[Posted by See-Dubya]
If I may, Patterico?
I had thought about posting here a while back on the extraordinary civility of the Miers nomination debate, until Richard Reeb of Claremont’s blog The Remedy beat me to it. I think it needs to be reasserted in light of Hewitt’s op-ed.
This debate has been about more than Harriet Miers and her policy positions, whatever they may be. Conservatives were confronted with someone unexpected and had to evaluate not only her accomplishments, but also the requirements of the job. To answer those questions, we each had to make a stab at bigger, fundamental questions, like “What is the legitimate role of the Supreme Court in the first place?” I expect I’m not the only one who learned quite a bit during this exchange.
And by and large the debate was a good one that avoided falling into ad hominem attacks. Some of the charges of “elitism” by the pro-Miers crowd toed the line but they deserved some leeway, because they were making a very persuasive point: that “what makes a good judge” and “what gets you tenure at Harvard Law” are not necessarily–in fact rarely–the same thing. Less persuasive are the charges of anti-evangelical undertones that Marvin Olasky is still grumbling about. Miers’ church in Dallas was fundamentalist, though not necessarily all that evangelical (e.g. their orchestra rehearses cantatas). If anti-evangelicalism were an issue here it was because commentators like Olasky have made it one when it never had to be.
So I’ve got to say that Hugh’s column and Olasky’s carping sound like sour grapes. They lost a civil and fair argument that was on both sides an argument from principle. As much as I admire both of these men and all the gifts they bring to conservatism, I don’t think writing about it in the New York Times is going solve any of the problems they lament–but it will give the left something to snicker about. As Ace marvels,
It’s so sad. We all know the Times publishes conservatives only to hurt other conservatives, but they never seem to run out of volunteers for this task.
(And you’ll notice they didn’t hide Hugh’s piece behind the Times Select barrier!)
Do you want to see a nasty campaign? Go back a few months to the Terri Schiavo struggle. That was a debate that split the Right. That was a bitter, unpleasant, personal battle, and the scars have not yet healed. I like to think some of the relative civility in discussing this very important nomination was predicated on avoiding the second installment of that kind of crack-up. I think everyone ought to take a big, deep, breath and quit pointing fingers. It’s done. Complaining about how awful the other side is is now counterproductive.
And with that I yield the floor back to Patterico.
— See Dubya
UPDATE: Richard Reeb politely suggests, in the comments and here, that I misunderstood him: the particular civility he was referring to was the exception in this debate rather than the rule. Nonetheless I still believe that, having seen what sort of nastiness we are capable of during the Schiavo affair, this could have been much worse. Some of it fell short of the bounds of civilized discourse, and yet it also it also by and large exceeded the uncivilized contemporary standards for political discussion. I’m an incrementalist; I’ll take it.
Strangely there seems to be more incivility now, after the fact, than there was during the debate. Hugh chastising the Miers opposition as operating from a “pack mentality” and pointing out their “Mieronies” doesn’t help things, nor does accusing Hewitt of being a GOP hack. Put the guns away, boys, or at least train them on the enemy.