KEEPING KANSAS: In our view, the most interesting speculation about the Miers nod was voiced by Pat Buchanan on this weeks Meet the Press. Bush may not want to overturn Roe, the pundit resignedly said:
BUCHANAN (10/9/05): Tim, on abortion, I am not sure the president the United States wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned. His wife does not, his mother does not. He refuses to say whether he wants to say whether he wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned. There are a number of Republicans, moderate Republicans, who say, "Well this would be a political disaster." I'm not sure the president of the United States wants the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.Leave aside Bushs wife and mother; Roe v. Wade has been the great GOP political organizing principle of the past thirty years. Whats the Matter with Kansas? was all about it; Roe v. Wade gives the GOP something to organize red-state voters around. Meanwhile, if Roe ever gets overturned, many centrists will be newly angry with the GOP; presumably, thats what Buchanan meant when he said that some moderate Republicans see Roes overturn as political disaster. If Karl Rove is involved in the selection of Court nominees, this sort of Machiavellian political calculation would surely be part of the stew.
In this calculation, Bush/Rove would be looking for nominees with a general conservative profile who wouldnt be likely to overturn Roe. With Rehnquists death, the GOP is down to two anti-Roe votes. Who knows—maybe Roberts and Miers were selected to help keep the count right there.
For the record, Roberts told the Senate, in 2003, that he considered Roe to be settled law. This summer, some observers downplayed that statement; they said Roberts only meant that, on the Court of Appeals, hed follow Roe as Supreme Court precedent. But that just isnt what it means to call Roe (or anything else) settled law. We dont know if Roberts will vote to overturn Roe. But wed guess that Buchanan may have it right—that these selections may be about fooling the rubes in Kansas for one more long stretch of years.
SPEAKING OF FOOLING THE RUBES: Meanwhile, if you want to get played for a rube yourself, read Ariannas post about this same Meet the Press. Her summary of the press roundtable session is completely disingenuous. Read the transcript of the session—then try to believe that she wrote it:
HUFFINGTON: So what did they talk about for twenty minutes? Judging by Tim's questions, the biggest issue facing our country right now—a country currently at war (with 21 American soldiers dead in the first ten days of this month), a country about to undergo an unprecedented rebuilding effort, a country with historic levels of debt, a country with an administration that's imploding from its own hubris, incompetence, and cronyism—is what "the fallout" will be on the 2006 election with special reference to the turnout on the right.That is utterly bogus. The first twelve minutes of the twenty-minute session were solely devoted to the Miers nomination. Only then—more than twelve minutes into the session—did Russert bring up Topic 2, the 2006 election. After about four minutes on that, he moved to a third topic—the terror scare in New York. What makes some people love fooling the rubes? After you read the MTP transcript, you might try asking Arianna.
All other issues were deemed important only in terms of how they may impact the midterm election—over a year away.
BRODER AFFIRMS: For what its worth, David Broder seconded Buchanan on Meet the Press:
BRODER (10/9/05): Here I find myself in rare agreement with Pat Buchanan—I think [the choice of Miers] does reveal, in fact, that the president's priorities are not the same as some of the conservative constituents. I do not think that he has a high-priority goal of reversing Roe v. Wade. And the fact that she is unknown on that subject is not, in his eyes, a liability.For the record, were not sure why Broders so snobby regarding Buchanan. Between The Dean and the Lock and Load Leader, wed have to say that Buchanans judgments are on-target more often, by far.
THE PLEASURES OF CONDESCENSION: The Posts Gene Robinson doesnt know Miers. But this morning, fresh from his recent triumphs, he places the unknown nominees world-view in the year 1805. But then, the newly-resurgent pseudo-lib impulse is producing tons of fine condescension. Earlier, Digby said it was 1741 again, and Ezra Klein said it was like the 1800s when major news orgs dared to report things he didnt like (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/10/05). Thats right! When major officials made formal statements—and news orgs dared to report what theyd said—it showed that the orgs were hidebound racists. This morning, Robinson joins the fun, talking down to the unknown Miers. The pseudo-lib impulse in on a real roll as hapless Bush finally slides in the polls.
ONE IMPROVEMENT: Bush deserves credit for one thing in the Miers nomination; he picked a slightly older nominee (Miers is 60). With his selection of Clarence Thomas, Bush I introduced a cynical new element into Supreme Court nominations—the desire to pick the youngest possible crackpot, thereby extending the nominees years on the Court. Thomas was only 43 when he was nominated, and most of those on the short list were also in their early 40s; this was openly discussed as a selection strategy at the time of the pick. Bush II lightly extended this theme this fall, nominating a 50-year-old Chief Justice. But with the nomination of Miers, Bush walked away from this cynical approach. For the record, Clinton nominated two mature people for the Court; Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 60 at the time she was picked, Stephen Breyer a boyish 55.