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A conservative news and views blog.

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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Harriet Problem

Normally I love Rick Moran, but yesterday he had a
piece
in the American Thinker which evinced a lack of understanding of the reaction against the nomination of Harriet Miers, and is illustrative of a deeper division within the Republican party. Rick (and the others defending the President) just doesn`t seem to grasp where the anger is coming from, and seems genuinly puzzled by it. I found I could agree with very little in this essay.

He states;

Five long years of bitter partisan warfare, shocking tragedy, economic bust and boom, and a shooting war in Iraq, where the terrorists test our resolve to prevail every single day, produce a certain amount of stress.

THESE are not the causes of our disagreement. The anger bubbling to the surface on the right is caused by the PRESIDENT HIMSELF. President Bush has repeatedly failed us. He has chosen the broad and easy path repeatedly in the interest of his ``new tone``, and has refused to fight with his political enemies in order to take issues away from them. This strategy may work to stymie the Democrats politically, but it completely fails to advance the purposes for which he was elected-advancing the conservative agenda. The conservatives have (much like Web Hubble did for Clinton) had to ``roll over again for the White House`` time after time to strengthen the President`s political hand. The Supreme Court was the last straw; the President promised to give us the type of Justice we sought, and he has instead given us (again) a huge question mark.

Rick continues;

Then in the late 1980’s, conservatives fell victim to their own success, as the Cold War ended with astounding speed and the iron curtain fell. Politically speaking, these events started untying the part of the Reagan coalition that included what author Theodore H. White referred to as urban ethnics. These were white, middle class, blue collar, second and third generation immigrants, many with deep emotional and family ties to Eastern Europe, who were disgusted with the appeasement and unilateral disarmament policies of the McGovern-Carter wing of the Democratic party.

Economically liberal but socially conservative, they were bunched in an arc in what used to be referred to as The Rust Belt along the Great Lakes. Their support allowed Reagan to cut into Democratic strengths in the battleground states of the Midwest. Although considered natural Democrats due to their union affiliations, the political brain trust of the Reagan campaign successfully targeted them by appealing both to their patriotism and their unease with liberal values.


I have to disagree with his particular political analysis of the Reagan Revolution. A large part of the anger against Carter (and Ford and Nixon before him) stemmed from the failure of Keynesian economic theory, and we witnessed the abyssmal failure of liberal economic policies under Carter when we were treated to high taxes, stagnant economic growth, double digit inflation, double digit interest rates, and fuel shortages while Carter refused to consider cutting taxes and promised to bring gasoline prices up to European levels. This, combined with Carter`s buffoonish foreign policy (including the Hostage Crisis, the rise of communism in Latin America, Pol Pot, etc.) finally drove the Truman Democrats away from their increasingly leftish party. Bill Clinton brought them home not because they necessarily liked what he had to say, but because Bush 41 had purged Reaganism from the Republicans as well as broken his no-tax pledge, and the Reagan Democrats figured there was no point in voting ``Democrat Lite``. It was the move to the center which broke up the Reagan coalition. This was restored by Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America bunch. Bush 43 is in the process of doing precisely what his father did to the party.

Now we get to the heart of the matter;

While many activists are extremely unhappy with the choice of Miers and some conservative intellectuals have expressed opposition over her supposed lack of credentials, the question of supporting or opposing the nominee comes down to one, simple question.

How much do you trust George W. Bush?


First, trust has to be earned, and this President has done little to earn our trust-at least the kind of trust he is asking from us. Who signed McCain-Feingold? Who funded embryonic stem-cell research for the first time in history? Who keeps trying to foist off on us ``guest-worker`` status for illegal aliens, while refusing to enforce immigration laws and insulting free citizens when they try to patrol the border? Who signs every profligate spending bill sent to him? What exactly HAS the President done that proves he is conservative? He signed the tax cuts, he used to fight the war, he has PROPOSED a couple of conservative ideas like school choice and partial privatization of social security. He has allowed Ted Kennedy to write his education bill. Now he has allowed Harry Reid and company to pick his Supreme Court Justice. Tell me, why should we trust him?

Second, the Bush family has always valued loyalty, and Miss Miers has been extremely loyal to George W. Bush. This President is the type of man who would satisfy himself with her assurances because he wants to be loyal in return, and he assumes that she won`t change once on the Court. Why should we assume that? Is loyalty perhaps blinding the President? By all accounts Harriet Miers appears to be a rather, well, maybe not weak person, but a person who values collegiality and compromise. See this from David Frum, who has been on Harriet like fleas on a very shaggy dog. (Frum worked with Miss Miers and has been against her from the git-go.) How can we trust that Harriet will not only be what she and the President claim, but will remain so?

Here Rick shows he gets it in part, at least;

But now the right is faced with a nominee whose name was put forward as someone who would be acceptable to many of these same Democrats. For some, that is reason enough to oppose Miers.

This should be the absolute clincher; if the mainstream media and the kooks running the Democrats like her, she is bad news! The Dems and media aren`t able to contain themselves enough to trick us with support for her. They simply can`t do that! They are scorpions, and like the childrens fable they will sink themselves in the middle of the river because they can`t resist stinging.

He continues;

For others, it is proof that the President has caved in to certain political realities and has arrogantly ignored the advice of his allies, just to avoid a bruising partisan debate. There has even been talk that Miers should be opposed to teach the President a lesson or to purge her supporters who come from the more moderate wing of the party.

Rick calls this idiocy. He is dead wrong. Are we here to serve the pleasure of the President, or is he there to serve our interests? George W. Bush became president of the United States because of the conservative wing of the party. He owed us this nomination. He failed us. We cannot sit idly by and allow the RINOS to purge us from the Republicans, which is what has been happening-especially since Bush`s reelection. What value is there in supporting our president while he kicks us out of power? Political power is a means, not an end and the President was that means to the conservative movement. If he fails us we have every right to assert ourselves. Bush isn`t running for reelection, after all, and it`s fairly obvious that he no longer feels he needs to even pay lip-service to our wing of the party. How can we hold him accountable? We have every right to try!

All too often, conservatives have followed a feel good course of action and ignored what was possible or even necessary. This has resulted in Republicans devouring their own when it comes to Presidential governance. Only an iconic figure like Ronald Reagan could escape the fate of other Republican Presidents like Richard Nixon and George Bush 41, whose administrations were nearly torn apart by internecine battles between conservatives and pragmatists.

Uh, Rick, both Nixon and Bush 41 were from the country club wing. Neither of these guys were satisfactory, and if they took some heat they deserved it! Nixon gave us the foolish policies of Detente, wage and price controls, the ``face saving`` policies to end Vietnam rather than win, China, etc. Bush 41 was the man who called supply-side economics ``voodoo economics``, he gave us tax-increases, internationalism, etc. If by a pragmatist you mean a liberal Republican then I will fight them as surely as I will fight any Democrat because at the end of the day both will give us the same results. We`re in this to win on policy, not merely here for political victories. This isn`t about feeling good; it`s about succeeding.

Reagan’s stature was so Olympian in the conservative movement that any visible moves toward the center were blamed on the moderates around him. Let Reagan be Reagan was a plaintive, even juvenile cry, first uttered by Interior Secretary James Watt, but which became a battle hymn for movement conservatives who thought they saw apostasy in what was actually Reagan’s deftness and agility in pushing his programs through a heavily Democratic Congress.

Reagan had proven his conservativism to us repeatedly through tax cuts, his destruction of the Soviet Union, his gutting of liberal beaurocracies. Bush has cut taxes and, well, cut taxes. He has GROWN government. He has increased spending massively, has not removed a single executive order of Bill Clinton`s, has signed every piece of legislation sent to him by Congress, and he has done it all WITH A REPUBLICAN MAJORITY IN BOTH HOUSES!! Reagan HAD to play political games to get his way-Bush has everything Reagan could ever have wanted but has been too timid to use it.

For the conservative true believers however, this is the crisis of the Bush presidency. No amount of stroking by Bush aides is going to assuage their disappointment. In this respect, it remains to be seen if these disappointed activists will fall on their swords once again in a futile gesture of defiance by staying home on Election Day, 2006. If they do so, and if they hand the election to the Democrats, there could be a real bloodletting among conservatives that could split Republicans for a generation and perhaps even give impetus to the creation of a third party

I fear that President Bush has already split the party, and this nomination has merely been the final snowflake which triggered the avalanche. The Bush Administration has become increasingly RINO, and the President has broken faith with those who have put him in power. What does that mean? I don`t see that many conservatives actually walking, but they will be less enthusiastic, less willing to give money, less willing to go the extra mile. The Country Club wing (and President Bush appears more and more to be a member-just like his father) has regained control, and the conservatives are going to find it difficult to back this bunch of losers-and that is what they have traditionally been! Third parties are a pretty bad idea from an historical perspective, but they HAVE succeeded in the past-at the expense of one of the established parties. Whatever happened to George Washington`s Federalist party? The Whigs? These parties disintegrated and new parties formed. The time may come when the conservatives walk, and the Republicans become a footnote in history.

One must ask the question about how things will play out if Harriet Miers goes on the court. William Rehnquist was at the core of the conservative wing of the court, and even if Roberts turns out to be as conservative as Rehnquist (hey, I`ve got this nice bridge to sell you) he will be a new Chief Justice, one who has been put there over the heads of every other sitting Justice. He will HAVE to ingratiate himself with all of the gang, and he isn`t going help form a conservative clique. HE is going to be courting the liberals! So, we are left with Scalia and Thomas. Scalia does not seem to be the type of man who will take Harriet under his wing and mentor her, and I don`t think Clarence Thomas alone will be able to create a conservative wing of the court. This may sound like analysis of high school, but it is human nature. Meanwhile, Harriet Miers will go on the court knowing that the conservatives didn`t really want her there. What is the natural human tendency in that case? Remember David Brock? He switched from hard right writer at the American Spectator to crying libby when conservatives didn`t like his ``Hillary the Diva`` book. Thomas is another example; I suspect he would not have been as conservative if he hadn`t been Borked by the left. So, Miss Meirs is going to face powerful forces pulling her to the left side of the court while there will be a limited social dynamic which will compel her toward the conservative end. Meanwhile, Harriet will feel slighted by the conservatives. She will know that the Democrats were the ones pulling for her nomination. She will have sympathies for the leftward tilt. Is she strong enough, or committed enough, to withstand this pressure for decades?

I knew the President was going to have to do something like this when he used the same strategy with Roberts. He has backed himself into a corner, and if he gets another nomination he will NEVER be able to nominate a strong conservative; he has set a precedent. The Democrats will filibuster, and succeed because they will not have filibustered the first two nominees. Why did the Dem`s make that devils-pact with McCain and company in the first place? Because they knew that public patience with the filibustering was running out, and they had to win politically what they couldn`t stop any longer. Had Bush acted boldly at that point the whole rotten structure would have fallen, and the Democrats would either have tried a filibuster and seen it collapse or the Republicans would have been able to launch the nukes and end that particular nonsense. It was a win-win situation, but the President managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. He is now so boxed in he has no hope of ever getting out. I`m not so sure that he really wants to! He seems very happy to get along with his enemies, while he seems to have no trouble sticking it to his friends.

Even if Harriet Miers proves to be a superb jurist, I fear that the damage done by the President to our party and our movement is going to be very, very difficult to repair.

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5 Comments:

Blogger TJ Willms said...

Today Laura Bush has added “sexism” to the litany of reasons conservatives are opposing Harriet. Hell, I’d oppose her on a charge of eye make-up abuse. She is not the solid nominee this court, this country, or the Republican Party needed right now. This was a huge opportunity missed to reassert the validity of conservatism in the wake of the Democrat engineered and media facilitated histrionics over the “botched reaction” to hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans.

The President, weary from the constant pummeling from the left for something he didn’t have any real responsibility for turned to the “moderates” he has surrounded himself with and proceeded to alienate those he should have turned to for the support he needed. Instead he is now getting pummeled by his friends for making another weak-kneed decision that has reduced the Republican party and the conservative movement to which he owes so much into the appearance of being just as hysterically emotional over the Miers pick as the left were over the “Federal” disaster response.

He either doesn’t believe or has forgotten that conservatism works every time it’s tried. The left cannot win in “the arena of ideas” that is why the courts are so vital to them. The ballot box has given the left one defeat after another on values issues and only the courts activism has slowed this movement to the right of the entire country.
Any remaining “Political Capital” Dubya had after the 2004 elections went up in flames on the pyre of the Miers nomination. Conservative candidates are going to start distancing themselves from the Bush White House because he is single handedly undermining the very real gains conservatism has brought to America.


He has only delayed the inevitable confrontation on court nominations to a time when the support for it may not be as solid. This fight needs to happen! Americans were sick to death of the constant filibustering of qualified judicial nominees solely on ideological grounds. The gang of 14 “moderates” slipped the dagger into Bush’s back and now he has passed it on to the only supporters he had left.

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Jo macDougal said...

He burned up his capital back in Mar when he took a sharp left turn. The las 8 months he has been a big government liberal.
His poll #'s started falling then and hit bottom 5 weeks ago at 40% - 42% depending on poll. His numbers have stayed there the last 9 days with Meirs (based on ABC and CNN polls).
Bush has been trying to win over liberals since Bolton. Like his father did with all the new taxes and tax hikes he put in place from 1990 - 1993. In both cases the be a liberal strategy has failed.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous rod stanton said...

Actually I think W's liberal leadership failure should have been evident to him and Rove by the end of Aug when he was at 40%. Instead they decided to go even more liberal with the Katrina speech early Sep. He looked and sounded like Jimmy Carter - "The problem was caused because we did not have enough quotas. We can solve the problem by more government interference and more quotas."

The rumors on the net are that Miers is a big fan of quotas. It should not be a shock W named her after the Jimmy Carter speech.

But Jo is right his #'s were bad 3 weeks before Meirs and in the 10 days since have remained constant. For every liberal he gets he loses a conservative.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Tom, Thanks for a brilliant comment (as always)!

Welcome Jo and Rod!

I couldn`t agree more! You are absolutely correct; Bush should have learned his lesson from his dropping poll numbers, but he seems to have concluded it was because he has been TOO conservative!

2:59 PM  
Anonymous rod stanton said...

I posted a comment here yesterday that was incorrect. I said that W's approval rating had held steady at 40% for 6 weeks after the Roberts nomination and was not changed by the Meirs nomination. Yesterday NBC released a new poll showning his approval has fallen to 39%. So 2 weeks after Meirs he has fallen a little bit more.
The real problem seems to get overlooked. That is his approval rating started falling when he made the sharp left turn in Mar. It held at 40% for 6 weeks after Roberts and has now dropped 1% more. Like his father the big government liberal policies gain 2 liberals for every 3 conservatives they chase away. **This is very bad news for the GOP! Remember 1992 when Bush 1 chased all the conservtives out of the GOP and Bill won with only 41%! THe only hope the GOP has for 06 is if bush withdraws Miers and nominates Janice Rogers Brown in her stead. But given how liberal he has become that is not very likely. Bad news.**

5:11 AM  

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