It’s not that Harriet Miers has never served as a judge. Dozens of U.S. Supreme Court Justices, some of them quite distinguished, were also recruited from somewhere other than the bench. Seems like a good idea to me to have a few civilians up there.
Problem is, Harriet Miers is a nobody. Just a loyal toady and handservant to the President who appointed her. Can this even pass the giggle test?
Let’s have a little contest. Read the partial editorial below and guess who wrote it:
"President Bush struck a blow for diversity on the Supreme Court by picking White House Counsel Harriet Miers as his latest nominee. Bush thus made a strong statement that the Court has room for highly distinguished justices and not-so-distinguished justices, for nominees who have made their reputations in the wider legal world and for nominees people have hardly heard of, for world-class lawyers and for lawyers he happens to know and like.
After the nomination of John Roberts, Bush boosters hailed the president for bucking the political imperative of selecting a woman or a minority and for instead caring above all about high qualifications. They now have to take all that back. We don’t know much yet about Harriet Miers, except that she is the anti-Roberts, a nominee whose credentials are less than sterling and whose qualifications for the Court are less than obvious.
It might turn out that she is an outstanding justice. But there is no way for anyone besides President Bush’s immediate circle to know it. Of course, other Supreme Court justices have come without experience on the bench. Chief Justice Earl Warren was governor of California. Harriet Miers was “an elected member of the Dallas City Council,” as Bush put it in his announcement of her nomination.
Watching Bush strain to pump up her accomplishments was cringe-making. He said she has tried cases “before state and federal courts”! She has “argued appeals that covered a broad range of matters”! She was head of the Texas Lottery Commission and “insisted on a system that was fair and honest”! She was a leader with Child Care Dallas, Meals on Wheels, and other charitable groups! She has a law degree! From Southern Methodist University! …
…Democrats have an interesting choice. They can accept Miers on the theory that as an unknown quantity she is the best they can hope for from Bush, given that his short list included well-established, intellectually hefty conservatives. Or they can try to deal Bush a blow by attacking her as a crony. If they choose the first course and Miers votes as a down-the-line conservative on the Court, Bush’s pick will, over time, be seen as politically canny. Now it looks like the latest act of an overly insular, increasingly off-key White House.
So wrote that? Frank Rich? Paul Krugman? Bob Herbert? Um… guess again.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum posts a nifty compendium of conservative disillusionment with GW Bush. It's worth taking a look.