Thursday, October 13, 2005

You Gotta Have Faith
Harriet the Judge

Two major conservative columnists--John Fund of the WSJ and David Brooks of the NYT--have pieces on SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers. Fund's piece--How She Slipped Through--is less an opinion piece (though it's certainly laced with opinion) and more a behind-the-scenes view of how this nomination got to see the light of day (with dubious vetting and objections coming from surprising places). It's a very good read, but here are the most interesting two grafs:

Indeed, even internal advice was shunned. Mr. Card is said to have shouted down objections to Ms. Miers at staff meetings. A senator attending the White House swearing-in of John Roberts four days before the Miers selection was announced was struck by how depressed White House staffers were during discussion of the next nominee. He says their reaction to him could have been characterized as, "Oh brother, you have no idea what's coming."

A last minute effort was made to block the choice of Ms. Miers, including the offices of Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It fell on deaf ears. First Lady Laura Bush, who went to Southern Methodist University at the same time as Ms. Miers, weighed in. On Sunday night, the president dined with Ms. Miers and the first lady to celebrate the nomination of what one presidential aide inartfully praised to me as that of "a female trailblazer who will walk in the footsteps of President Bush."

Brooks goes for the intellectualized jugular with his piece, where he rips Miers a new one for the "pedestrian" quality of her writing for The Texas Bar Journal when she was president of that organization. (The column is, of course, hidden behind NYT's Times Select firewall, but if you have access, here's the link.)

Of course, we have to make allowances for the fact that the first job of any association president is to not offend her members. Still, nothing excuses sentences like this:

"More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."

Or this: "We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism."

And he goes on to offer three more examples before getting to his point:
I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers's prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things.


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