Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » October 2005 » Jack Balkin weighs in on the Harriet Miers nomination....

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10/03/2005: Jack Balkin weighs in on the Harriet Miers nomination....

and I get the feeling we're fucked....

...Miers is a long time friend of the President's whom he trusts on a personal level. This gives him information about her beliefs and values that most other people are not likely to have. It also allows Bush to have a far greater degree of comfort in making a lifetime appointment, because he will have a somewhat better ability to guess how Miers will likely respond not only to the key issues of the moment but to unknowable problems in the future.When in doubt, this President has turned to trusted aides and associates, and promoted them. The Miers nomination is yet another example. The advantage of this strategy is predictability (for the President, as opposed to the public as a whole); the disadvantage is the danger of cronyism.


President Bush is often said to avoid the sorts of decisions his father made, but in this respect George Bush is taking a page from his father's playbook. Hoping to avoid the confirmation battle over Robert Bork, President George H.W. Bush chose David Souter, about whom little was known when he was first nominated. (Unlike Souter, Miers is a stealth candidate about whom the President has lots of information unavailable to the public.) Choosing a stealth candidate is a sign that the President wants to avoid a fight, either because he is in a relatively weak political position, because he fears that his supporters disagree among themselves, or because he would rather expend his energies and influence elsewhere. All three of these seem to be the case right now.
And from Josh Marshall, we get this:
In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. [quoting David Frum via Matt Yglesias --LRC]
Just what I like, a judge with a skeptical frame of mind towards the claims of the Executive. Actually, what's really scary is that this is what Frum (who Yglesias describes as a "certified rightwinger") says about the Miers nomination (putting the quote above in context):
I believe I was the first to float the name of Harriet Miers, White House counsel, as a possible Supreme Court. Today her name is all over the news. I have to confess that at the time, I was mostly joking. Harriet Miers is a capable lawyer, a hard worker, and a kind and generous person. She would be an reasonable choice for a generalist attorney, which is indeed how George W. Bush first met her. She would make an excellent trial judge: She is a careful and fair-minded listener. But US Supreme Court?

In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. She served Bush well, but she is not the person to lead the court in new directions - or to stand up under the criticism that a conservative justice must expect.
But then again, what do you expect from a miserable failure? Frum again:
The harsh truth is, at this 5 year mark in the administration's life, that its domestic achievements are very few. The most important, the tax cut, will likely prove temporary, undermined by the administration's overspending. The education bill, the faith-based initiative, and the rest do not amount to much. Social Security reform will not happen; work on tax reform has not even begun; the immigration proposals are disasters that will never become law.

Civil justice reform should be credited to Congress, not the White House. After that, what is there other than the Patriot Act and of course judicial nominations? But even on judicial nominations, thus far the president has only
preserved the old balance on the court. If he is actually to advance his principles, he will need a real conservative leader: a Luttig, for example, a Michael McConnell - or perhaps Senator Mitch McConnell if the president is concerned about confirmability.
Yep.... Give ol' Dumbya a chance to nominate a solid, conservative justice, and he goes for the probably incompetent crony.

But what should we expect by now?

Len on 10.03.05 @ 12:08 PM CST

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