Tuesday, October 04, 2005

In which the Meridian weighs in on the enigma that is Harriet Miers' nomination

I read, but almost never comment on, "political" blogs; I usually don't have enough insight into the issues at hand to feel as though I have anything of value at hand to contribute; besides, the Comments sections are so rife with the noxious blend of partisanship and paranoia that, even if I feel I DO have something to contribute, I fear no one would listen.

But this morning, I read this post on Harriet Miers on Steve Clemons' excellent blog about foreign policy issues, Washington Note, and I felt compelled to comment because I felt a) I had an insight (finally) into a reason why Bush nominated Miers and b) Clemons' blog tends to draw thoughtful readers who at least have the courtesy to wipe the foam off their mouths BEFORE posting.

Here's my comment:

This paragraph is deeply unsettling:

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, yesterday held a conference call with conservative leaders to address their concerns about Miers. He stressed Bush's close relationship with Miers and the need to confirm a justice who will not interfere with the administration's management of the war on terrorism, according to a person who attended the teleconference.

Granted, it sounds like a specious argument. But, given that the Court is almost certain to hear cases involving the Patriot Act, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib before 2008, and given that Miers, in her role as White House Counsel, is certainly intimately familar with the "torture memos" and other policies regarding those protocols, Miers would have to recuse herself from those cases and, thus, literally not interfere with the particulars of the War on Terror. Someone will have to remind me what the Court does if only eight justices hear a case and they reach a 4-4 deadlock.

In any case, if we are to take Mehlman's argument at face value, then Miers' nomination has nothing to do with the prosecution of justice but only with a maintaining of the status quo--not the Court's, but that of the Executive Branch. All the more reason, it seems to me, for all those who have doubts about this adminstration to oppose this nomination.

I don't know whether any of my readers will find this to be helpful in their thinking about Miers or about the direction of the Court or, in larger terms, what its function in government should be. But for myself, at least, Mehlman's rationale for accepting this nomination gave me an "A-ha" moment that I'd not had before. And now her nomination seems much less bone-headed than before, and far more ominous with regard to what the current administration might possibly be willing to do in order to preserve its policies and its grip on power.

Update: Andrew Sullivan concurs.

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fearful_syzygy said...

Thanks for the link to the Sullivan page. Perhaps because at the end of last week I attended a translation studies conference here, which at times had an extremely political edge to it (witness the Phraselator), I was shocked and horrified by this post. I'm in a foul mood now.

Cheers, John!

John B. said...

Yeah--my country's government does not seem to understand that literally being able to understand those who would seek to do us harm is a necessary first step in protecting ourselves from them.
Welcome to my country.