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A good choice

By Bruce Walker
web posted October 10, 2005

Doubtless many conservatives grumble, mumble and will grumble and mumble more about the selection of a bland, safe, uncontroversial nominee, Harriet Miers, to fill the seat of Sandra Day O'Connor as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. There is no need to worry and much cause to be quietly content.

Harriet Miers and George W. BushIs Miers a "true conservative"? Believing that she may be a closet Leftist requires believing that she, herself, is dishonest about her beliefs (and her entire life suggests honor.) It requires believing that President Bush, who is fiercely loyal and inspires fierce loyal, cannot size people up well (and his political career suggests exactly the opposite.) It requires believing that a sixty year old woman from the most conservative big state in the nation, Texas, will suddenly be overawed by Washington (while it has more often been Texans who overawed Washington.)

The choice was very good politics, and it is vital for conservatives to remember that undoing seventy years of Leftism will not be done overnight, so medium and long term politics matters. Why is it good politics? It is for several reasons.

First, Sandra Day O'Connor – now lionized by the Left – wanted a woman to replace her and she got a woman to replace her, moreover, she got a single woman to replace her. Just as President Bush has shown himself willing to win Hispanic voters, he is showing himself willing to win single women voters. This selection will not cause an avalanche, but it will create positive motion.

Second, this has divided and demoralized the Left much more than conservatives. The Minority Leader, who recommended her, will have to support her. The confirmation process will be easy, civil and relatively quick. But there will doubtless be twenty or so Senate Democrats who will feel compelled to vote against her (voting against her is like voting against President Bush and voting for her is like voting for President Bush.)

Senators from red states will have to vote for her. Relatively moderate Democrats, like Joe Lieberman, will have to vote for her. A confirmation in which all of the Republican majority votes for confirmation and half of the Democrat minority votes for confirmation puts those who vote against her in a very precarious position when they run for president. How could Evan Bayh or Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, for example, claim to be part of the mainstream if they are part of that small twenty percent of the Senate who will vote against her? But if all these Democrats vote for her, then the "red meat" Left will become very angry and will stay home and close their wallets in the next election cycle.

Third, the easy confirmation of both Roberts and Miers will make it very difficult for the Left to go into hysterics the next time President Bush makes a Supreme Court nomination, and he could easily appoint two more justices (Stevens and Kennedy, most likely) before his term ends. Moreover, a civil and smooth confirmation process actually makes it more likely that other Supreme Court justices will retire.

Fourth, all of this has been done without conservatives surrendering the right to oppose any future Supreme Court nominee by a Leftist president on the grounds that the nominee is too Leftist. The minority opposing Roberts and who will oppose Miers has created the precedent that senators need not vote for honorable, intelligent, distinguished nominees if those senators disagree or – and this is crucial – if they suspect that the nominee will hold opinions contrary to the political philosophy of the senator.

That is a major victory. What that means is no more Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Stephen Breyer confirmations, perhaps ever. Thirty-one states are comfortably red states, and that will translate (indeed, is translating every election) into an ideologically conservative Senate.

Fifth, this will also mean that conservatives can vote against any suspected Leftist or closet Leftist nominee without having to question the integrity, competence or qualifications of the nominee, and that issues of race and gender will also be irrelevant, as the rancor over the possible nomination of Janice Rogers Brown has shown.

It is a victory, but like so many of political victories of this president, it is a victory that his enemies have not yet grasped. What we are seeing is political genius – honorable, conservative and brave – but also genius. Winning is winning. The good guys are winning.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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