Miers Nomination Handicapping

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Today's news brings another attack from Robert Bork which is essentially a fiery rehash of conservative dudgeon in the former Judge's characteristic to-the-point style. The gist: She is not one of the acolytes of the conservative judging fraternity. Fair enough. She is not. But to me, that is not fatal, nor should it be.

But there is another criticism today that I believe may have a more subtle effect on the nominee's chances. It is found in this sample from a quote from an email, received by Jonathan Adler at NRO's Bench Memos, describing her responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire this way:

[The answers to the] questionnaire suggests a broader problem and a breakdown in the controls that make the White House an amazing place to work and a typically
zero-defect environment. There are at least four issues w/the response. First,
it was late. Miers promised it to Specter in three days. They missed the
deadline and had to get more time. Then it contains a glaring misstatement of
facts that is easily checkable — the incorrect dates for when her bar membership
was suspended and the mischaracterization of how promptly the non-payment was
remedied (WPost story). Next it contains another possible misstatement — the
characterization of Miers as a Board member of Girls, Inc., in Dallas when the
National Girls, Inc., folks have no recollection of her service (LATimes
story). [After more illustrations he concludes:] All of this makes me ask the next question — what else did they miss?

The problem identified by Adler's correspondant is sloppiness, lack of attention to detail and generally questionable competance in a written presentation that is, to say the least, very important. When I read Roberts' written responses last month, I was impressed with his command of the English language, his attention to detail, and his persuasive presentation style. Miers' written response did not impress me at all. If Roberts' was 100, Miers is, perhaps, a 65 or at best 70. This does not bode well as a predictor for Miers performance before the Committee. Unless her performance there grades out at 80 percent of Roberts' performance, I do not think she will be confirmed. And I do not think she should be.

This has nothing to do with her educational background, her experience, or her stellar accomplishments in her law firm, in her trial practice, in her work on the Texas Lottery Commission or as a White House lawyer. It has to do with performance now. If improvement is not forthcoming, I am afraid if I were a Senator, my mind would change from a yes to a no.


David Thomson said...

“I do not think she will be confirmed”

Harriet Miers is not my first choice. President Bush has the best intentions---but I do question his judgment. Nonetheless, my guess is that Miers will prove to be a solid conservative on the U.S. Supreme Court. If nothing else, she is suppose to be strong advocate for presidential powers during war time. This issue is the most important. Everything else is secondary. My prediction: Miers will receive the support of all the Republican senators and 30-35 Democrats. Her nomination process should be relatively smooth sailing from here on end.

vnjagvet said...


I am hoping she will be confirmed. I have been arguing for her confirmation. But I have to say I was disappointed with her responses to the questionnaire. I hope the performance improves. Trial lawyers often rise to the occasion. Up until now, I was predicting she would. Now, I am not so sure. I hope you are right.

flenser said...


These problems strike me as things the WH should have caught. Presumably she is not required fill out this paperwork all alone. I'd have thought somebody would precheck her responces for careless errors before it reached the senate.

On the other hand I hear her performance in one on one interviews with senators has not been good.

To some unknown degree, she was "pre-approved" by many in the senate, so they may be reluctant to flunk her now.

terrye said...

I downloaded that questionnaire.

At least I think it was the one we are talking about and it was several pages long and had a lot of detail in it.

I am not saying NRO is misrepresenting anything but at this point there have been so many efforts to go after this nominee and the NRO has been leading the way...

I am just not sure what to think of this.

I wonder if they are being hyper critical and making an issue of something that might not have been an issue for someone else.

As far as Bork is concerned I have to admit I never liked the man. He seems bitter and billigerent to me.

But I would hate to say that I think Miers should not be confirmed. I would rather wait until after the hearings to make a final decision, but I think she will be strong conservative.

As for her performance one on one..I do not know. I had the impression she was well liked before. It is not as if they do not know who she is. In fact I am not even sure what that means. Is it like some job interview or something?

BTW, it is amazing to me that Ginsburg can be approved with 97 votes and a whole lot less whining from conservatives.

Not even the ACLU history made them vote against her.

David Thomson said...

“My prediction: Miers will receive the support of all the Republican senators and 30-35 Democrats.”

Correction: I meant to say 20-25 Democrats.

“Not even the ACLU history made them vote against her.”

The ACLU is among the most evil organizations in the United States. It even defends the dissemination of child pornography. And yet, the MSM pretends that the ACLU is “mainstream.”

vnjagvet said...


You are right about the staff work. But she should be the last word on quality control on something this important.

She could still be real good in the hearing:)

terrye said...


I am not talking about the msm. I am talking about Republicans.

They have been a lot uglier about Miers than they were Ginsberg.

Knucklehead said...

I believe this is the 57 page questionaire for those interested in seeing what one of these is like.