Man Without Qualities

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Another Looming Miers Disaster

From Washington, James Taranto reports: "Having spent last evening communing here with some 1,000 conservatives at National Review's 50th anniversary dinner, we see a political disaster in the making." He may be right. He's very smart. And he's there.

But having reviewed the increasingly personal, nasty and ill tempered criticism of Harriet Miers (including that of Charles Krauthammer, who ridiculed the nomination as "a joke" - and worse), I see another disaster in the making of quite a different kind: I see a likely intense alienation of a Supreme Court justice from the movement conservatives, thereby fostering drift by that justice away from conservative values generally.

Personal feelings matter. The liberals who so savagely and personally attacked Clarence Thomas did the conservative movement a great favor: They sealed off any reasonable chance that Justice Thomas might be led to views more like those of his critics through the back door of personal relationships. Those doors can accommodate much traffic. Justice Brennan, for example (whose credentials at the time of his appointment certainly did not tower over those of Ms. Miers) became one of the most influential people who ever served on that Court largely by the artifice of personal charm. Harry Blackmun had retreated from many conservative values through those back doors, once he was offered shelter on the other side from the increasingly personal and hostile critics of his Roe v. Wade decision. But Justice Thomas' critics made sure that he would never make that trip. Thank you, movement liberals, for making quite sure that Clarence Thomas was immune to personal charm of the Brennan variety from the first day he first put on those robes.

Is it really going to be a good thing for conservatives to have a new Supreme Court justice who feels that she only made her way onto the Court by opposing conservatives, and that the Democrats and liberals were really not all that bad? Do conservatives really want to start Ms. Miers down the Blackmun-trod path before she even writes a single decision?

Is that what Mr. Krauthammer wants? More generally, do Mr. Krauthammer and his ilk really live on this earth? You wouldn't know it by me.

Critics of the Miers nomination have a perfect right to speak their minds. But they would do themselves, the conservative movement and the nation a big favor by toning down the tenor and personal nature of the attacks.

MORE: Duane Oyen has observations well worth considering.


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