October 13, 2005


What Might Have Been: The Miers nomination didn't have to go this way. (Fred Barnes, 10/12/2005, Weekly Standard)

WHAT DOES A PRESIDENT owe his followers, especially on issues that may have caused them to back him in the first place? And what do followers owe their president, particularly on matters where his commitment to their common agenda is unclear? These questions need to be considered in light of the conservative revolt against President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

Let's start with Bush. What's his obligation to his supporters, the majority of them conservatives? I think it's quite simple: on major issues, he must do what he promised to do. He's obligated to cut taxes and not turn around and raise them later. He's required to pursue the war on Islamic jihadism without cease, as he vowed after 9/11. And on the courts, he must appoint judicial conservatives who may not be exact replicas of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas but are at least roughly in their mold. These are core promises.

Should the president renege on them, his faithful followers have every right to protest. In the case of the elder President Bush, they did just that when he abandoned his promise not to raise taxes. The tax pledge had been a core promise. And the senior Bush paid a high political price, losing reelection. But he brought it on himself. His supporters had every right to jump ship.

Many Republicans who support the current President Bush are mad at him for signing a Medicare prescription drug benefit into law. And they're upset that he's expanded the role of the Education Department. But he'd promised to do both. So he was fulfilling promises, not breaking them. As for signing the campaign finance reform bill, that may have been a mistake, but he hadn't promised to veto it.

The issue now is filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court with someone who would shift the ideological balance to the right. This is a critical concern because a conservative replacement could achieve exactly that. And the president has insisted that in naming Miers, his White House counsel, he's picked a judicial conservative, though one without a track record on constitutional issues.

How should Bush's followers have responded?

Shouldn't he have just e-mailed this to Bill Kristol?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 13, 2005 12:02 PM

Hard to tell which Harriet Miers is going to show up at the hearings based on the recent postings by Barnes' friends in the pundit world -- the female Elmer Gantry or the female Lenny from "Of Mice and Men".

Posted by: John at October 13, 2005 2:37 PM

The conservative pundits/bloggers have devolved into KOS/DU land in their efforts to discredit Miers. Over at another site they are arguing that she is disqualified because she didn't join the Federalist society. Or because back in 1990 she didn't trash the NAACP on a questionaire.
Let's see how she does at the hearings and go from there.

Posted by: AWW at October 13, 2005 3:32 PM

Spanky says she's disqualified because she wasn't in the He Man Woman Hater Club when she was 7.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 3:52 PM

Or how about this one where some lawsuit in 1989 provides a bit of "paper trail" in which so many of these people are desperately in love. Yep, no one changes their views over the better part of two decades, except when the "grow in office".

(And can you imagine the real uproar if she were to just say that " I was wrong back then"?)

With rightwing pundits acting like Kossacks or one of Ted Kennedy's relatives, no wonder we have to have "stealth" candidates, to protect the nominee from the people who are supposed to be on their side.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 13, 2005 4:02 PM

Yet it moves.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 13, 2005 9:43 PM