Monday, October 03, 2005

fun with miers

i have to admit, i am loving this miers nomination. and it's not because i like the ring of the phrase "supreme court justice miers." i love a good supreme court nomination fight no matter who's involved, and this one looks like it could turn into a good one.

i must admit i was feeling a little bit left out when i realized that i would be in syria for the roberts hearings. but as far as i could tell i really didn't miss anything. senators pushing each other to get to the front of the line to lick a nominee's boots is not something i really need to see. maybe it wasn't that bad. i was really out of the loop when it happened. but i got the distinct impression that the roberts hearings were pretty damn dull.

but miers is completely different. it promises to be interesting on a number of different levels. first, her qualifications for the job are not all that clear (which is to say that she's probably not). a debate over what makes a qualified justice is an inherently good thing. i doubt there will be such a high-minded debate in reality, but it should be in the background enough for someone to occasionally raise it as the "real issue" even as most of the coverage focuses on sexier things. besides, i'm interested in knowing what miers' defenders think a completely unqualified nominee looks like.

second, miers is linked to the bush draft-dodging story. the story has been around for a while, and it was effectively discredited in the eyes of much of the public with last year's dan rather forgery scandal. the liberal blogisphere has been grumbling ever since that most of the evidence had nothing to do with the forgery (and they're right IMHO), but the bushies used the forgery to paint the entire allegation as a fabrication. because of miers' involvement there is a slight (and only slight) chance that the nomination could undo some of last year's discrediting. that's probably just wishful thinking, but what a nice wish that is.

third, movement conservatives hate miers. she did commit the unpardonable offense of donating money to some democrat 17 years ago. plus harry reid likes her. mahablog lists some of the wingnutosphere's reaction. it promises to be a lot of fun if the right turns against bush in force during the nomination process. there seems to be a general feeling over there that they can put up with bush falling short on other things, but dammit he owes them a crazy ghengis khan-style conservative when it comes to a supreme court nomination. that's what they elected him for, after all.

and finally, a drawn out confirmation fight would do three important things:

(1) it would (temporarily) stall the court's increasingly rightward drift. with the medium-conservative o'conner vote missing, the balance of power on the court is slightly farther to the left than it has been for a while, and is likely to be for years. the longer the confirmation fight drags on, the decisions coming out of the court will be slightly less conservative than what we've been used to.

(2) a long confirmation fight could paralyze the senate. which means less crazy shit like making tax cuts permanent, private accounts for social security, etc. personally i welcome wasting as much of the senate's time as possible, at least until after next year's election.

(3) a failed nominee, or even just an embattled one, will probably erode more of the president's support. i'm not sure how much more. his approval ratings are pretty low. and there is a core of people who will support him no matter what, so there's a limit of how far it can drop. i don't think we're quite there yet. but we may be pretty close. i still think that leaves a couple more percentage points to shave off just for fun.