in) merely reading the Constitution as it was read for nearly 200 years is now officially disqualified from being nominated to the Supreme Court. That's a disgrace.

The president nominated Harriet Miers for one reason and one reason only: he didn't want to fight that battle. He betrayed conservatives on the most important issue of our times--an issue more important, even, than Iraq and the war on terror. Even if Harriet Miers turns out to be more conservative than Scalia, it will not change the fact that Bush felt he had to nominate someone with no paper trail whose views were publicly obscure. It will not change the fact that he deemed true, bold conservatism to be not ready for prime time.

Over the last 24 hours, I've had a smoldering anger that's been actually growing in intensity. I keep thinking it will subside, but it just keeps getting worse. If any substantial numbers of conservatives feel the same way I do, President Bush just effectively ended the "Republican Revolution." Many are beginning to realize that the president frittered away the issue that was most important to them. Those are people who are not going to bust their tails in the next election cycle trying to get more of the same elected. If I'm right, the president has just decimated his base heading into the '06 elections. It's the beginning of the end of the hold on the White House and Congress. Which isn't all that bad, since this lock on power was never particularly conservative to begin with, as we now all know.

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