Miers and the Senate. John Cole, SCRANTON TIMES-TRIBUNE
It could have been worse. President Bush had to accept a punishing defeat on his nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, but the feared indictment against his top adviser, Karl Rove, did not come down. First, the Miers case. She withdrew, when it became clear she was not making headway against the opposition to her nomination from all sides -- particularly from conservatives. Now the president faces some critical decisions on what to do next.
Joining the panel to discuss this are Dan Henninger, columnist and deputy editor of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL editorial pages, David Rivkin, an attorney who has written for the WSJ editorial page and served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and Bush, and John Fund of OpinionJournal.com, who predicted the Miers nomination was going to end this way last week on the program.
"The president has another nomination to make. What are the lessons for him as he thinks about that pick from this failed nomination?"
"No matter how well a president knows someone that he wants to appoint to high office, he has to go through a proper vetting process and ask the tough questions. That wasn't done with Harriet Miers. Secondly, I think the White House often misunderstood the loyalty of the conservative base in this country to President Bush as being loyal to him only. They are actually loyal to a set of ideas. The White House thought the conservative base should follow the dictum, 'Our leader, right or left.'"
"The conservative legal community, and it expands beyond them as well, they want to have this debate in front of the Senate. They want the national television cameras turned on this nominee, and they want that nominee to defend these ideas. The political side -- and that includes the White House -- doesn't want to have that debate, nor do the senators very much want to have that. The Democrats do not want to make a good faith effort to engage these people. They simply want to find out their position on Roe v. Wade."
"I think a lot of people don't understand that the bulk of the conservative community is looking at a principled approach to judging, a restrained judge, a judiciary with a core constitutional function. For example, Roberts' very writings, his very approach to most things, is very restrained. The fact that some people said, 'Well, he's not a fire-breather,' was actually reassuring, because we do not need fire-breathing judges, even if they are going to render some conservative decisions."