Be careful what you wish for ...

Thursday, October 27, 2005
... because Harriet Miers might just withdraw. I make no judgement about Miers per se; I've got no idea how I'd pick a nominee, nor any opinion about her legal skills. But observe the politics: within minutes, there were statements from the usual Democratic Party suspects to the effect that the President had given in to the extreme right wing --- statements against which it will be very difficult to argue. If the President's next nominee is anywhere to the right of Noam Chomsky, expect a "Borking" like nothing ever seen before. The "gang of 14" compromise may or may not come apart, but it's going to be very difficult for, say, Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to vote for the "nuclear option".

Since I don't have an informed opinion about Miers, I can't have an informed opinion about whether this was the best thing to do. All I can say is that these other consquences, now, follow as inexorably as billiard balls, click-click-click.

* * *

The word "karma" is widely misunderstood in the West. It doesn't mean "fate" or predestination in some theological sense; it means "action" and is best translated as "causation" or "cause and effect." One acts, and the consequences follow, not because of an outside force, but because that's the nature of things.

If those consequences are undesirable, well, that's just karma.

22 comments:

flenser said...

"..there were statements from the usual Democratic Party suspects to the effect that the President had given in to the extreme right wing --- statements against which it will be very difficult to argue. "

Why do you say this?

The Democrats say exactly the same things about all Republican judges. Heck, about all Republicans, period. They are all "extremists" in the eyes of the left. Why are you suddenly buying into their routine spin?

Who are the "extreme right wing" elements of the GOP? What "extreme" things do they want?

I'd be happy for the Democrats to stand up on the Senate floor and give a defense of affirmative action, or of the right of judges to overrule legislatures, or any other beliefs of theirs.

The fact of the matter is that that the "extreme" right wing views are actually held by the majority of the people in the country.

Seneca the Younger said...

Flenser, please read what i wrote, not what you want to think I said. I said "against which it will be difficult to argue." What argument can you propose? I'm saying that politically this establishes a situation in which any nominee, other than maybe Lawrence Tribe, will now be cast as "extreme right wing", and making the argument against it will be very difficult.

flenser said...

Seneca

Note that I quoted you, then asked a specific question based on your own words. So I'm not sure why you imagine that I am not addressing what you write.

The Democrats have being saying all these terrible things about Bush's nominees all along. They always say all Republicans are "extreme right wing" ideologues.

As for the notion that this argument suddenly has new force, I just dont see it. Can you explain?

At the end of the day, who cares what the Democrats think? They have worked hard to marginalize themselves over the last several years. Maybe people should stop worrying about what they think. Let them worry about what we think for a change.

mrp said...

flenser -

The Democrats say exactly the same things about all Republican judges. Heck, about all Republicans, period. They are all "extremists" in the eyes of the left. Why are you suddenly buying into their routine spin?

Yes, the Dems have always said those things about nominees selected by Republican presidents, but before the Harriet Miers sliming, they could be sloughed off as liberal rhetoric.

Now there's a Republican scalp hanging from the Radical conservative camp's tipi. There is a name and a face to which Democrats can now point as proof to the independents and Bush Democrats that Bush's hold on the the center has been crushed. Poor pro-life, pro-gun, evangelical Harriet Miers they will wistfully sigh in a deluge of 2006 senatorial campaign ads. "She just wasn't pro-life, pro-gun, and religious enough to satisfy the Radical Republicans who now control the US Senate ...". With near-unanimous backing from the MSM, just what kind of incentive will DeWine, Chaffee, Snowe, McCain, etc.. have to back anyone to the RIGHT of Miers?

How much more vulnerable to defeat will GOP incumbents and challengers be in 2006, especially in Dem-trending Pennsylvania and Maryland?

Now Harry Reid is off the Miers hook . Miers was a sure bet to split the Dems in the Senate, which would have likely paved the way to an increased Republican majority in the Senate. Now the Dems are united, the Gang of 14 is strengthened, and the Conservative Rads (who are nowhere near a majority of the electorate that voted for Bush) are just short of complete political derangement.


It's no skin off of National Review's or the Weekly Standard's noses, of course. Win or lose (the Senate), they'll be living large off the controversies. They'll be scribbling away, proclaiming the purity of their virtues.

Rick Ballard said...

Seneca,

I agree with you concerning the "gang of fourteen". The Seven Dwarves are going to split on any tough nomination because Dopey and Dopier (plus DeWine and maybe Warner) aren't going to be getting anything from the caucus but grief if they don't. It was an extraordinarily stupid (even for McCain) thing to do originally and very indicative of why he is a Demsm darling.

I wonder how many of the red meat candidates are going to withdraw from consideration after having made the same political calculation that you have?

flenser said...

mrp

This makes no sense.

"Bush's hold on the the center has been crushed. Poor pro-life, pro-gun, evangelical Harriet Miers they will wistfully sigh"

If being "pro-life, pro-gun, pro-evangelical" is now "centerist", then can you tell me what you imagine to be the "extreme right"? Because whoever is sent up next will hopefully be all of these things, and will be known to be so.

Miers was not "slimed". Her speechs and writings were examined and judged to be of poor quality, and indicative of somebody with a liberal outlook.


"Now the Dems are united, the Gang of 14 is strengthened, and the Conservative Rads (who are nowhere near a majority of the electorate that voted for Bush) are just short of complete political derangement."

Why not say that conservatives are united, the liberals are divided, and the Gang of 14 can no longer hide their positions, but need to actualy come out and vote on qualified judges? I'd love to see all these red state senators stand up and vote against a Jones or a Brown. That is the kind of thing which will lead to the GOP picking up senate seats in the next few election cycles.

I assure you, the "Conservative Rads" were indeed a majority of those who voted for Bush. The fact that the WH pulled this nomination shows that they understood this.

The Republican party is supposed to stand for something other than winning elections. Those who sacrifice their principles in pursuit of political power will wind up with neither principles nor power.

Rick Ballard said...

Flenser,

What is the principle involved in establishing a litmus test for Supreme Court justices? In what manner does it differ from liberal practice?

Putting "principle" colored lipstick on a political power play pig doesn't change the nature of the pig.

Seneca the Younger said...

Flenser, you quoted my words and avoided what I said. Twice. I'm not saying what I thought of Miers as a nominee; I'm saying that the consquences of this, politically, will be onerous.

Tell me how you will argue against the ads that, as mrp says, say "Harriet Miers: pro-gun, evangelical Christian, right wing nominee ... but not enough for the radical right wing extremists who control the Republican Party. And now, they've nominated [insert name here] ... who is. Protect [pick a hotbutton issue]: call your Sentaor and tell [him/her] not to risk the radical right wing taking control of the Supreme Court."

You say "I'd be happy for the Democrats to stand up on the Senate floor and give a defense of affirmative action, or of the right of judges to overrule legislatures, or any other beliefs of theirs."

But the point is they won't. They won't have to. They don't need to. The question isn't going to come up. Whether or not most Americans believe most things that the "radical right wing" believes, most Americans are pretty sure they're not "radical right wing" and don't trust the radical right wing.

flenser said...

Rick

So you are saying that there is no test for Supreme Court justices? That literaly anyone would be acceptable to you? You would be happy if Mario Coumo was currently being confirmed as out next justice? If not, then clearly you are imposing a litmus test.

Thats a weak strawman. Everyone has some sort of "litmus test". Mine is that judges should have a track record of not reading into the Constitution things which are not there, and reading out of it things which are there. Whats your test?

Incidentally, if you think that those who opposed Miers were not motivated by principle, what do you think motivated them? Are the CWA going to make money off their opposition to Miers? Supposedly the ACU was set to come out against her. What base motive would you assign to them?

Rick Ballard said...

Flenser,

I'm not assigning base motives to anyone. There are a number of good reasons to object to Miers - they just aren't closely tied to any identifiable principles of governance as far as I have seen. I certainly have no objection to your opposition or your rationale - only to the window dressing. I don't believe that past conduct is a lead pipe cinch guarantor of future conduct and I have greater suspicion concerning Roberts than I have of Miers. I do not admire facile minds nor do I believe Ms. Miers to be more of a chameleon than Roberts.

The votes are not in hand for a victorious fight for a strong conservative justice. The Seven Dwarves guarantee an uncertain outcome. Fighting for Bork and getting Kennedy is not interesting to me.

Seneca the Younger said...

Flenser, you're talking past all of us. Please, just for the moment, try to look at the point I'm making: that the political cost of a massive revolty against Miers will be onerous. I'm not saying whether I think it was based on principle; I'm saying the consequences of taking that stand, whatever the motivation, will be unpleasant.

We already know that you have this (in my opinion, silly, irrational, obsessive, and perverse) desire to repeal or reverse Marbury v. Madison, but the likelihood of finding any judge who would advocate or act on such a radical and complete inversion of 202 years of Supreme Curt jurisprudence is about the same as that of a flashpaper cat in Hell.

But I'm predicting the consquence of this will be that the next judge that gets confirmed will be even less to your liking than Miers would have been.

flenser said...

Rick

I don't disagree with you re Roberts. That is why people said "enough" when Miers came up. One "trust me" pick was allowable, two was one too many.

Everything that has come out about Miers indiates that she is pretty liberal. Dobson suggested today that he might have had to rescind his endorsement, and that may have been the tipping point. Geting Kennedy without fighting for Bork is even less desirable.

You may not win if you fight for what you believe, but you certain;y will not win if you don't.


Seneca

"try to look at the point I'm making: that the political cost of a massive revolty against Miers will be onerous."

I am looking at this point. I am asking you what basis you have for believing it. I have asked you a few times now, so rather than repeat your claim again, why don't you respond to the question?

I suppose your predictive ability will be tested in the coming month or so.

In the unlikely event that you can frame any arguments on the question of the relative roles of the courts and the other branchs of government, I encourage you to do so. Your cheap ad hominem don't impress me much.

mrp said...

flenser quotes me as typing -

"Bush's hold on the the center has been crushed. Poor pro-life, pro-gun, evangelical Harriet Miers they will wistfully sigh"

Thank you for deliberately misconstruing what I actually typed, which is:

There is a name and a face to which Democrats can now point as proof to the independents and Bush Democrats that Bush's hold on the the center has been crushed. Poor pro-life, pro-gun, evangelical Harriet Miers they will wistfully sigh in a deluge of 2006 senatorial campaign ads. "She just wasn't pro-life, pro-gun, and religious enough to satisfy the Radical Republicans who now control the US Senate ...".

Perhaps next time you will include an ellipsis. Even Maureen uses them.

Now restored to its original construction, I will explain my statement. A vital component of the electorate that supported President Bush in 2004 were secular, socially liberal, traditional Democrats that voted for Bush because of his strong national security policies. They essentially held their noses and pulled the GOP lever. I strongly doubt that the strength of their convictions will carry over to the 2006 congressional races, especially after the Dems and their MSM allies paint the now-fallen Harriet Miers as a mainstream conservative. If Harriet Miers wasn't good enough for the conservative Rads, and if W. couldn't put her through, the Dems will say, , the (evil) conservative Rads must be in charge.

That argument, such as it is, is much stronger today than it was 24 hours ago.

flenser typed:

Why not say that conservatives are united, the liberals are divided, and the Gang of 14 can no longer hide their positions, but need to actualy come out and vote on qualified judges? I'd love to see all these red state senators stand up and vote against a Jones or a Brown.

I didn't say that because:

1) As of this moment, W. has not yet named a replacement nominee. Who knows whom will be happy when that occurs.

2)With the withdrawl of the Miers nomination, the liberals are no longer divided. Senator Reid is off the hook.

3) With cloture requring 60 votes, there are any number of ways the Gang of 14 can rationalize opposition to a nominee strongly embraced by the conservative Radicals. Missing papers? Out of the mainstream? Won't answer questions? The president won't take X number of military bases in my state off the chopping block? Defeat of a president's nominee ALWAYS weakens the president's power to some degree.

Furthermore, it won't be the Red State senators that will feel the heat (mostly). It will be GOP incumbents and challengers in swing and blue states that will be most vulnerable. Senators like Santorum, Chaffee, Snowe, DeWine. Challengers like Steele in Maryland will now have a tougher row to hoe.

And Democratic senators in the Red States are now able to move more comfortably to the center.

As for the polling numbers, they've been consistently trending to a solid majority supporting the president's choice. In a recent GovExec.com article by James A. Barnes (of the National Journal):

The Gallup poll conducted for CNN and USA Today on October 13-16 found that 73 percent of Republicans want the Senate to confirm Miers, while only 16 percent want the Senate to reject her. Those figures are almost identical to the 73 percent to 12 percent GOP split in favor of the nomination of John Roberts in a CNN/USA Today poll conducted August 5-7, as he was being introduced to the country. http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1005/102505op.htm

So there.

Finally -

flenser:

The Republican party is supposed to stand for something other than winning elections. Those who sacrifice their principles in pursuit of political power will wind up with neither principles nor power.

Politicians who routinely violate their promises tend to lose elections. What principle or principles has Harriet Miers violated in the ten years she's been working with George W. Bush?

Seneca the Younger said...

I am looking at this point. I am asking you what basis you have for believing it. I have asked you a few times now, so rather than repeat your claim again, why don't you respond to the question?

See the third and fourth sentences of my original post. If you want expansion on it, see what Harry Reid, John Kerry, and David Durbin have already said today. Or consider it a prediction: let's review it when a new nominee is chosen and the confirmation process is rolling.

As to the question of my argument about judicial powers and why I think you are bing silly, irrational, and perverse, you've actually managed to ignore each of them in the past while insisting I make an argument, much as you skipped over my third and fourth sentence above. But, just for completeness, let's enumerate them again.

(1) The suggestion that the courts cannot, or should not be permitted to, overrule the legislature under our system is irrational. It is irrational because a consequence of that position would be that no clause in the Constitution could then have any constraining power over the legislative branch. Forbid the ownership of personal weapons? Against the Second Amendment, but if the Court can't overrule the Legislature, who could stop them? Nationalize the steel and coal industry? Who will stop it? Pass a law that says all Jews should be deported? Who can stop it?

Either you believe that the legislature should have absolute and untempered power except as constrained by violent overthrow of the State, or you must believe that the Constitution includes the power for the Courts to overrule the Legislature under some circumstances. (A similar argument could be made for the Executive, by the way, which is at heart why I think withholding documents under executive privilege is a good idea.)

(2) Desiring to reverse Marbury v Madison is perverse, because your stated issue is that the State has too much power; but without the internal constraints of the Court's enforcement of the Constitution, State power is absolute and uncontestable, except by armed force.

(3) Your arguments are silly because, in as much as they are both irrational and perverse, they're, what's the word, silly. They're also as unlikely to prevail as the guys who claim they don't have to pay taxes because the US has had no legal "money" since Silver Certificates were withdrawn.

Rick Ballard said...

"You may not win if you fight for what you believe, but you certainly will not win if you don't."

That's a good point. If this battle reveals McCain and Graham as weathervanes unworthy of trust, then it may have been worth it.

Boy, I sure hate these group blog echochambers where everybody agrees on everything.

terrye said...

flenser:

My guess is Harriet Miers is more conservative than I am. I don't believe half the propgaganda the right was putting out about her, and to be honest most people are not like Pat Buchanan. Some of the complaints about Miers were really out of the mainstream.

In fact most people do not want to see abortion criminalized. They do not mind some constraints such as parental notification but they have no desire to return the good ol days of back alley abortionists.

The only reason the conservatives thought they were powerful was because centrists like me voted for them.

That might change now.

National Security is what made me vote for Republicans...I have no desire to be ruled by the likes of Ann Coulter. If you think most Americans agree with the pundits like Will or even Peggy Noonan, you are mistaken.

And btw, the attacks on Miers were personal and mean and showed a side to certain people that was not at all pretty.

And you know what? No matter what the Democrats do to the next nominee, the right will be in no position to complain, not after the borking of Harriet Miers.

Knucklehead said...

Rick,

You gotta get the reverb thing going... wah wah wah wah wah...

If you have that, now you get this...

Crimson And Clover

(T. James/P. Lucia)

Ah, now I don't hardly know her
But I think I could love her
Crimson and clover

Ah when she comes walking over
Now I've been waitin' to show her
Crimson and clover over and over

Yeah, my, my such a sweet thing
I wanna do everything
What a beautiful feeling
Crimson and clover over and over

Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over

Seneca the Younger said...

I have no desire to be ruled by the likes of Ann Coulter.

I might sign up to be dominated by her, though.

Seneca the Younger said...

Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over


God will get you for that, Knuck.

Knucklehead said...

Seneca,

Is there a better audio cue for the notion of "echo chamber" available?

It was mean of me, wasn't it. I was recently surprised to learn that ol' thing has been covered by more, ummm..., modern performers. I would have thought the industry might just let certain sleeping dogs lie.

Anonymous said...

I think this is healthy. George Bush made the Miers appointment as though he could do any damn thing he wanted.

He has been schooled. Now he can get back to leadership.

Seneca the Younger said...

It was mean of me, wasn't it.

You just be careful. There are much more annoying earworms out there --- some of the Disney oeuvre for example.