Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Deliberate Speed 

Odd, isn't it, that when a vacancy opens on the Supreme Court, and the President finally has the chance to nominate a Scalia-style lusus naturae as a sop to the snake-handling theocratic droolers who put him in office, he picks Harriet Miers instead. What exactly do we know about Ms. Miers -- a stealth nominee so damned stealthy that she gives most observers, including the put-upon Birchers and fetus-worshipping crackers who comprise Mr. Bush's rapidly dwindling base, a case of the galloping jimjams?

A) She is so patently unqualified for the job that she invites -- no, demands -- comparisons to another overmatched Bush appointee, former FEMA head Michael Brown, whose history of distinguished public service the administration is surely not keen, just now, to dredge up;

B) She is, however, unlikely to raise much of a ruckus among Senate Democrats, who are no doubt deeply relieved that they will not have to use and/or lose the filibuster in a bootless effort to derail the confirmation of Priscilla Owen or some comparable ogress. Instead they can sit back (as is their wont), relax (as is their wont), and enjoy the admittedly gratifying spectacle of Mr. Bush's excoriation by the same evangelical leaders who were singing his praises (in a tongue we did not recognize) mere weeks ago at Justice Sundays I and II. Therefore,

C) Ms. Miers is likely to be confirmed in swift and expeditious fashion. Which is, we suspect, the most attractive thing about her.

A couple of days ago we quoted, half in jest, a comment from Hullabaloo suggesting that Judy Miller spent three months in jail as a favor to the White House, to prevent Patrick Fitzgerald from handing down indictments in the Plame case until John G. Roberts could be installed as Chief Justice. (Our eminent colleague Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake endorses the same hypothesis here, and reinforces it with a link to Steve Perry of the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages here.) After all, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is up on three separate charges with more to come, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is inquiring about the availability of Martha Stewart's old cell, and Messrs. Libby and Rove are surely tired of glancing upward at the sword and waiting for the single horsehair to snap. The President's father, as he left office, slipped the noose that special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh had prepared for him by pardoning anyone who could testify to his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal as he left; Bush the younger may not have the luxury of waiting until the end of his term. Looking at Harriet Miers, and Harriet Miers's anemic C.V., and the right wing's bitter reaction to Harriet Miers's nomination, it is increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that Mr. Bush, for reasons best known to himself, means to pack the Court with presidential-jock-sniffers.

What are Ms. Miers's qualifications again? As Mr. Bush keeps explaining, he knows her heart. And that heart, we're betting, is practically brimming over with leniency for Mr. Bush, should he need it.

In the event, say, of a looming constitutional crisis.

(Graphic, from Extreme Makeover: Supreme Court Edition, courtesy of Zemblan patriot C.K.D.)

UPDATE (via Firedoglake): the New York Sun has published the text of a leaked letter to Scooter Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, in which special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald subtly coerces an uncoerced waiver of confidentiality out of Mr. Libby.

UPDATE II: The conservative group Public Advocate for the United States called Ms. Miers's nomination "a betrayal of the conservative, pro-family voters whose support put Bush in the White House." Media Matters profiles the candidate Public Advocate would have preferred.

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