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John Wayne's Holster: Bush Calls the Play-Action Pass
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Friday, October 28, 2005

Bush Calls the Play-Action Pass



Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the SCOTUS.

In a letter submitted to President Bush, Miers stated the reason for her withdraw as a concern over the continuing efforts of the Senate to gain access to Executive Branch materials. Miers believes that turning over confidential documents regarding counsel she gave to President Bush would jeopardize the independence of the Executive branch.

Despite the impression that the White House is attempting to convey, the withdraw should come as no surprise. Political insiders have been predicting it for weeks!

Not much was publicly known about Miers in the days immediately following her nomination. Although some conservatives were disappointed, there was a prevailing sentiment developing among many to trust the President with his decision. However, as information about Miers began to trickle down to the public, it became apparent that she was not up to the task. Many who had initially supported Miers, including members of the President own party, began to openly express doubts about her qualifications.

The President, in an effort to reassure conservatives about Miers, stated that he “[knew] her heart.” Apparently, the President does not know Harriet Miers as well as he thinks.

Or does he?

Perhaps Bush nominated Miers knowing that she was not up to snuff, and would therefore be rejected by the Senate or withdraw. It is the political equivalent of the play-action pass. Bush takes the snap, turns to his left, and pitches to Miers. The defense pursues. Wait! It’s a fake. Bush still has the ball. He rolls to his right, fires deep down field…

Why would Bush do such a thing? There are three reasons that come to mind in which such a strategy would seem germane.

For starters, if the President were to nominate a Scalia-type conservative, there would be a battle on the Senate floor in which the “nuclear option” would be on the table. The President will need public support in order to make the nuclear option palatable. Recently, his job performance ratings have been low, hovering around 40%. As such, the political timing for the fight is not right. By nominating Miers, and then having her withdraw, the President buys some time!

Secondly, the President may have been trying to pit the Senate in a battle against their public image, in an attempt to lower the expected opposition to a conservative nominee. It worked for President Reagan! To avoid being viewed as obstructionist, the Democratically controlled Senate unanimously confirmed conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy following the rejection or withdraw of Reagan’s previous two nominees (Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg). Although opposition to Miers came from both sides of the aisle, the Bush strategy is already trying to focus the public's attention on the Left’s demand for access to confidential White House documents as the reason for Miers’ withdraw.

Lastly, the President may be creating a diversion. The timing of the Miers withdraw seems suspicious. Her confirmation hearings were not due to start until November 7th. Perhaps it is no small coincidence that the term of the grand jury in the CIA leak probe expires tomorrow. Why have Miers withdraw now? It can only mean that Friday will bring with it grand jury indictments – probably against “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove. Now some of that attention will be turned towards Miers and speculation on the next nominee.

It seems Miers may once again have served the President and the country with distinction and honor.

3 Comments:

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Roy said...

I think you might be giving the Pres. a little bit too much credit. I think that he really wanted her on the SCOTUS. It seems unlikely that he would put a close and loyal friend on an island to be ripped to shreds by conservative pundits. That being said, it would be an extremely good political move if it unfolded the way you laid it out.

 
At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Hi Roy

You make a pretty good point. Perhaps there is a bit of wishful thinking in my post. That being said, I find it hard to fathom that Bush would be so out of touch (although my friends on the left have been telling me so everyday).

I was never fond of the Miers nomination. But because so little was known about her, I was willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt. He claimed to know Miers' heart. He has also established a nice track record on his lower court appointments.

But since the nomination, info on Miers has begun coming forth. The more that came out, the more unqualified she appeared to be. There are also questions if she is as conservative as Bush claims.

After the rumbling that followed the Roberts nomination, Bush KNEW that conservatives were NOT going to settle for anything less than a Thomas- or Scalia-type candidate. As such, why would Bush nominate Miers? Surely, he must have known she was not up to par for the SCOTUS.

One can only hope that this was all part of a strategy by the White House. If it wasn't, then conservatives should be concerned about what the next three years are going to bring.

If you and others are right, and Bush really thought Miers was a good nominee, then there are few possibilites to explain his actions. He either doesn't know Miers as well as he claims, he is getting bad advice somewhere, or he is in fact out of touch.

 
At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Roy said...

Well at least he rebounded nicely with this Alito nomination. I think Bush really believed that people would trust him and would believe Miers would vote conservatively. I think he underestimated the conservative base. Hopefully this was a wake-up call and he becomes more in touch with his base.

 

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