An essential White House mistake--really a key and historic one--was in turning on its critics with such idiotic ferocity. "My way or the highway" is getting old. "Please listen to us and try to see it our way or we'll have to kill you," is getting old. Sending Laura Bush out to make her first mistake as first lady, agreeing with Matt Lauer that sexism is probably part of the reason for opposition to Ms. Miers, was embarrassingly inept and only served to dim some of the power of this extraordinary resource.Noonan does, however, give the administration a sane, sensible way out. They'd be well-advised to listen to her.
As for Ed Gillespie and his famous charge of sexism and elitism, I don't think serious conservatives believe Ed is up nights pondering whiffs and emanations of class tension and gender bias in modern America. It was the ignorant verbal lurch of a K Street behemoth who has perhaps forgotten that conservatives are not merely a bloc, a part of the base, a group that must be handled, but individuals who are and have been in it for serious reasons, for the long haul, and often at considerable sacrifice. They don't deserve to be patronized by people they've long strained to defend.
Meanwhile, the elitist sexists at Concerned Women for America have refused to endorse the Miers nomination. Jan LaRue (J.D., Trinity International University School of Law) writes:
We do not agree that conservative "activists" care only about how a judge will vote on issues but only conservative "intellectuals" care about the rationale and process by which a judge arrives at a decision. CWA opposes judicial activism whether it is liberal or conservative. No one should use the position of a judge to advance a personal policy preference. To do so disrespects the separation of powers mandated by the Constitution and the role of the judiciary.(Hat tip: Michael Spencer)
A qualified nominee for the Supreme Court must have more than intellectual ability and legal competence. It requires a deep knowledge of and experience in constitutional law. That must be coupled with the ability to stand one's ground as a stalwart and persuasive voice for interpretation of the Constitution faithful to its text and the Founders' intent. We believe the best evidence of that is a record of having done so.
White House representatives and other supporters of Miss Miers immediately announced that she is an evangelical Christian. There is continual emphasis on her faith and the advantage of having an evangelical Christian on the Supreme Court. We do not doubt Miss Miers' faith in Christ--we share it.
Like CWA, most of those emphasizing Miss Miers' faith have resisted any attempt to impose a religious test on any person seeking public office. The Constitution forbids it. We find it patronizing and hypocritical to focus on her faith in order to gain support for Miss Miers.
LaRue follows with a list of 17 unanswered questions that Hugh Hewitt ought to put down the Schlitz bottle and read.
And finally, did you see the other day that Miers, when asked her favorite Supreme Court justice in history, cited Warren Burger? That in and of itself ought to be grounds for scuttling her nomination. It's like Howard Dean citing Job as his favorite book of the New Testament. It has the more-than-faint whiff of somebody who doesn't know what they're talking about. It's doubtful that Warren Burger was even Mrs. Burger's favorite justice, let alone that of anyone who's ever taken even a passing interest in the Court. Burger (who, incidentally, voted in the majority on Roe v. Wade) was known as a dim bulb and a paper-pusher even by his friends.
For the first time, today I am finally convinced that this nomination is (deservedly) going down one way or the other.
The defenses have been unsatisfactory. The justifications have been risible. After ten days, the explanations are serving to increasingly inflame the base rather than soothe it. If President Bush is smart (a proposition called into question by the nomination itself), he'll get out in front of the process so he can get some credit for doing the right thing. But given the White House's dubious political instincts, I'm not holding my breath.