This is the best you could do?

I’ve never been sure what motivates George Bush. Unlike so many presidents before — Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Carter, with more or less success each — Bush does not seem motivated by his legacy. If he were, he’d have done what was necessary to win democracy for Iraq and not leave a mess. If he were, he would have used the political capital to bring some strategic vision to life — on, say, energy independence. If he were, he wouldn’t have nominated Harriet Miers.

I can understand cronyism — the need to be surrounded by loyalty, whether as a matter of ideology or as the tit paid for a tat. I don’t approve of it (see: Brownie). But I get the motivation.

But to install a crony in the Supreme Court where personal loyalty is meaningless? I can’t decide whether it’s stupid or cynical.

John Podhoretz complains:

There is only one person on the planet who would have made this selection — the person whose personal lawyer Miers was, whose staff secretary she was, as well as, for less than a year, his chief White House counsel.

Without the patronage of George W. Bush, Harriet Miers is nothing more than a fairly obscure lawyer from Texas who served as president of a relatively minor law firm and served in state government on a lottery commission for five years….

The Supreme Court is a strange institution. It basically makes its own rules as it goes along, since there are only a few legal matters its nine justices are required by the Constitution to consider. It is a combination of court, think tank and policymaker. It doesn’t quite possess paramount authority in the United States, since its rulings can be overridden in some cases by acts of Congress or by the passage of a constitutional amendment. But it’s pretty close.

And these decisions are made through the complex interplay of written law, oral argument and logical analysis….

Harriet Miers might be a very fine person. She might be a good lawyer. Her boss, President Bush, certainly thinks a lot of her work as staff secretary and policy aide.

But it is highly unlikely that she will be a good Supreme Court justice, because there is no indication in her 35 years in professional life that she has intellectual interests, that she has committed herself to the study of Constitutional theory and practice or even that she can write a decent English sentence. And it beggars reason to think that a person at the age of 60 can suddenly emerge as an intellectual powerhouse.

Or was this a most cynical act: the product of an effort to find someone with no meaningful paper trail, robbing the Senate and thus us of the chance make sure we have the best?

But Democrats are guilty of cynicism at least as thick.

The Democrat minority leader, Harry Reid, who mentioned her name to the President during the consultation process, said: “I have to say without any qualification that I’m very happy that we have someone like her.” …

Liberal New York Democrat senator Charles Schumer said “it could have been worse.”

But shouldn’t the response of the Democrats and Republicans, for that matter, have been: This is the best you could do, Mr. President?

  • ajf

    f he were, he’d have done what was necessary to win democracy for Iraq and not leave a mess.

    You are a complete fucking moron Jeff.

  • And you are a gentleman, a scholar and a chickenshit, whoever the hell you are.

  • No one has “left” Iraq. It is only a “mess” in the optimistic delusions of foundering lefties.

    Has one Iraqi complained that Saddam is gone or asked us to leave?

    Jeff, stick to media topics. The leftist talking points are already ubiquitous.

  • Ravo

    A legacy is usually associated as being something left to and judged by FUTURE generations.

    Most present day politicians are feel forced to think like present day corporations…making decisions for temporary gain that look good to the stockholders this year, (Enron) but are not the tough decisions that needed to be made for the long term.(Berkshire)

    Always worrying, how do they look NOW.

    Bush does not seem motivated by his legacy.

    That Bush hasn’t made his governance all about HIM is refreshing and reassuring, and makes him as a Leader, all too rare.

    George Bush, unlike most politicians who consider each poll a legacy, has made it plain he will make decisions on what’s best for the long haul, expecting to be judged harshly now, but that History will be his true judge, and that hindsight will judge him kindly.

    I believe it will.

  • Actually, conservative Republican that I am, I’m reaching for the nitroglycerin caps even as I find myself agreeing with Jeff’s final point. Why aren’t the Democrats raising hell with Bush over this selection? If they truly want the best for the nation, don’t they want someone more qualified than Miers? I understand the Republicans freaking out. Where are the Democrats?

    My heart…

  • Angelos

    Sorry Ravo, but Bush will go down as a colossal failure.

    And Greg, the Dems pre-vetted her! That’s the scary part. Breathe…

  • Loyalty may come into play if the Bush admin is later subject to criminal charges. Sort of like Ford pardoning Nixon before he was charged with anything.

    What’s more interesting is that this nomination is an insult to the entire country. To give the highest federal position to someone with no legal standing, no scholarship, no writings on matters of law. devalues the position.

    There are plenty of conservative legal scholars who could have been picked, or sitting federal judges, but they wouldn’t be as useful when “loyalty” is demanded in possible future cases.

    Many people see crimes against humanity issues with several admin actions in the war and with imprisonment without trial.

  • Mark

    I really don’t get this “Iraq is being left a mess” lede Jeff. The anti-war side has been crowing quagmire since before the first Humvee entered the desert and seem to work in a continuous manner to manufacture a conventional wisdom of failure, yet have been continually and spectacularly wrong at every turn from then to now. I wonder how much better we, and the Iraqis, might be doing without this obstructive MSM position?

    Anyone that can move beyond the never ending gloom presented by the MSM (which includes anyone that can read this) can clearly see that things are simply not as they are portrayed. Hell, just using basic reasoning and comparing the Iraq timeline with any other war in history (barring Grenada, perhaps) one can easily determine that we’re doing just fine, thanks.

  • I wouldn’t find this necessary, except that JJ got whacked in the very first comment — I think he made that point very well, and in a fair manner. I just disagree with it.

    Just change the name behind the thought:

    Clinton does not seem motivated by his legacy. If he were, he’d have done what was necessary to win a compromise between Israel and the Palestinians and not leave a mess.

    Clinton tried his damndest to resolve that conflict — I’m not Clinton-bashing, here. But after two full terms, he still left office with little result to show for his efforts. And there’s no question that the middle east remained a mess after he left office. That’s not his fault.

    So I think it’s quite a bit of armchairing to suggest that Bush doesn’t care that the Iraq effort was a failure because he’s not interested in a legacy. First, it’s too early to declare it a failure, as there have been ups and downs all along (and I’ve heard Bush say all along that it would take a very long time; only Democrats seem to be seriously pushing the unrealistic line that it should have been wrapped up right away, and that we need to bring home the troops yesterday); second, we’re not even halfway through Bush’s term; and third, if Bush is not interested in a legacy, that has nothing to do with the motive of someone to attempt to do right or wrong.

    What’s the diff, by the way, between “wanting a legacy” and wanting to be remembered for having done right? I think there’s a bit of difference in motive — one seeks to be remembered in a more lofty, Nobel prize way — but does it matter if the aim is still to do right?

  • Ed Poinsett

    Iraq is not a mess, it’s evolving into a democratic nation. Long hard slog ahead, but Bush has never claimed otherwise. Jeff’s buddies in the MSM have declared it a mess and pray every day for failure. As to Bush’s legacy, I think he tries do do the right things. You seem to want Bush to micromanage every detail of government. I’m happy he doesn’t try. His legacy will be what it is. I predict a Harry Truman, not a Jimmy Carter.

  • Jim S

    Is it possible that Iraq will recover and become a better country than it was under Saddam? Yes. Is it possible that it will descent into an Islamic theocracy? Yes. Is it possible that it will split into parts after a bloody civil war with the different nations it will become having different fates? Yes. All of those things are still possible at this point.

    But the Iraqi people are definitely paying a price for the many errors that were made because of the delusions of the Bush administration. They despised the idea of nation-building after taking out the Iraqi military so they chose to believe things that were patently absurd about the conditions they would find in Iraq. Not everyone was ever going to be pleased about the American military entering their nation, no matter how just the cause. Given the recent past of Iraq how could they have not realized the potential for a crippled infrastructure that would be amazingly difficult to restore? Completely dismantling the Iraqi military instead of just trying to clean it out was an unmitigated disaster. The borders are more porous than a sieve and Iraq is now a great home for the Islamic terrorists in the world instead of a minor blip on their radar.

    All of these things must be laid at the feet of George Bush and his immediate circle. So no, President Bush has NOT done all that he could have to make certain that Iraq will be a success by the time he leaves office.

  • Jeff is right about Iraq. We’re getting ready to cut and run, hanging out to dry whatever poor people in that country still deluded enough to believe we were there for their own benefit in the first place. Despite all the official optimistic bluster coming from the Administration, the war is a political poison pill for the GOP, and you can bet the farm that they’re going to spit it the hell out between now and next November no matter how “well” we’re in fact doing over there.

  • doit

    Jeff – i am in Mosul – your statement that Iraq is a mess indicates that you have spent way too much time sucking your thumb and not enough intellectually examining what is happening here.

    When was the last time you heard of electricity being a problem? Oil pipelines being blown up? Entire sections of cities over-run by Jihadists (or, as hero of the Left, Michael Moore calls them, Freedom Fighters)? Have you know idea of the WWTP, schools, hospitals and basic infrastructure projects that are on going presently in Iraq? Have you know idea of the various ops that are finding and wiping out terrorists from Tal-Afar to Tallil?

    Here’s a quarter: Buy a clue.

  • Rootbeer

    Has one Iraqi […] asked us to leave?

    Yes. Many more than one.

    Say what you will about quote-unquote “The Left” believing only what they want to believe about the conditions in Iraq, but do realize that this sword cuts both ways.

  • Dumbo

    I guess Iraq is a big success if you only read myopic slanted right-wing news about all those lovely schools they’re painting. Damn that mainstream media! They just don’t appreciate all that hard painting! Damn them!

    It’s true, we are getting ready to cut and run. When the first fig-leaf of a reason presents an opportunity, they will declare “victory.” All my diehard Bushie friends seem to believe so, as well.

    About the topic… I was mystified at the list of names that Harry Reid presented to Bush as pre-approved. I would like to think that he was suckering Bush, appealing to his natural cronyistic impulses to embarass him, but somehow I don’t think Reid was that clever. Whatever, it would make no sense to complain about Mier at this time. It would only make the Republicans embrace her and love her, resolving all their questions so there’s no upside to be found in that.

    I wonder what kind of discussions took place in the White House before Mier was chosen. Didn’t the other aides and cabinet members speak up? Or did Bush just cut them out of the loop completely, determined to “use the force,” Star-Wars style, choosing his secretary because he can see she has a “good heart,” whatever that means.

  • John

    We live in an immediate gratification society, where life is — if not bad — at the very lease annoying if, say, American Airlines doesn’t have wi-fi on its transcontinental flights. Going by that, the public actually has shown a great deal of patience so far about Iraq, though the question is how much more they will show if the administration can’t justify a meaningful troop reduction by this time next year, where the Iraqi army and government really are capable of taking over operations (to pull out while they are still not ready really would be a cynical act by Bush, designed to pander to the ’06 elections).

    As for Miers, this strikes me as a move of weakness, in that Bush and/or his advisors don’t think they have the strength to keep enough Republicans in line to get an openly conservative judge like Luttig, Jones or Brown through the Senate. Since the administration lost the early battle to define where the fault mainly lay in the Hurricane Katrina debacle and the difficulty they had in defining the nominee and holding the Senate Republicans together in the John Bolton U.N. confirmation battle, the decision may have been made to go with Miers, on whom there was little op research done, which meant the White House would have first shot for 48-72 hours or so in defining the nominee to the general public.

    I suppose they could have gone with the option of someone equally obscure, but who was on a state or federal bench, but that would have been too close to the Souter route that got dad in trouble 15 years ago. And while the son is taking heavy fire from his right flank right now, if Bush really wasn’t sure he could keep Collins, Chaffee, Spector, Hagel, etc. in line for a vote on someone more in the Scalia/Thomas mode, he would have end up taking the same fire from the right after the nomination was killed for not working harder, and would be in an even weaker position then, having been defeated by Senate Democrats either in the Judiciary Committee or before the full Senate.

  • doit

    Rootbeer – we do not take our orders from terrorists. So they asking us to leave is a moot point.

    Dumbo – what an apt name. I am in Mosul, FOB: Marez. Why on earth do you think you know more then me on what it is like here right now?

  • Shawn

    I concur with you Doit. However, it is useless to try and reason some of these commenters out of something they were never reasoned into in the first place.

  • Doit,

    Mosul has never been a real problem during the occupation. The Kurds are overjoyed that we’ve helped them establish a de facto autonomous Greater Kurdistan, so why on earth would they be trying to make Allied forces leave?

    Why not head down to Fallujah or the Sadr City portion of Baghdad and tell us what they think of you there… (don’t forget your flak jacket)

  • David

    >But shouldn’t the response of the Democrats and Republicans, for that
    >matter, have been: This is the best you could do FOR President?

    LOYAL Democrats have been asking that question ever since the 2000 election.

  • Ravo


    We all saw what the reporters reported in New Orleans, and how correct that was. I’m sure the reporting of the “mess in Iraq” is biased fiction ten times worse.

  • doit

    Jersey Exile – I have spent most of my time just north of Baghdad, i wd rather not name the city, but it is between Baghdad and Balad.

    Further, there i worked very closely with Locals, as opposed to up here – they were incredibly supportive and thankful.

    Now are you willing to accept the word of someone who has been in Iraq for over a year now, on the ground, in and around Baghdad and Mosul, or do you wish to continue to believe no nothing bloggers who like the Q word?

  • Angelos

    From the Moustache of Understanding:
    “Iraq is a multiethnic society that had to be held together by a dictator’s iron fist. What Iraqis are struggling with today is whether they can forge their own social contract in which Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis can live together – without an iron fist. That is critical because virtually every Arab state today is a mix of religions and ethnicities held together by a hard or soft fist. If Iraqis can find a way to live together, any people out here can, and democracy has a future. If the Iraqis can’t, probably no one can, and we can look forward to dictatorships and monarchies in the Arab world — with all the pathologies they bring – forever.”

    See, we’ve got our excuses ready! Whatever happens, it’s not our falut, blame the ethnic groups for not getting along. Because, you know, we have no problems with ethicity in our own wonderful Utopia of Bankruptcy.

    Our Fearless Leader and his Merry Band of Incompetents went into this with no plan whatsoever. Trust me, defeating the Iraqi “army” was the easy part. We’ve bungled every step of the rebuilding process, billions and billions and the infrastructure is no better (looking good for NOLA!). We took sides in the ethnic struggles – stupid. The attempt at complete de-Baathification of the Army and Police produced, well, nothing. There is no Iraqi Army. Don’t let Rummy or Condi tell you any different – there is one (1) battalion ready to stand on its own. That’s 1000 people. Everything is worse since “Mission Accomplished” was announced.

    But it’s not our fault!

    High five!

  • Well, what surprise that we’re looking at a family friend on the Supreme
    Court, and yes, that is giving rise to a few speculations about what sort of cases the administration sees coming up when executive privilege is in the past tense, and all those meetings such as the decisions involving energy policy made by reps of the industry, are coming out???

    No doubt the administration saw the opportunity in Iraq to set up another friendly backscratching arrangement like they have with the House of Saud – what disappointments that without a HoS that hotbed of Iraqi interests keeps raising its inconvenient head.

  • clevelander

    bush is a sow’s ear – why are we shocked at the absence of a silk purse?

  • Jersey, as long as you’re hanging out the shrine of the high priest of citizens’ media, why don’t you take yourself over to Michael Yon’s place – – and check out an actual citizen journalist embed. Take a read of what’s really been going down in Mosul before you make a further fool of yourself, trying to give someone who’s actually there the SITREP. Someone might confuse you for a leftist sock puppet, else.

  • owl 1

    I agree, michael yon is awesome. Good luck to you also, doit.

    The media framed the war as a “quadmire” before we even started and the first year, I probably objected everyday by email to a certain commentator that insisted we were there for WMDs. Now I thought we would find them, but never believed it was why we went to that spot. Some people put more weight on words in a speech than they do on other. I heard about a USA problem that we either cut loose or tied up. If I closed my eyes and pointed to the place on the map to fight it, it was there. My question to the media: What makes Iraq more of a quadmire today than when you were calling it that from Day#1? Just think it they had all joined in the fight with us……..geesh……possible the enemy would not have heard “quadmire” every day!!!!

    Meirs……..well, I shot off my nasty email almost by the time the prez got it out of his mouth. I was furious. Then I slept. Then I thought. Now I am damn near laughing. What can I say? I once would have voted for McCain. Yes, I am laughing. Have not felt so cheered for a long time.

  • Marie


    When President Bush nominated John Roberts for the Supreme Court, I was excited. Finally, a pro-life nominee at a time when we controlled the Senate and could assure his confirmation!

    But then, John Roberts, now Chief Justice John Roberts, failed to meet my, and I expect your, expectations. He had no record on the life of the unborn. I thought this was cowardly of Bush who had told us all that he would nominate Justices in the mold of Thomas and Scalia and then when he had the chance, did not do that.

    Or maybe he did. I don’t know about you but this “you’ll be impressed with him” wink, wink business isn’t nearly as bold as I expected.

    And now he gets another chance to nominate a pro-life Justice and again, he goes for a weak option in Harriet Miers.

    This “trust me, wink wink” business isn’t going to work. Is President Bush ashamed of being pro-life? Why does he nominate Justices that are clearly too ashamed to be honest with the public.

    Clearly, President Bush has waned from his faith and he needs our help. Please pray that President Bush finds the courage and conviction to show the liberals that he is boldly pro-life and confirm to us all that Harriet Miers is pro-life.

    CALL THE PRAYER LINE TODAY AND RAISE YOUR PRAYERS WITH OTHER AMERICANS OF FAITH – (800) 759-0700. You can also submit your prayer to Tell the wonderful and faithful volunteer on the line to pray with you for Bush’s soul, that he should not be punished for misleading us all to believe he is a man of faith.

  • Interesting reflection Marie. Also of concern to me is that Jesus directed us to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s”, when the Sadducees tried to inveigle Jesus into connecting the church and the state. Don’t you accept that? I wonder why the followers of Christ don’t believe, on this issue.