Do Conservatives Trust Bush?
Capt. Ed Morrissey's remarks on Harriet Miers are well placed, insofar as the White House has given us nothing by which to gauge her. But I disagree that her nomination is a broken promise by the President. Rather, it is one that conservatives cannot readily verify.
And that opens an interesting question: With all of this desire to vet the nominee for ourselves, did conservatives trust Bush in the first place?
Both the 2000 and 2004 campaigns were concerned with the judiciary, and for good reason. Leftist activist judges have been enacting through opinions the ACLU-left's agenda. It was clear to all that the stakes were and remain high. Either our government of laws loses all integrity as our foundational document loses its meaning with each swipe of the pen of a liberal judge, or we staff the benches of our federal courts with men and women who will apply, not recast the laws of our land.
Bush knows this better than anyone. He saw his father get burned by a judge who turned out to be a liberal sleeper. He saw Reagan have to settle for the increasingly troubling Anthony Kennedy when he tried to appoint Robert Bork. He watched Bill Clinton appoint an ACLU attorney, and he watched the entire court deliberate over whether Al Gore's standardless recount plan in Florida was fair. His understanding of the gravity of this appointment is clear.
And while it gives one pause to think that Harry Reid somehow found this nominee acceptable, we need to look at the bigger picture.
As Newt Gingrich noted, Bush has been true to every campaign promise he made, and even to promises made outside the campaign. He promised to cut taxes and did. He promised to chase down terrorists after 9/11 and did. He promised to invade Afghanistan if it did not turn over Osama bin Laden, and when they refused, he did. He promised to attack Iraq if Saddam and his sons did not step down, and if access to their weapons programs was not given, and he did. He promised education reform, and passed a bill that caused public schools to finally adhere to minimum standards, imposing penalties if they don't.
And he promised conservative originalist judges like Scalia and Thomas. And he delivered Roberts, a known conservative. Notwithstanding the evaluation by Morrissey which I felt was a more than a bit unfair to Roberts, he is the right man for the job. Granted, his paper trail was thin, but that may have made him more attractive to Bush. An impeccable professional record and very few controversial rulings made him an attractive nominee, leaving the Democrats with few issues of substance upon which to base a reasonable opposition to his nomination. In the end, he was easily confirmed.
And Miers will be too. At this point, given that Karl Rove made the mistake of talking to James Dobson who tipped the Administration's hand that Miers is a sleeper conservative whom the left would find unacceptable, Bush's quiet strategy may be becoming a bit clearer.
I have argued that perhaps Miers is a reliable conservative whom the Harry Reid and the Democrats have underestimated given various factors, chief among which is her previous Democratic party identification and a 1988 donation to then-conservative Democrat Senator Al Gore.
But the bigger plan may be to do just the opposite as Morrissey concludes. I believe that Bush may be out to divide the Democrats from their constituents.
As noted above, while conservatives want judges who will simply apply the laws on the books, to the left the courts are all they have to advance their political agenda. And when Miers is confirmed and turns out to be a bedfellow of Scalia, Thomas, and yes, Roberts, the Democrats will be in serious trouble come 2006 and 2008. Because after having filibustered a number of Bush's appeals court judges for years, at the most crucial moment, they will have allowed two pro-life and very conservative individuals be appointed to the Supreme Court in a walk, thus risking the viability of, Roe v. Wade. These far left activists will regard the Democrats' failure to put up anything more than a token opposition as a betrayal. And it will more likely be the left and their checkbooks who do not participate next November.
But if we don't trust the President who has been trustworthy thus far, to do what he thinks is best on an issue which we know he takes very seriously, what does that say about us and the confidence we claimed we had in him over the past five years?