Man Without Qualities

Friday, October 07, 2005

What's In A Name?

It amazes me that Volokhyries (and others) are worrying over this report:
In an initial chat with Miers, according to several people with knowledge of the exchange, Leahy asked her to name her favorite Supreme Court justices. Miers responded with "Warren" - which led Leahy to ask her whether she meant former Chief Justice Earl Warren, a liberal icon, or former Chief Justice Warren Burger, a conservative who voted for Roe v. Wade. Miers said she meant Warren Burger, the sources said.
As a preliminary matter, look closely at this passage. The word "admire" does not appear in it. The phrase actually used was "favorite." So why the heck do the Volohkyries keep chattering on about whether or not it is a good thing that Ms. Miers said she "admires" Warren Burger? (Kathryn Lopez says Ms. Miers used the word "admires" in her NRO report describing the Miers/Leahy exchange, but only said that she "admires" Burger's administrative skills - not his jurisprudence.) What does "favorite" mean? Harriet Miers probably knew Warren Burger personally. Maybe Burger flirted with her - she's dated a member of the Texas Supreme Court for years, so maybe she likes the type. In any event, she is not recorded as having been asked which justices she "admired."

And why do the Volohkyries suggest that almost nobody calls a former Chief Justice by his first name with no indication that they have done any research into what people actually did or do call him? Harriet Miers has had a long career as a senior player in a major law firm and both the American and Texas Bar Associations. She is therefore easily in a position to think of Warren Burger as "Warren." Would anyone be surprised to find that she thinks of the president as "George?"

In fact, I have my own story on this non-issue. Warren Burger was very active in organizing celebrations for the 200thanniversaryy of the Constitution. In that capacity he worked with some people in private legal practice in New York who I know rather well. They all called him "Warren" when they spoke to him or about him, in or out of his presence - even the junior legal associates. They all called the former Chief Justice by that name because in that context he insisted on it.

Did Warren Burger have senior people in bar associations and major law firm, such as Ms. Miers, call him by his first name? Beats me. But I could answer that question with a few phone calls if I really cared about it. The Volohkyries seem to care. The Washington Post seems to care, and provided the original report - a report in which the word "admire" does not appear even once. Why don't they make some calls?

The entire exercise in Volohkyrie-driven hand wringing is just absurd. Regardless of what Ms. Miers' political affiliations may have been in the past, enough is known about her views now that nobody can seriously propose that Earl Warren is today Harriet Miers favorite justice or that she ever intended to say such a thing to Patrick Leahy because she pays a lot of attention to detail and she is not stupid. People who seriously suggest the likelihood of such things should loosen their tinfoil hats and spend more time in the Grassy Knoll, their natural grazing grounds.

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