Patterico's Pontifications


George Will Nails It

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 11:06 pm

This George Will column about Harriet Miers is awesome. I wholeheartedly agree. It is gold from start to finish:

The president’s “argument” for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

A couple of these reasons echo (more eloquently) some points I made in this post yesterday. Here is my post:

[Bush is] too stupid and lazy to put in the work to figure out that [McConnell, Luttig, and Jones] would be tremendous Justices. It’s “not his style” to make this decision intelligently. [SEE P.S. below.]

And here is Will:

[Bush] has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their prepresidential careers, and this president, particularly, is not disposed to such reflections.

Here is my post:

To the “trust Bush” crowd: Bush signed an unconstitutional campaign finance reform law. Bush instructed Ted Olson to support affirmative action in an argument to the Supreme Court. Et cetera. So even if we “trust Bush,” we’re trusting him to carry out his own policy preferences, not to pick a judge who will read the Constitution as written.

And here is Will:

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked — to insure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance he would be asked — whether McCain-Feingold’s core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, “I agree.” Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, “I do.”

And he didn’t.

Trust him?

No thanks.

Well said, George.

P.S. I should put in context my remark about Bush being “too stupid and lazy to put in the work to figure out that [McConnell, Luttig, and Jones] would be tremendous Justices.” That was in response to a comment Beldar made on his site, in which he said:

Whether he’s right or wrong, Dubya clearly is more willing to rely on his own first-hand experience with Harriet Miers than on what others might tell him, or what he might deduce from the writings of, other potential nominees like Luttig or McConnell or Jones. It’s not his style to sit down and read the several dozen collected law review articles of McConnell or the collected judicial opinions of Luttig or Jones, and whoever else whose opinions he values are vouching for those folks, their vouching apparently hasn’t been enough (as it must have been with Roberts) to overcome his preference to go with someone he’s worked with elbow-to-elbow and face-to-face. To Dubya, McConnell and Luttig and Jones and candidates like them are the “unknown quantities.” They’re all more likely to be “potential Souters” from his point of view.

Now to me, that doesn’t sound admirable, which is how Beldar means it. It just sounds dumb. And I responded:

Right — because he’s too stupid and lazy to put in the work to figure out that they would be tremendous Justices. It’s “not his style” to make this decision intelligently.

Now, I’ll grant you that I’m putting that bluntly, and yes, anger plays a part in the phrasing. It would have been more elegant phrasing to say, as Will did, that Bush “has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution.” It’s basically the same thing I said, but I was much blunter.

I don’t think Bush is as stupid as his worst critics think. It takes a certain savvy to get to where he is. But I also don’t think he’s some kind of genius, either. Let’s get real. And I’m very disappointed that he apparently doesn’t have the candlepower to figure out who would have been a great Justice.

15 Responses to “George Will Nails It”

  1. Patterico:

    Yeah, Bush has just messed up everything. He’s one of the worst president’s we’ve ever had. I can’t think of a single reason to support him over any other Socialist. Nothing he’s done has turned out well.

    Let’s all get together and vote for the Constitution candidate in 2008, or maybe Judge Roy Moore — that’ll teach those Republicans a good, hard lesson.

    Surely nothing terrible will happen from 2009 through 2016. I mean, what, is somebody going to attack us or something?

    Go Hillary!


    Dafydd (f8a7be)

  2. Roy Moore is an idiot.

    Nah, you’re right. We shouldn’t exert any pressure on Republicans to go more to the right. Just let ’em sanction affirmative action, pass unconstitutional campaign finance reform legislation, appoint crappy Supreme Court Justices who will uphold it, run up the deficit into the sky and let fiscal restraint go to hell, and do zilch about illegal immigration. Because the Dems would be worse, we should just sit still and take it.

    Yay Republicans!

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  3. By the way, I didn’t say I’m not voting for Republicans in 2006 or 2008. I said I’m done supporting this president.

    And I don’t feel bad about voting for Perot in 1992. First, as I said before, it had no effect and I knew it wouldn’t, because I was voting in Texas, where Bush was bound to win anyway.

    But I did contribute to the showing of the guy who cared about the deficit, which I figured was bound to have an effect on whoever got elected. Result: a guy who lied about raising taxes got booted out on his ass, and a narcissistic scumbag came into office who, for his other faults, heard the cry of the Perot voters and did something about the deficit.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  4. I can only hope some Republicans on the Senate pressure her to withdraw from consideration.

    Btw, I disagree with your explanation of why Clinton finally did something about the deficit. He did nothing about the deficit until the Republicans turned it into an effective political issue, and the polls showed it would be a popular move. In effect, he called the Republicans’s bluff.

    Recall that when he took office, one of his reactions to the economic situation was to call for increased spending in order to stimulate the economy. Thankfully his plan was never fully enacted, largely due to Republican opposition.

    Pigilito (970c88)

  5. You’re calling Bush stupid now? How are you any different than the looney liberals and their immature name-calling? You’re a disappointment.

    LLA (b684a2)

  6. In 1992 I voted for Clinton, not Perot, because I was a Democrat then. But in retrospect there is a direct line from the failure of Bush one, to Perot, to the contract with America and the 1994 Republican victories on a platform which was Perotism without the nutcase. So I don’t think anyone should feel bad about voting for Perot. If Bush one had been endorsed, how much more liberal would the Republican party be today? And if conservatives line up for Bush two what lessons will John McCain be learning?

    Agricola (62c122)

  7. There is a very good chance that Bush has allowed himself to be led down the primrose path on this nomination.

    Miers can easily be filibustered. In fact, there is a good case (in my opinion) to make that this is what we will see.

    Paul Deignan (9e57a7)

  8. Agricola, in case you’ve forgotten, very little of the CWA ever got implemented. Meanwhile, we’re still stuck today with eight years’ worth of Clinton’s judicial appointments, the best of whom were roughly equal to the worst judges Bush I appointed (e.g., Breyer was about as bad as Souter, but Thomas was much better and Ginsburg much worse). If Bush I had been re-elected, the judicial landscape certainly would have looked better than it does today, and there’s no evidence at all that this would have made the Republican Party any more liberal. If repeated Republican victories push anybody in any direction, they should push losing Democrats to become more conservative.

    Xrlq (428dfd)

  9. I don’t think Bush’s decision to base his pick on personal interactional information rather than the studying of judicial opinions and writing has to do with his candlepower, but with his willpower. It’s more comforting to him personally to base such an important decision on his heard, rather than his head. I know it sounds like that means he’s just too dim, but I think it’s more like he thinks he’s too dim to use his head to make the pick.

    I’m a Kozinski fan myself.

    Bench (e79a95)

  10. In regard to a filibuster against Miers: Don’t hold your breath.

    The Democrats aren’t as stupid as so many on the right think. They will not filibuster this nomination over abortion. They know any judge nominated by Bush will be pro-life, his alleged lack of a “litmus test” notwithstanding.

    If Republicans think the Dems are going to bail them out on the Miers nomination with a filibuster they are so wrong. This nominee will get an up-or-down vote. All the predictions of armageddon no matter who Bush nominates are wrong. Didn’t happen with Roberts and it definitely won’t happen with Miers. The Democrats know they don’t have the votes to derail any nominee and this could be the best they are likely to get.

    Pug (2bcb61)

  11. I can’t think of any way Miers doesn’t get through. Many Dems will support her and many/most Republicans will as well. The only thing that might get in her way is an ABA rating below qualified – which isn’t likely to happen, and the Dems getting red in the face when the figure out she hates Roe.

    Regardless, my issue with this whole thing is becoming more and more my perception that Bush is just trying to repay loyalty. While in W’s mind a judgeship might be appropriate for a loyal attorney friend, a position on the USSC must be more thoughtful. This doesn’t seem very thoughtful, except that he believes that she will vote as he would vote on certain issues. But the “trust me” concept is wearing thin on me.

    MOG (b1fc6b)

  12. Will is right on the “trust me” issue. And I would go further and say that we should assume that Miers has given the ok on each decision the administration has made that pushes some constitutional envelope. At least until she clearly says to the Senators on the committee that the President’s decisions were contrary to her advice on whether they conflicted with the constitution, which of course she won’t do. So, she should get tagged with McCain-Feingold and also with diversity being a compelling state interest, and maybe a few others that won’t please conservative Republicans looking to improve on O’Connor. Gee, maybe it’s just a coincidence, but guess who just happened to write the Court’s opinions in the McConnell case and Grutter v. Bollinger? Hubris’ very funny piece from the other day is starting to seem less funny and more like “what’s for dinner” the more I think about how O’Connor’s worst opinions and the administration’s (read: Mier’s?) worst decisions match up.

    TNugent (58efde)

  13. Bush League Opposition

    Between David Frum’s idiocy and George Will’s irrelevant ramblings, I’m officially out of the anti-Miers camp, and into the anti-anti-Miers camp.

    damnum absque injuria (38c04c)

  14. Your comment about Bush being stupid and lazy is going too far. Personal ad homonym attacks do not persuade or enlighten, and with your background you are smart enough to know better. On top of that, he’s the president. Doesn’t GWB, or at least the Office of the President, deserve a little more respect than that?

    transplanted texan (8b99b3)

  15. Misunderestimating His Own Base

    Bush is catching all kinds of hell from conservatives over his timid choice of Harriet Miers as Supreme Court nominee.  There are all sorts of reasons for conservatives to oppose her nomination, but I think Jimmie Bise, Jr. sums it…

    Watcher of Weasels (1ab5cd)

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