Wow. The L.A. Times reports that, while Sen. Sam Brownback hasn’t decided that he is opposing Miers, he is seriously considering it:
[I]t was a slap in the face to the White House when Brownback, after three days of lobbying by White House aides to persuade leaders among evangelical conservatives to support Supreme Court nominee Harriet E. Miers, emerged from an hourlong meeting with her Thursday and said he was prepared to vote against her.
“I still think there’s a lot to learn about this nominee,” Brownback said, citing doubts about Miers’ positions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. “I must do my own due diligence, and I can’t say that all these issues are overcome in a one-hour meeting.”
Asked if he was prepared to vote against Miers, Brownback said: “Yes.”
Asked if he was prepared to vote against her even if President Bush pleaded with him directly, Brownback replied: “Yes.”
So: naming a candidate that splits your party in half — is that part of the vaunted MOOSEMUSS strategy?
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt correctly complains about the spin of the L.A. Times story. He points to his interview with Brownback, and says:
In this interview, as with all the interviews he did yesterday, Brownback conveys caution and the possibility that he could vote against Miers, along with the possibility that he might vote for her. That position didn’t serve the Times’ agenda, so they chapped his exchanges up until they found a grabber.
Nice work, that, but don’t call it reporting.
Hugh has a good point. The Times‘s phraseology — saying that Brownback is “prepared to vote against” Miers — suggests that Brownback has already made up his mind. You have to read the story carefully to see that this is not so. That is why I was careful at the beginning of this post to note that Brownback has not made up his mind — so that my readers would not be misled the way some L.A. Times readers undoubtedly were.
But Hugh also should not underestimate the significance of Brownback’s statement. The fact that Brownback is willing to publicly acknowledge his reservations about the Miers nomination — and to say that his opposition could hold even in the face of a personal appeal from Bush — is significant. It shows that he is seriously considering voting against her — an indication that this nomination will be in trouble if the Administration does not provide solid information to assuage the concerns of conservatives like Brownback.