Will Bush's Base Stand By Their Man?

"No conservative should be in a celebratory mood now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination," editorializes the National Review Online. The editorial goes on: "Still, today is the best day Republicans have had in some time." Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard suggests that this is the "first step on the road to political recovery for President Bush" in his piece titled, "Rebuilding."

The American Prospect's TAPPED blog, on the other hand, is astonished that the right can forgive and forget so easily. And over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds remains to be convinced. He writes that the Miers nomination was "a discredit to the White House, which nominated her. Now it's a do-over, and they'd be well-advised not to blow it."

Miers was an attempt -- albeit a clumsy one -- to give the Senate a (roughly) consensus nominee, another John Roberts. No one knows at this point whether the President will again shoot for broad appeal or try to redeem himself in the eyes of his base by appointing someone undeniably and unabashedly right wing.

In this morning's editorial, the Post recommends the former course of action.

I'd be disappointed if he chooses to appeal solely to conservatives. But the key question this morning is whether those among the President's base who deplored the Miers nomination will rally to his side, particularly if indictments are handed down to top White House aides today.

The wounds from this battle would have to heal literally overnight -- and given the increasing belief among conservatives that Bush isn't really "one of us," is that as likely to happen as The National Review and the Weekly Standard seem to expect?

Jehane, author of The Third Glass blog, might not be so fast to forgive her fellow conservatives. "Did it ever occur to you wise guys that if you managed to torpedo the Miers nomination before the hearings, it would look to the Democrats like Bush was forced to 'cave' to a bunch of reich-wing hardliners? Of course not." She faults them for not leaving it to the Democrats to veto Miers's nomination after her "complete unsuitability" became apparent in the hearings. Such a scenario would have forced the Democrats to use up their ammunition to defeat Miers and left Bush with pretty much free rein to choose a more obviously conservative nominee.

Of course, Jehane presupposes that the Democrats would have opposed Miers. If it had come to a vote and the Dems were smart (which is still up for debate), they would have let the 22 Roberts naysayers vote No on Miers, and the rest of them would vote Yes, forcing the disaffected Republicans to scuttle the nomination on the Senate floor. The GOP could not take that chance.

TomPaine.com presents reactions from two big opponents of Bush's court nominees, including this from Ralph Neas of People for the American Way: "It's an astonishing spectacle. The unelected power-brokers of the far right have forced the withdrawal of President Bush's own Supreme Court nominee, before a confirmation hearing has even been held. President Bush's complete capitulation to the far-right interest groups is astounding. The ultra-right wing dominance of Republican Party politics is complete, and they have dealt a terrible blow to an already weakened President and his administration." Nan Aron of Alliance for Justice was quotes as saying, "An independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our democracy. It is too vital to be used as a means of placating a political party's base." Both Aron and Neas rightly urge the president to choose a consensus nominee.

One possibility? Well, there seems to be a lot of love at the National Review for Maureen Mahoney. (Check her out -- she seems like a fine candidate. Writes Jonathan Adler, "Now if only the White House were listening...")

AlterNet blogger Rachel Neumann is one of the few who admits she's going to miss Miers. She could have some fun with that nomination, she says, but "now some people are betting on Michael Luttig or a J. Harvie Wilkinson, both white men, both hard-line conservative judges. No fun at all."

As for who else might be under consideration, the National Journal's Hotline blog has a short list.

Also look to the Hotline blog for a glimpse into how things unfolded behind the scenes in the immediate run up to the decision. Mary Lynn F. Jones writes a blow-by-blow analysis for AlterNet of how the nomination got to the defunct status it enjoys today.

(I hear that the president's dog, Barney, has withdrawn his name from consideration. He feels that although his loyalty is beyond reproach, his qualifications might not hold up to scrutiny. Bush was about to beg Barney to reconsider -- rumor has it Snausages might have been involved -- but Bush was ultimately persuaded by his advisers that it was for the best to pick someone beyond the inner circle this time.)

By Emily Messner |  October 28, 2005; 12:03 AM ET  | Category:  Issue Updates
Previous: Right and Left Weigh in On Miers Withdrawal | Next: Finally, Happy Indictment Day!

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I'd just like one thing to be noted before this cycle begins anew for the next nominee.

Most of the right wing was against Miers, all right. But many of us hated the pick from the minute we heard about it not because we wanted another Scalia (though that would be nice) but because Miers' qualifications for the Supreme Court were nil. No constitutional law experience whatsoever. No high court experience. No scholarly body of work. No reason to think future generations would be studying her written opinions in 50 years.

Miers leapfrogged over dozens -- or, if you prefer, hundreds -- of more people with better resumes for the sole reason that she was a known quantity to the guy making the pick. That's not how conservatives do it. I was appalled.

I've been telling my left-wing friends since the steel tariffs that Bush isn't the conservative they thought he was. I don't know what he is. For a while I was willing to support him anyway. But now, I sincerely hope he realizes conservatives are not automatons who will support him no matter what ideological points he sells out in the name of appealing to his opponents.

Posted by: liugliugliug | October 28, 2005 01:55 AM

The conservatives just yanked on Bush's leash and let him know that they own him. The boy won't be getting uppity again.

Posted by: mh | October 28, 2005 03:57 AM

It would appear to me that the 'conservatives' are very willing to 'sell out' their own principles to get what they want. I've never seen so much flip flopping. What exactly is the difference between the far right and the far left? The American public is disserved by both. Just as the fractious liberal interest groups came together in the past to rally around a politician who would talk the talk and then submarined them when they couldn't walk the walk because you can't please all the people all the time, the conservatives appear to have gotten on board the same sinking boat. Does it strike anyone else as ironic that the same individuals who were responsible for the cabal on the left are the ones that put together the current cabal on the right?

Posted by: ce | October 28, 2005 05:29 AM

Now what was that mantra about the President's nominee being his choice and that was his right? And deserving an 'up or down vote' in any case? Hmmmm. It's supposed to be a matter of principle, until the principle doesn't do what you want? Can't wait to see the grounds for supporting whoever turns up next round.

Posted by: Ruth | October 28, 2005 06:30 AM

I think that it may be more difficult for Bush now to find someone eminently qualified who is willing to run the gauntlet. The far right mistakenly believes that the scuttling of Miers was due to their newly won power, but it was actually due to misgivings about her abilities and competence. If Bush makes the same mistake and picks an ideologue acceptable to them, that candidate will encounter a huge amount of resistance from moderates and liberals. Any argument that the President's pick deserves a hearing and an up or down vote will now be received with howls of laughter. On the other hand, a pick who is not a hard right-winger will be strenuously opposed by those drunk on their supposed power.

Posted by: rh | October 28, 2005 07:18 AM

Principles in conservatives :-> Opinions to ponder fifty years hence ... Ever read anything Clarence Thomas has written? Ever wonder what brilliant originalist interpretation accompanied Scalia's vote on Florida 2000? Conservatives with ideas? That's another brilliant one --- conservative means not having new ideas or wanting to turn the clock back to void new ideas. I don't cotton to liberal `throw money at problems solutions' but since when is morality-mandated-by-superficial-religiosity a bedrock conservative value? At least poor Goldwater was more consistent than these neocons.

Posted by: principledconservatives-yeahright | October 28, 2005 08:48 AM

Bush Doesn't Have a Base
Let's be clear, President Bush doesn't have a political base but a political base does have President Bush. The problem most Republicans and Democrats have with this President is that he doesn't have any core philosophical beliefs about government or how to govern. The leaders of the far "right" recognized this before anyone else and found themselves in control of a President. However, as is the cases with the extremes of both parties, they went too far in what they wanted this President (who has limited abilities by any measure) to do. The result is now a fight between political reality and the lack of political reality of the far right leaders of the Republican Party. Unless the "realists" of both parties can impose a compromise candidate on Bush, we will see a more volitile set of hearings than we had in the Thomas confirmation. While I didn't think Harriet Miers was qualified to be on the Supreme Court (or indeed any court), I did find it encouraging that Bush for the first time in his presidency made a decision on his own. Now the question will be whether or not he has the guts to make another.

Posted by: FWK | October 28, 2005 09:36 AM

So a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion on Miers account and conquering a nation under U.N. compliance aren't conservative enough for the real right wing nuts. Just what would satisfy them, nuclear war?

Posted by: Frank Vlcek | October 28, 2005 09:36 AM

So a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion on Miers account and conquering a nation under U.N. compliance aren't conservative enough for the real right wing nuts. Just what would satisfy them, nuclear war?

Posted by: Frank Vlcek | October 28, 2005 09:37 AM

The week of the flip-flops: so far this week we have seen Bush put the Davis-Bacon act back in control, watched Harriet Miers pull-out as a bone to religous right-wing extremists, heard Republicans whine about "perjury technicalities", watched elected American leaders condone torture, and observed total capitulation of fiscal responsibility by refusing to address outrageous pork in the Republican Congress. It is clear that Bush and many congressional Republicans have lost any moral and philosophical compass that they had. Placating the myriad of Republican political power bases out there has become their sole objective. It is impressive; it took the Democrats about 20-30 years of power in Congress before they got to that point. The Republicans have been able to accomplish it in a decade. At least, when Ronald Reagan was President and his adminstration was being buffeted around, you knew that he still had solid personal beliefs that would bring him back to an even keel (even if you disagreed with those beliefs, you still had to respect them). There is no evidence that this is the case with this Administration or Congress.

Posted by: rd | October 28, 2005 10:04 AM

Friday morning after Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination, a new baby is born. This baby should be named "ends-testing from the Republican Right." Editorials in the New York Times and in the Washington Post claim that some on the Republican Right are now requiring Supreme Court nominees to be solid anti-abortion votes. Nothing could be further from the truth. This baby is the product of an overheated imagination or pure fabrication. Everyone on the Right who participated in the Miers debate and opposed Miers did so because of her crude understanding of legal principle and not because she might make a pro-choice vote. Critics who objected to a passage in a Miers speech from 1993 did so because, among other dubious statements, she seemed to say that self-determination is the over-riding principle in the abortion debate. You do not have to be pro-life to recognize that such an appeal to a principle of self-determination would break whatever mooring the debate has in the Constitution of the United States.

As a separate point, everyone should recognize that ends-testing in selecting a nominee is distinct, both logically and practically, from ends-testing by the Judiciary Committee or the Senate. A president may use his discretion in selecting a nominee. However, after the nominee is selected, the president does not participate with the Judiciary Committee or the Senate in evaluating the nominee. Objectionable ends-testing occurs in the process of evaluation not in selection of a nominee. For the Judiciary Committee to apply an ends-test to a nominee is a perversion of the process. Nominees are to be evaluated on their knowledge of the law, on their judicial philosophy, and on their temperament. They are not to be evaluated on promises of future votes to support particular outcomes. The Democrats introduced ends-testing during the Bork hearings. Their influence has been incredible. Senator Specter almost lost his job as Head of the Judiciary Committee because he said that he did not want to be sent nominees that might overturn Roe v Wade. (He should have lost his job.) That shows just how pervasive the mind-set of ends-testing has become since the original Borking. What the Republican Right wants is repudiation of ends-testing during the evaluation of nominees before the Judiciary Committee. What any clear thinking voter in the USA wants is a policy of evaluating Supreme Court justices on the basis of their qualifications as justices and not on their promises to support particular outcomes.

Posted by: James Mayhall | October 28, 2005 10:16 AM

>Miers leapfrogged over dozens...for the sole reason that she was a known quantity to the guy making the pick.
>That's not how conservatives do it.
>I was appalled.

Um, perhaps you didn't notice but that's apparently the way you picked your presidential nominee as well - unless you want us to believe that Mr. Bush has the best mind in the conservative party. So that IS how conservatives do it. Not REAL conservatives (IMHO) but the ones in power, who are defining "conservative" for you.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: asdg | October 28, 2005 10:41 AM

A great many of the media pundits are mistakenly assuming that Bush's falling popularity is because he has alienated his base. But that does not add up. If anyone takes the time to recall, Bush's slide in the polls began with his disastrous meddling in a case involving the removal of a feeding tube from a long comatose young woman.

Over much of the spring, summer and fall of this year, Bush's slide has continued to worsen because of his own poor performance on a bevy of issues that need not be repeated here. Throughout all of this his rock bottom support has been around the 39% level which, oddly enough is the percentage of people in surveys done by Pew and other reputable polling organizations, who call themselves "conservative".

To be sure, Bush need the support of these people but, not at the cost of alienating the rest of the electorate, which he could do if he continues to mistakenly assume that the 38% of conservatives in this country represents some sort of mandate to implement exclusively an agenda that they want.

It is notable that Bush's greatest loss of popularity is in the cneter of the electorate. Thus, it seems to me that his fate lies in the center, not on the far right.

Posted by: Jaxas | October 28, 2005 11:16 AM

Someone selected on the basis of a quota system who was obviously unqualified for the position in question was forced to withdraw her nomination - obviously no conservative principles (ie, common sense) involved in that scenario.

Here's what's going to happen for those confused: Bush nominates a conservative legal star, the liberals howl and, the conservative movement attacks (banking on a public fed-up after Miers and various outher events with 'negativity'), the dems won't back down, all the Republican 'nuclear option' compromisers are forced by the strong conservative support for the new nominee to dismantle the filibuster, Rove et. al. get an ultra-conservative judge and a powerless Democratic minority.

Trust me, this will turn to gold for Bush and his gang - if Miers had been acceptable, the filibuster stays; if she had been someone borderline and the dems lined up against her, the moderates would have resisted torpedoing the filibuster even with a borking; now though, the death of the filibuster and the ascendency of judicial conservatism are assured.

If you don't believe me, remember what happens every time Democrats start celebrating an apparent victory . . .

Posted by: Pragmatist | October 28, 2005 11:39 AM

"What exactly is the difference between the far right and the far left?"
Well, an example is the American Civil War - pro-slavery vs. anti-slavery hardliners. Moderates (the vast majority) couldn't have cared less, and few if any believed that the issue of slavery would lead to a civil war.
It's no coincidence that the far left runs the Democratic Party and the far right, the Republican Party. Together, they run the country. Politically, moderates are invisible.

Posted by: ajp | October 28, 2005 11:45 AM

I'm somewhat disinclined to respond to somebody dumb enough to believe that the U.S. Civil War was a result of slavery, but here goes.

If political moderates are invisible, it is so because of their own choosing. By definition, a moderate has few if any discernable beliefs, other than, "Maybe." Power isn't gained by being wishy-washy, and nobody wants a leader who can't make up his mind. By saying you're a moderate, you're effectively saying that you won't take a side and you don't have any particular ideology. Who on earth would want to fight with or for you?

Posted by: VRWC | October 28, 2005 01:46 PM

My mistake. Sorry. A thousand pardons. It was about states' rights. Specifically, the right of a state to decide whether a person can own property in the form of "sub-humans" from Africa.

Posted by: ajp | October 28, 2005 11:27 PM

For the best uncensored news site go to: http://takingaim.info/shows/audio.html

Posted by: Che | October 29, 2005 07:31 AM

Moderates can have strong convictions, they do not have extreme convictions and can come to reasonable solutions that consider all points of view. Moderates are people who can think and discuss and even change their minds with new information or situations, ie flip-flop. The charge of being a flip-flopper is an indictment of the closed mindness and dead brain of the accuser. A moderate can sense that some people with moral values are not moral and not agree with them on the basis of being moral and not opposed to moral values. A moderate can see that Christian values are represented in the liberal agenda and works to implement these Christian values and thus be martyred for being liberal. The Right has had the guise of being godly, but recent events have reminded us that they are really fire and brimstone creatures, pollution loving, people hating, money following, unthinking reactionaries. Then again knee jerk liberals, extreme political correctness and inbred leadership is not going to be useful in solving any problems. A plague on both your houses and let the Center rise to pull this Nation, this World together in better harmony, peace and fruitfulness.

Posted by: williemm | October 30, 2005 08:11 AM

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