Those of us on the left side of the political spectrum have been enjoying the view as our right-wing counterparts take their turn at Bush-pummeling. The current conservative frothing over Harriet Miers raises a few questions, like:
- I know why we progressives distrust Bush, but what’s the conservative beef with him? Bush critics can forget that this White House’s expectations of unquestioning loyalty have also irked its own supporters. And we can also forget that conservatives’ patience can only be pushed so far, as Robert Novak notes in his column today. “The conservative Republican base had tolerated George W. Bush's leftward lunges on education spending and prescription drug subsidies to re-elect him so that he could fill the Supreme Court with conservatives and send it rightward,” Novak writes. “But the White House counsel hardly looked like what they had expected.”
- What does James Dobson know? And when will we find out? Dobson has come out in favor of Miers, saying mysteriously that he knows more about her views than he will let on. “Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about,” Dobson told The New York Times. Perhaps not. But perhaps either he or someone in the administration will be at liberty to discuss it with the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It seems to me, all of the [information] the White House knows about Harriet Miers should be made available to the Senate and the American people,” rookie Senator Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, said. “If they’re making information available to Dr. Dobson -- whom I respect and disagree with from time to time -- I believe that information should be shared equally with a U.S. senator.” (Thanks to the folks at DailyKos.)
- But the question progressives should be asking is: Who’s behind door number two? Suppose the conservatives actually manage to take Miers down? If the Democrats unite in opposition, it wouldn’t take very many. Trent Lott has already made clear his discomfort with her, and leading opinion-makers like Novak and George Will have not been kind. So supposing they put their votes where their mouths are? Would Bush get obstinate and nominate another – what? – I won’t say moderate, but someone without conservative credentials? Novak again: “Bushologists figure the president was irked by repetitive demands that he satisfy the base with his Supreme Court appointments. He also was irked by the conservative veto of his Texas friend and Miers' predecessor at the White House, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. So, Bush showed the critics by naming another close aide lacking Gonzales' track record to draw the ire of the party's right wing.”
Or will Bush follow the fixing-Dad’s-mistakes pattern. Recall education, tax cuts, Iraq, disaster response (oops, scratch that one) -- areas where Bush II has tried to fix the perceived sins of Bush I. Under that scenario, Bush would really this time fix the Souter problem by nominating a proud conservative.
While senators should of course vote based on high-minded notions of suitability, Democrats might at least ponder this last question. Because while it may be fun to join with the other side to scuttle a nomination, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the next nominee.