Monday, October 03, 2005

Conservatives Should Oppose Miers Nomination; 2008 GOP Presidential Hopefuls Should Begin Unhitching Their Wagons from Bush White House

How does one accurately describe the feeling of betrayal?

That's the question that came to mind this morning as I heard that President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and later found that she's given campaign contributions to Al Gore (1988), received positive ratings from Harry Reid during the senatorial consultation process, and is even receiving positive comments from Chucky Schumer.

This White House has apparently lost its mind and has lost the confidence of its conservative base with this act. Given the stakes of this Supreme Court vacancy, we needed a rock solid conservative with a long paper trail. Instead, we're getting another Souter: a stealth nominee whose paper trail is virtually nil, who has never undergone a trial by fire and who is personally vouched by the inner circle of the President.

Someone please tell me we did not do all the work we did in 2000 & 2004 to elect this President only to get a Supreme Court whom Senator Chuck Schumer says could be a consensus nominee. Someone please tell me that we're not going to have to take a stealth nominee whom we're being asked to trust without verifying.

History is not on the side of Republican presidents who hope for the best from their judicial nominees. Republican presidents gave us justices Earl Warren, William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, and David Souter. By contrast, the only Democratic nominee in the last 50 years to not be a full-fledged liberal judicial activist was Justice Byron White, a Kennedy appointee. In 1990, John Sununu the elder, former Governor of New Hampshire, swore David Souter was a conservative and he was nominated to the Supreme Court instead of Edith Jones; we quickly learned how wrong Sununu was.

Since I agree that directly asking prospective judicial nominees about their views on specific issues, their paper trails must be consulted to determine their philosophies and positions on key judicial issues. There are at least a dozen good, very well qualified conservatives on the appellate bench whose views have been tested under adversity. Janice Rogers Brown (who would have been my pick), Emilio Garza, Michael Luttig, Edith Jones (whom Bush 41 rejected in favor of David Souter), Samuel Alito, Karen Williams, and Priscilla Owen would all have been superior picks.

The President and his water carriers will say they wanted to nominate a "confirmable" candidate or something to that effect. Do they really believe a mother of all bloodbaths Supreme Court confirmation battle for someone like those I just mentioned would not be worth the fight? If nothing else, we conservatives are quite hungry for some bold actions in Washington. Unless I've missed something, there's no chance we would be able to use the next 3 or 4 months to pass permanent tax cuts, enact the Sununu-Ryan social Security bill, and open ANWR, the offshore areas, the Great Lakes and federal lands in the West to oil & gas exploration.

This Supreme Court nomination is about more than contemporary politics. We on the right who believe the Constitution means exactly what it says and exactly what the Founders intended and neither the passage of time nor public opinion shifts nor international opinion or jurisprudence are relevant want strong originalist judges. We want judges who understand that the evolving standards of an enlightened society should manifest themselves in the constitution only by the vote of 2/3 of both houses of Congress and the legislatures of 3/4 of the states. The opposing viewpoint holds that a voluntary recitation of a pledge of allegiance to the flag of one nation under God is unconstitutional, that the federal government can exercise power in virtually any area of our daily lives, and that the states are powerless to prevent the gruesome murder of unborn children even to the point of birth.

I never thought things would get this bad, but absent a change of course, I will be one of those who "stay home" next year, at least in the federal races. Unfortunately, many of those, who, like me, are disgusted to the point of considering staying home will do so with regard to all races, federal, state, and local. When the next scandal arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the white House should not be surprised to find its defenders and water carriers outside the Beltway far less numerous; at that point, President Bush will truly become a lame duck.

Now is the time for 2008 GOP presidential hopefuls to begin unhitching their wagons from President Bush. This administration and the conservative agenda are presently dead in the water. We will be lucky next year to preserve the seats we have in Congress, whereas nine months ago a filibuster-proof Senate and enduring Republican majority in Congress for the next generation seemed quite possible. I understood & tolerated the spending excesses as long as it appeared we were working toward important, long-range goals that outweighed large deficits and a government that consumed an excessive share of the economy regardless of whether it was financed by debt or taxes.