suzyrice.com Rotating Header Image

THE SUPREME COURT GUMP

RedSquareSmallDark.gif Harriet Miers’ is known to be hard-working. Highly specific where details are concerned. Exceptionally attentive to details to the extent that she has problems delegating decisions and tasks and devotes whatever time is necessary because of that to complete tasks herself after she’s first understood all she can about issues involved with the tasks.

These are not the qualities of a reckless, error-prone individual. It’s as yet not revealed whether these careful characteristics, however, accompany an exceptional mind as to legal reasoning and understanding. But, to satisfy some who wonder or even worry about her character and values, Miers is an evangelical Protestant Christian (a Baptist, I read) and as a loyal individual committed to civic contributions through and to her religious faith practice, she’s known to be humble, service oriented and not at all vain. Plain, even, if her appearance can be considered here, plain as in, it’s a good thing.

I didn’t have a personal recoil to the Harriet Miers nomination as some conservatives did and found the crushing onset of criticism about her startling. I wasn’t prepared for it, given that there wasn’t anything objectionable then (nor now) about Miers such that she’d merit that degree of criticism by the very people who were anticipated to support her: other conservatives.

The plainness that is Harret Miers appears to be offensive to some — her suggestion of the average and not the exceptional, what with “average” from an elitist perspective being very low indeed. To the rest of us, average means — the short list here — she didn’t attend Ivy League and otherwise higher-socially-profiled educational institutions, but she did earn a degree in law that qualified her to represent President Bush before and after Bush assumed the Presidency as then-later White House Counsel. Not too bad for average, not too bad at all.

RedSquareSmallDark.gif I hear/read that they aren’t criticizing Miers as an individual but then conclude their disapproval of her nomination is only as to the nomination (“just as to her as a nominee”) for a seat on the Supreme Court, but to my view, if that isn’t criticizing Miers as an individual, I don’t know what is. It’s being explained away as that conservatives had an expectation of an indebtedness by President Bush to them for their work in getting Bush into office and among the goals involved was to land conservatives on the Supreme Court and instead, he’s nominated Harriet Miers…a conservative just not an illustrious, important conservative, or at least, not important enough.

At least, that’s what I get from reading some of the criticism from the Right. I include myself in the “conservative” side of things but I didn’t have the same offended response to the announcement of Miers as nominee — my response was that I’d like to read more about her, give her and President Bush for having confidence in her, a chance to show us who she is.

In her favor: Miers has introduced herself with the statement that she understands the Supreme Court judiciary as not legislative (“I will not legislate from the bench if confirmed to the Supreme Court”) and that she does understand those positions as being responsible for interpreting and applying our U.S. Constituion to issues before the Court.

Nothing objectionable there. Actually, everything necessary to satisfy conservatives as to what we conservatives want from the judiciary, but it hasn’t stifled the criticism from some about Miers and therein is the mystery: how Miers can satisfy the popular requests for a nominee (a woman is preferred for this current position by many, a conservative who would not legislate from the bench, a conservative who would interpret and apply the Constitution to issues, a conservative who would influence liberals currently on the Court to assist in not legislating from the bench and in applying the Constitution) and be so rejectable in the process.

That last part is what is bothering some and it seems they perceive Miers as being lesser-than what and who they had in mind as to influencing the existing liberals on the Court: and there it is, the elitism, the negative assumption that because Miers isn’t grand enough, she’ll be instead influenced by the liberals if she should be confirmed to the Court and not do the influencing otherwise.

Miers, the little horse who could, but the odds are against her.

Share

13 C O M M E N T S

  1. epador says:

    But will she top Harry Potter (or should I ask Hermione)?

  2. -S- says:

    Ha, epador…I had to go google “Hermione” to understand what you wrote!

    For the equally non-informed among us readers, Hermione explained.

    It IS an odd character name, no doubt.

    About the Miers nomination, it seems to be an issue of popularity versus anything else, with a lot of rationalizations along the way to try to deflect the idea that Miers just is not perceived to be “star” material and that as opined by people who say they decry the “star value” cultural method of assessment as to success or failure — and yet, here they are, applying that method of evaluation and indignant that a mere non-star would even be nominated.

    I’m finding this outcry about Miers to be more revealing about some conservatives than I was prepared for — I think people could at least wait for her to get on with the Hearing process before they denigrate her based upon what it looks to me to be their own fears.

    Souter has done a lot of damage to the ability of some conservatives to have faith in these lesser known nominees, I realize.

  3. -S- says:

    There’s a first time for everything: me disagreeing with Charles Krauthammer as he writes in this recent column, “Withdraw This Nominee.”

    Krauthhammer, like a few other conservative columnists and media figures refers to Harriet Miers as “a crony” of President Bush in the same context that one would call a bad odor emitting from someone’s person objectionable. It’s certainly not polite criticism.

    I’m startled and amazed at this type of language coming from conservatives, and especially from Krauthammer. Truly amazed and incredibly offended by it. Rush Limbaugh took the same perspective about Miers, notorious Anne Coulter has and a few other conservative media persons, likewise.

    Their uniformity of dissing Miers is odd. They’re all using the very same nomenclature and expressions to make this point about Miers and that is that “out of all the candidates in all our nation Bush had to come up with this unqualified, unworthy female” but fancying it up considerably with words like “crony” and “dukedom” and “venue” and more.

    I’m genuinely puzzled. It might just be the smartest means by which liberals in the Senate are conversely incentivized TO confirm Miers because otherwise, I don’t get it. Miers is a retiring, low key person (and personality) and all this force from the right as resistance to her is far too energized to be realistic.

  4. -S- says:

    Krauthammer continues on to refute the “elitist” label applied to his argument and similar, while he then concludes his article with elitist terminology, referring to the Miers nomination as “smallness” (“…a retreat into smallness…”).

    I’m astounded at his lack of insight here, completely astounded by his inability to objectively understand his very argument. Is it not elitist to condescend based upon perceived grandeur and someone’s perceived, alleged inability to “measure up” to that grandeur? These are the very terms that Coulter used, that Limbaugh applied, to denigrate Miers.

    Astoundingly insensitive. They’re losing the argument and reducing their credibility with these perspectives…persectives of elitism based upon the “smallness” of Miers.

  5. epador says:

    I agree. I see Hermione as one sharp woman, though appreciated even by her close friends, is underestimated by her friends and foes alike. Her one failing may be that she allows her idealism to blind her to the practical realities of life. As long as the Supreme Court is not asked to rule on the servitude of House Elves, Hermione would make an excellent and impartial justice… [now go look that one up, lol].

  6. -S- says:

    Interesting to read that, American Daughter. I have read only a few comments such as yours, mine, but the Democrats are getting a lot of mileage out of the negation of Miers by some conservatives, just piling it on by repeating the negatives, in nearly parrot-like fashion.

    It seems when congealed (all the negatives about Miers) to be more an opportune attack process by some conservatives to and about Bush, more than about Miers (but Miers as figurehead for argument’s sake): all this upset and so forcefully about Miers-Bush-Miers-Bush in whatever order and all about…well, what I think it is mostly is all about spending and all about illegal alien problems (which drives and motivates the former problem).

    To boil it all down, the negators wanted someone “more conservative” and they feel let down by Bush for not being “conservative enough” and appear to be exacting some sort of punishment against Bush via Miers. On the other hand, the group most negative about Miers/Bush this week are also those who don’t share his religious beliefs, nor those of Miers. I’m curious how much that undiscussed issue has to do with all this.

    They want (and I do, too) a “strict Constitutionalist” and yet Miers says and is described as such. They still dismiss her, refusing to admit the obvious.

    Certainly something unspoken is operating in this issue, you’re so right about that. Question is, what?

  7. I totally agree with everything you have said, Suzy. As soon as she was nominated, I read her bio and everything else I could find. At once I thought, wow, what a great choice. Why hadn’t anyone thought of that before? Such a solid, unflamboyant, steadfast, workmanlike career. Just the sort of personality we need on the court.

    And then the elitist conservatives started complaining. I couldn’t believe it. There must be some hidden thing that is bothering them that they won’t be honest about. Right now, the complaining conservatives seem completely unreasonable to me.

  8. epador says:

    I agree with you two too. But rather than speculate, just wait. Its sure to come out in Daily Kos or the National Enquirer soon. I suspect its a topic the MSM would not want to touch…

  9. -S- says:

    epador, I perceive more than a tad of sarcasm in your last comments.

    In all seriousness here, I haven’t and I don’t read that AD has, speculated about anything as to motive or issue fueling certain conservative denigration of Miers and Bush for nominating her.

    I can GUESS but it’s just speculation, just as you suggest — the realm of anything’s possible in that regard — but considering theory here isn’t speculation, just an effort to understand.

    I have a theory as to motivation but I’ve already explained what it is in the main thread.

    I am, again, more than disappointed in Krauthammer’s poorly-reasoned theory (link provided in previous comments, this thread) and while Limbaugh made more sense than any of the handfull of conservative media critics as to the Miers issue, this is the one time, also, that Coulter appeared far less than credible in her denigration of the Miers nomination, as has Krauthammer. So incredible, in fact, as to be theatre — and perhaps that’s the nature of their theory right there.

  10. -S- says:

    Interesting here…I find Robert Bork’s comments elucidating. But, I still perceive a lot of the “Big Brains Are Upset About Little Brain Joining In” in the following — “Constitutional law” in my view should remain the purview of attorneys with arguements before the Supreme Court, not the responsibility OF the Supreme Court to “legislate” what Consitutional Law should be — and thus, Bork’s and Krauthammer’s arguments about Miers are empty, although highly interesting:

    Bork calls Miers nomination a ‘disaster’

    Former Supreme Court nominee gives take on newest pick for the bench

    TRANSCRIPT — MSNBC
    Tucker Carlson
    Anchor, ‘The Situation’

    A conservative uproar erupted over President George Bush’s recent appointee to the Supreme Court. Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. But several key Republican senators say she not the best candidate.

    MSNBC-TV’s Tucker Carlson talks to former judge and Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork about the Harriet Miers’ nomination. He says it’s, “a disaster on every level” because she has “no experience with constitutional law whatever”. The nomination is a “slap in the face” to conservatives.

    TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: Are you impressed by the president’s choice of Harriet Miers?

    JUDGE ROBERT BORK, FORMER SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Not a bit. I think it’s a disaster on every level.

    CARLSON: Why? Explain the levels on which it’s a disaster.

    BORK: Well, the first one is, that this is a woman who’s undoubtedly as wonderful a person as they say she is, but so far as anyone can tell she has no experience with constitutional law whatever. Now it’s a little late to develop a constitutional philosophy or begin to work it out when you’re on the court already. So that-I’m afraid she’s likely to be influenced by factors, such as personal sympathies and so forth, that she shouldn’t be influenced by. I don’t expect that she can be, as the president says, a great justice.

    But the other level is more worrisome, in a way: it’s kind of a slap in the face to the conservatives who’ve been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years. There’s all kinds of people, now, on the federal bench and some in the law schools who have worked out consistent philosophies of sticking with the original principles of the Constitution. And all of those people have been overlooked. And I think one of the messages here is, don’t write, don’t say anything controversial before you’re nominated.

    It’s odd that Justice Roberts, who is now the chief justice, and who will probably be an excellent choice in many ways, also had no track record that was easy to follow.

    CARLSON: Yes.

    BORK: Now this woman, who has even less of a track record.

    CARLSON: None at all, it seems like. But her defenders – flaks from the White House, some of whom we’ve had on the show –

    BORK: Flaks, eh?

    CARLSON: Flaks, you know, professional spinners.

    BORK: I know the word, I just was interested in this. Go ahead.

    CARLSON: Yeah, that’s essentially what they are some decent people, but repeating a line that’s been devised by the PR office of the White House – claim that she is a great pick because she brings diversity of experience. Not only is she a woman, and that supposedly – for reasons I don’t quite understand – is very important, but beyond that, she has followed a different path than most Supreme Court nominees. She hasn’t been a judge, et cetera.

    Is there any truth that that’s an important qualification?

    BORK: No, I think not having been a judge is all right. A lot of justices hadn’t been judges before. But I think this idea that it’s important to have a woman’s perspective, or something of that sort, begins to treat the Supreme Court like a legislature, in which everybody has to be-all groups have to be represented in some way. And that’s exactly the wrong message to send.

    The court is not supposed to be a legislature. It’s been a legislature for too much of our history.

    CARLSON: Right. I was fascinated to see the president, at his news conference the other day, tell a reporter that in his many conversations with Harriet Miers, going back more than a decade, he’d never discussed the question of abortion.

    When you were nominated for the Supreme Court, did you discuss with President Reagan, or anybody in his administration, your specific views on Roe v. Wade, or other issues that might come before the court?

    BORK: No, I didn’t have to because I had them all in writing, which was my mistake. The Book of Job says, “Oh, that my adversary had written a book!” Well, if you write a book or articles as I had, you give hostages to fortune. So they didn’t have to ask me; they knew where I was.

    CARLSON: But do you think they should – I mean, as a non-lawyer, it seems to me obvious that the president would want to sit her down and say, you know, here are the important questions that might be raised on the Supreme Court – what do you think of them? Everyone pretends, or says, that that’s somehow verboten; you’re not supposed to do that. What do you think of it?

    BORK: I think it’s ridiculous, because the president is not supposed to ask the nominee, but the senators all drill the nominee endlessly about his or her positions on various issues. Why the senators should be allowed to do that and the president shouldn’t be, I don’t know. But I wish the president wouldn’t ask her, how will you vote on this case, but try to ask her what materials do you consider relevant to deciding this case?

    CARLSON: Yes. A fascinating point, brought up this morning by Charles Krauthammer in his column in the Washington Post. He said that, for four years, Meirs has been immersed in the war and peace decisions while working at the White House – questions of prisoner detention, prisoner treatment, war powers et cetera – and he makes the point, if she does reach the Supreme Court, she’ll have to recuse herself from judging the constitutionality of these decisions because she will have been party to making those decisions. She won’t be able to weigh in on these vital questions of American life. Is that true, do you think?

    BORK: I’m not sure that it is true. Justice Robert Jackson advised President Truman and President Roosevelt on issues like that, and then changed his mind when he got on the Supreme Court in the Steel Seizure case, which held illegal President Truman’s seizure of the steel mills during the Korean War. So I’m not sure that having participated in the decision at the executive branch level disqualifies you from deciding the issue as a judge.

    CARLSON: Right. I don’t think it should either.

    Now what do you think her chances of being confirmed are?

    BORK: I think they’re probably pretty high because – and this should give the president some pause – they’re pretty high because the Democrats seem to like her.

    CARLSON: Yeah.

    BORK: I think that ought to give him reason to think that maybe he made a mistake.

    CARLSON: What about conservatives in Washington. I no longer live there, so I don’t have quite my finger on the pulse of it. But what’s your sense of how Bush’s supporters feel about Harriet Miers?

    BORK: Well, those who are involved in the process have some reason to stick with the White House – not because they believe what the White House has done is wise, but they can’t jump overboard with this decision. But everybody else I’ve talked to ranges between disapproval and outrage.

    CARLSON: Interesting. Well, I hope those voicing disapproval and outrage carry the day. I agree with you completely.

    Watch ‘The Situation with Tucker Carlson’ each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

    © 2005 MSNBC Interactive

  11. epador says:

    OK, so my sarcaster got stuck on the curmedgeon setting. Mea Culpa. Your thoughts are helpful, that’s why I love to read you.

    Last night Bill Maher tore apart Ann Coulter and then his panel [including S. Rushdi] tore apart H. Miers. Mainly based on smug elitist reasoning – she’s simply a crony, etc.

    Even WFB [http://www.uexpress.com/ontheright/] basically sticks to similar concerns. Though his last words do speak to my thoughts on why she is nominated.

    You would think that GWB had appointed his horse as a member of the Senate. Oh, I forgot, Rome on HBO is only covering the rise and fall of Julius C. I better think of an more contemporarily relevant analogy… beware the Ides of October!

  12. -S- says:

    Interesting…the critics of Miers’ nomination are pointing out just what elitism is, despite their naysaying that term itself, both on the Right and the Left (still elitist perspectives in that “of all the qualified superior intellects and Big Brains, Bush had to nominate the lowly, not-sparkly, unremarkable Miers”) and worse, it’s (the Miers nomination) now sprung into the realm of Miers’ dismissals by the circutuitous route wherein various groups who are contrary to conservative values and beliefs now claim to endorse her based upon the opposite of what her few public opinions have been and/or actually are. I would not now be surprised to read that Miers lives in a cave beneath the sea, wears a gown of petroleum and chants to the background music of Wagner while grooming her two heads.

    The WashingtonTimes has an interesting article today (“HALF OF SENATE REPUBLICANS DOUBT MIERS“) in which they TRY to frame the Miers nomination as being unacceptable to Elizabeth Dole, who is quoted as using the same tried and not credible explanation as have other conservative critics of Miers and that is that there are (I paraphrase here) “other candidates who are more qualified and now we have Miers nominated instead” — which is yet another example of an ELITIST denigration of Miers — and I am beginning to wonder if it’s not a good thing that the nested conservatives are having to grope for lucid explanations about their unhappiness in Miers, along the lines of if-they-are-so-bothered-from-a-group-identity-about-Miers, then Miers must be good as fresh source. Which then proves the “Miers is a Bush crony” dismissal argument as false. Miers can’t be a mere crony and be so unacceptable to Washington insiders, but just try getting any sense out of those who make these allegations about her.

    I just don’t know. But no more than anyone until and unless Miers is heard and seen revealing her character as much as is practicable in the Senate Hearings, because the negation about her by some conservatives — being as premature as it is given that there’s nothing much so far to actually establish about Miers — seems extremely oddly organized and certainly is based upon more than anything the individual fears about what a bad nominee is or might be, and not upon Miers as individual with unique characteristic.

    Miers at least supports the Second Amendment while Bork spoke out against it in terms of manifesting as a citizens’ right to bear arms (Bork found it irritatingly dimwitted as a need for modern man/woman to even arm themselves, and again I paraphrase, but this was his main failing in the eyes of conservative critics and I agree with them, despite his otherwise grand intelligence).

    I’m finding it an interesting idea that a moreorless ordinary citizen can be on our Supreme Court (Miers, compared with all the elitist demands that the Supreme Court be comprised of superior, exceptional jurists — not a Constitutional requirement but it doesn’t seem to be a problem that it isn’t for those who make these demands of membership in the S.C.). I also think that Miers is anything but “ordinary” but her lack of flair and grandiosity does point out the excesses by some who are already ON the S.C. (Grinsberg, for example) by way of perhaps being far more actually ordinary than they’d ever chose to let on, and I use the term in regards Ginsberg as pedestrian, nearly banal, which I’d never apply to Miers.

    Miers as nominee seems to point out that despite the illustrious positions relative to the S.C. for membership, we are all still merely human and that all opinions are, in fact, the stuff of personality. I always perceived our Constitution as a profound work of literature by people who acknowledged that.

  13. BIRD says:

    THE LITTLE HORSE WHO COULDN’T

    Read Previous: “THE SUPREME COURT GUMP” (Miers as “…the little horse who could.”) Harriet Miers bolted just before the home stretch. Or, was prodded and then bolted, but more realistically, was chased by a pack and the bolt is predictable…