October 5, 2005


The Right's Dissed Intellectuals (Harold Meyerson, October 5, 2005, Washington Post)

You could cut the disappointment with a knife. "This is the moment for which the conservative legal movement has been waiting for two decades," David Frum, the right-wing activist and former Bush speechwriter, wrote on his blog a few moments after the president dashed conservative hopes by nominating Harriet Miers to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

Bypassing all manner of stellar Scalia look-alikes, the president settled on his own in-house lawyer, whose chief virtue seems to be that she's been the least visible lawyer in America this side of Judge Joseph Crater. Miers has authored no legal opinions that can be dissected, no Supreme Court briefs that can be parsed, no law review articles that can be torn apart.

Which, I suspect, is why her selection cuts so deep in right-wing circles. The problem isn't only that Miers is not openly a movement conservative but that she's as far from a public intellectual as anyone could possibly be. In one fell swoop, Bush flouted both his supporters' ideology and their sense of meritocracy.

Worse, he bypassed the opportunity to demonstrate their intellectual seriousness -- conservatism's intellectual seriousness.

Note how many of the guys yelping about the nomination have also tried distancing themselves from the Party's anti-Darwinism--tough to maintain intellectual pretenses in the anti-intellectual party of an anti-intellectual country

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2005 12:50 PM

The complainers want a big show-down fight. GWB doesn't want a fight, he wants a justice on the court who he trusts.

Can't you sense the disappointment? All up-armed and armored, and no dragon. How mortifying and angrifying.

Posted by: Mikey at October 5, 2005 1:04 PM

The intellectuals on the right forget how touch-and-go it was just to keep the Senate Republicans in line on the John Bolton nomination, when Bush was trying to appoint him to a post most Americans disdain, and where his main transgression appeared to have been acting mean to his staff. And while the big media outlets' power has been defanged to some extent, Katrina showed they still have the power to frame the issue, at least in the initial stages, for the general public in a breaking news event.

The Democrats and the interest groups on the left planned Armegeddon on any of the high-profile names, and would have had their fax machines and e-mail programs on hyperdrive defining that nominee as Bork II or worse before Bush ever stepped to the podium to make the formal announcement. It wouldn't be too hard to picture a pontificating Arlen Spector, weepy George Voinivich or a playing-for-'08 Chuck Hagel wilting under the pressure of a month-long assault on Luttig, Jones, Brown or some of the others.

Not taking up the challenge is a sign of weakness, but doing it this way appears to have distracted the left into making fun of the anger on the right instead of going after the nominee, while the Bush folks get several days to define Harriet Miers the way they want, and not the way NARAL, People for the American Way or the folks at the New York Times' op-ed page would have preferred to portray the nominee.

Posted by: John at October 5, 2005 1:33 PM

Harriet Souter?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 5, 2005 5:00 PM

Robert: Harriet's suitor? I thought that was how they've been identifying that Nathan Hecht guy...

Posted by: b at October 5, 2005 5:07 PM

Harriet Nelson? Good choice

Posted by: jdkelly at October 5, 2005 7:15 PM
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