Time Magazine has a fascinating piece in its latest issue about the intra—conservative controversy caused by Harriet Miers. After describing in painful detail how the White House is trying to re—start the nomination, Time offers this ominous quotation:
Bush's friends contend that it is the conservative elite, not the President, who miscalculated and that self—righteous right—wingers stand to lose their seats at the table of power for the next three years. "They're crazy to take him on this frontally," said a former West Wing official. "Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it." If a Justice Miers eventually takes her seat on the court, vocal critics can only hope the Bush Administration handles the punishment of the treasonous as poorly as it is currently promoting one of its most loyal subjects.
It remains to be seen if and how the White House will seek to punish its conservative critics. However, the president would have been much better off exercising some party discipline back in November of 2004. It was then that the re—elected Senator Arlen Specter warned Bush about nominating Supreme Court justices who might overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to make their own abortion laws. At that time many conservatives wanted to keep Specter from becoming the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the White House declined to oppose him.
A year has gone by and now President Bush faces sagging poll numbers and a powerful committee chairman who once helped to scuttle the nomination of Robert Bork. If Specter had been disciplined last November for publicly undermining the president's authority, Bush might have been in a stronger position to nominate a well—known conservative justice like Edith Jones or Michael Luttig to fill the current SCOTUS vacancy. Every conservative in the country would have supported such a nominee, and there would be no 'treasonous' for the White House to punish.
Josh Bentley 10 17 05