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Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush Chickens Out; Conservative Heads Explode

Posted by Bob Brigham

The consensus is established: Bush is a lame duck and the reaction to Harriet Miers is nothing but angst from the Republican base. Because President George Bush is a "Lame Duck" who fears the Democrats more than the loss of his base. Here is the raw political analysis...

The New York Times:

By instead settling on a loyalist with no experience as a judge and little substantive record on abortion, affirmative action, religion and other socially divisive issues, Mr. Bush shied away from a direct confrontation with liberals and in effect asked his base on the right to trust him on this one.

The question is why.

On one level, his reasons for trying to sidestep a partisan showdown are obvious, and come down to his reluctance to invest his diminished supply of political capital in a battle over the court.

The White House is still struggling to recover from its faltering response to Hurricane Katrina. The Republican Party is busily trying to wave away a scent of second-term scandal. The relentlessly bloody insurgency in Iraq continues to weigh heavily on his presidency. And no president can retain his political authority for long if he loses his claim to the center.

"The swagger is gone from this White House," said Charles E. Cook Jr., editor of The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter, citing a litany of other difficulties afflicting the administration, including high gasoline prices and the failure of Mr. Bush's push to overhaul Social Security. "They know they have horrible problems and they came up with the least risky move they could make."

The Bush Administration and the Republican Party have been gripped by the Fear. They are playing defense. One might even say the GOP is behaving like the Democratic Party (ouch).

The Washington Post:

If President Bush's goal is to shift the Supreme Court in a more conservative direction, his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers yesterday signaled a desire to do so as quietly as possible. The nomination appeared designed primarily to avoid a major fight in the Senate and, said skeptics on the left and right, was made out of a position of political weakness, not strength.

Bush's decision confounded both right and left, as perhaps the president's advisers had hoped. In nominating someone who caused dismay among conservative activists but who provoked little strong opposition among Democrats -- and words of praise from Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) -- the White House may have calculated that Bush can more easily afford some early heat from the right than a titanic struggle with Democrats that could tie up the Senate and leave him in an even weaker position three months from now.

Reaction to Harriet Miers from the Republican Party

The Republican Establishment is pissed, just ask Richard Viguerie:

“Congratulations are due to Ralph Neas, Nan Aron, and Chuck Schumer for going toe-to-toe with President Bush and forcing him to blink,” said conservative activist Richard A. Viguerie. “Liberals have successfully cowed President Bush by scaring him off from nominating a known conservative, strict constructionist to the Court, leaving conservatives fearful of which direction the Court will go.”

“President Bush desperately needed to have an ideological fight with the Left to redefine himself and re-energize his political base, which is in shock and dismay over his big government policies,” Viguerie added.

“With their lack of strong, identifiable records, President Bush’s choices for Supreme Court nominees seem designed more to avoid a fight with the extreme Left than to appeal to his conservative base,” lamented Viguerie.

Many conservatives worry that without verifiable records, President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees will be more like the liberal Justice Souter than the conservative, strict constructionists Scalia and Thomas.

Remembering and still dismayed about how his father, President George H. W. Bush (the 41st), lied to conservatives and American voters by saying he was a conservative and expressly stating he would not raise taxes, conservatives fear President George W. Bush (the 43rd) has done the same by failing to nominate well-known conservative, strict constructionists to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“President Bush has presided over the largest growth in government since Lyndon Johnson, and now he appears willing to lose all credibility with conservative voters by failing to fulfill his campaign vow to nominate an openly Scalia- or Thomas-like justice,” Viguerie concluded.

Conservatives are also exceedingly disappointed in the Republican Leadership in Congress as well. Conservatives will now begin to seriously consider why they should continue to give their support –money, labor, and votes – to Republican politicians who take their conservative base for granted by continually lying to them.

The Emerging Republican Base is pissed, as the National Journal's Beltway Blogroll reports:

Then came Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court today. The current White House counsel has never served as a judge; she apparently has no substantial paper trail that would enable conservatives to vet her record; and perhaps worst of all, she contributed money to Bush's 2000 nemesis, Democrat Al Gore, when Gore sought the presidency in 1988.

The rhetorical dam burst wide open after Bush announced her nomination, and the flood of criticism is thick with conservative voices.

Once again, Malkin is at the forefront. Numerous blogs are quoting her refrain: "What Julie Myers is to the Department of Homeland Security, Harriet Miers is to the Supreme Court." And Mike Krempasky of RedState said bluntly: "Mr. President, you've got some explaining to do. And please remember -- we've been defending you these five years because of this moment."

Right Thinking from the Left Coast eloquently connected the cronyism dots from Brown to Miers. "I'd like to take a moment to coin a new phrase: Brownie moment. A Brownie moment can be defined simply as the moment when a supporter of President Bush is smacked in the head by reality and loses any and all faith in the president from that moment forward. ... This was my Brownie moment," Lee wrote of the Miers nomination.

Bush made the type of cowardly move you would expect from a Lame Duck Chickenhawk. We'll see whether the GOP base sticks to their beliefs or is forced to stand by their failed President. Either way, the political entertainment value of Harriet Miers is significant.


WASHINGTON — President Bush's decision to nominate White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court shows that he isn't afraid to disappoint conservatives, prefers to promote trusted advisers and listens to his wife.

Not a good night to be a conservative.

Posted at 11:51 PM in Netroots, Republicans, Scandals | Technorati

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Is the love affair based on the similar first and last names? It's day two of the Miers nomination, and I have to say that I am heartened by a few things I've read. She gave money to the Gore... [Read More]

Tracked on October 4, 2005 07:50 AM