Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Miers murdered by murder boards

By Aussiegirl

In the end Miers was murdered by the murder boards and by her own failure to impress senators. The more she met with them, the worse their impression of her was. In addition, once Republicans joined the document request for White House papers it became clear that the situation was at an impasse. The president would not release those papers, and senators were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the complete lack of information about her. She simply could not stand up to the questioning in the murder boards and the administration feared she would not survive the hearings. Frist also delivered the news that he doubted that she could get a majority vote. In addition, the fellow she fired from the lottery board was released from his confidentiality agreement and was set to testify, which would have opened up the entire Ben Barnes/Nat'l Guard service can of worms at the hearings (one reason the democrats were so downcast yesterday - they lost their opportunity to grandstand over presidential papers and the "scandals" in Texas).

Even if the conservative voices in the media had kept quiet about Miers, her nomination would have sunk of its own weight. In the end, it became clear from her own writings and her own performance in the murder boards that she was simply not up to the task. It got so bad that they refused to call in outside lawyers to do some of the test questioning as is usually the case. The more she met with senators the worse impression she made. Even Republican senators predisposed to liking her found her to be not up to speed on the simplest constitutional issues. Frist had to go to the White House and deliver the news that increasingly it looked unlikely that she would even win a majority vote. Eventually even the person chosen to shepherd her through the process withdrew his support. Even Dobson at the end was saying he doubted his initial endorsement. Her nomination simply fell apart.

And the world will not end because of this. The president will nominate a new candidate, hopefully one who has been thoroughly vetted and who has solid credentials.

The final kicker seemed to be her 1993 speech in which she supported judicial activism when legislatures fail to act and also claimed that there were (in paraphrase) "two justice systems -- one for whites and another for minorities" -- making her sound more like John Edwards than Antonin Scalia. In the speech she criticized the fact that minority defendants faced majority white juries, a position which would seem to indicate that she felt that race should be taken into account in the seating of juries, and perhaps a quota system put in place which takes into account the race of the defendant and the race of the jurors. This is completely outside any remotely mainstream and logical reasoning, and instead betrays a fuzzy-headed emotional outlook on outcomes rather than legal process and precedent. In addition, the simple language and syntax of the speech betrayed a mind which is not grappling with complex or even simple legal principles or ideas in any kind of coherent or intelligent way.

In sum, if Miers nomination had proceeded to the hearing stage it would have been a disaster. She would either have been reluctantly voted down in a humiliating defeat for a president with a majority in the senate, or she would have been approved with a slim majority out of embarrassment and deference to the president. In either case the outcome would have been far more damaging than the face-saving withdrawal based on the irreconcilable problem of release of presidential papers.

Miers nomination plagued by missteps - washingtonpost.com Highlights - MSNBC.com

For Harriet Miers, the "murder boards" were aptly named. Day after day in a room in the Justice Department, colleagues from the Bush administration grilled her on constitutional law, her legal background and her past speeches in practice sessions meant to mimic Senate hearings.

Her uncertain, underwhelming responses left her confirmation managers so disturbed they decided not to open up the sessions to the friendly outside lawyers they usually invite to participate in prepping key nominees.

It was clear that Miers was going to need to "hit a grand slam homer" before the Senate Judiciary Committee to win confirmation to the Supreme Court, as one adviser to the White House put it. "Her performance at the murder boards meant that people weren't confident she'd get the grand slam."

For Harriet Miers, the "murder boards" were aptly named. Day after day in a room in the Justice Department, colleagues from the Bush administration grilled her on constitutional law, her legal background and her past speeches in practice sessions meant to mimic Senate hearings.

Her uncertain, underwhelming responses left her confirmation managers so disturbed they decided not to open up the sessions to the friendly outside lawyers they usually invite to participate in prepping key nominees

It was clear that Miers was going to need to "hit a grand slam homer" before the Senate Judiciary Committee to win confirmation to the Supreme Court, as one adviser to the White House put it. "Her performance at the murder boards meant that people weren't confident she'd get the grand slam."

By nearly all accounts, the 24 days of the Miers nomination was hobbled by a succession of miscalculations. President Bush bypassed his own selection process to pick Miers, his onetime personal lawyer and White House counsel since February. His aides ignored warnings by some of the administration's closest conservative allies that she would prove difficult to confirm, and took for granted that its base would ultimately stick with the president.

And in perhaps the biggest misjudgment, Bush assumed that Miers would somehow shine in a Washington klieg light she had never before faced.

It did not take a call from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to convince the White House that Miers's nomination was in trouble. By the time Miers withdrew her name from consideration yesterday morning, her own colleagues had all but despaired of rescuing her nomination. With top Bush aides facing possible indictment as early as today, the White House concluded that it was time to move on and brace for the more threatening crisis.

2 Comments:

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

You`ve got it!

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger TJ Willms said...

As soon as I heard about her "two justice systems" speech I was convinced Harriet was a goner. I was under whelmed with her from the start but that foolhardy statement was the clincher.

Its too bad "Dubya" had to do this to HER and to US just to find out that he was still capable of making a really bad decision.

If George wants to be angry and petulant about what happened to Harriet I think he aught to start listening to you and bring on Judge Bork if he is agreeable.

This move would allow him to galvanize his base behind a superior candidate and it would have an added benefit for “Dubya.” He could take out his anger on the real cause of this fiasco, the U. S. senate. Both party’s actions in undermining the presidential prerogative of choosing court nominees has lead to all this “stealth” nonsense in the first place. Its time now for George to stand the entire Washington political order firmly on its ear and nuke 'em in the senate. He has backed himself into a corner and if he is a “real Texan” he should come out swinging. Lets just hope he can still distinguish friend from foe and doesn’t beat up those who have tried so hard to help him by mistake.

Great post Aussiegirl, it dovetails nicely with what Tim had posted on Birdblog.

 

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