Monday, October 24, 2005

Not the Same Old Song?
Harriet the Judge

We've heard something similar to this line (as reported by the NYTimes) in relation to the last SCOTUS nominee, John Roberts, and his paper trail while working in the White House (back during Bush the Elder's administration):
President Bush categorically refused today to consider giving senators any documents related to the work of his Supreme Court nominee, Harriet E. Miers, as White House counsel.

"It's a red line I'm not willing to cross," Mr. Bush said. His flat refusal raised the stakes for Ms. Miers's Senate confirmation hearings, set to begin two weeks from now, as the president seemed to acknowledge.

"People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people being able to watch - walk into the Oval Office and say: 'Mr. President, here's my advice to you. Here's what I think is important.'

"And that's not only important for this president, it's important for future presidents," Mr. Bush said after meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.

But Salon's War Room has a theory that this might all be gamesmanship moving toward a withdrawl of Harriet Miers' nomination:
When George W. Bush was asked this morning about a report that the White House is thinking through contingency plans for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination, he responded with what we thought was a non sequitur: Rather than confirming or denying the report, the president said that he will refuse to release documents reflecting the advice Miers has given him as a member of his White House staff.

It wasn't an answer to the question he was asked, but -- as a War Room reader notes -- maybe it wasn't quite the non sequitur we thought it was, either. In a column last week, Charles Krauthammer laid out a face-saving exit strategy for the White House: Senators demand documents from Miers' White House tenure; the president refuses to turn over the documents on executive privilege or attorney-client privilege grounds; the senators say that, in light of her scant record elsewhere, they can't consider Miers' nomination without seeing her White House documents; Miers, faced with an irreconcilable conflict between the Senate and the president, puts the good of the nation above her own desires and graciously withdraws her nomination.
At his Cabinet meeting this morning, the president all but blurted out that he wouldn't and couldn't turn over such documents without jeopardizing the ability of future presidents to hear frank advice and "to make sound decisions."

And like clockwork, the mainstream press is now reporting that a "document snag" is threatening to "scuttle" Miers' nomination. Maybe this is all just coincidence. Maybe Krauthammer was tipped off to a plan already in the works. Or maybe, with Karl Rove distracted by other matters, the president is taking advice from wherever he can find it.


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