My Photo
Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Know Scalia, and Madame, You Are No Scalia...

"Harriet, if you climb up on toppa' that rock and bare-ass
all these reporters, I'll put ya' on the Supreme Court. Promise!"

I've meant to post this for over a week now, but have been too busy. Referring to the Harriet Miers nomination, Chefjef has it right:

She was a poor choice for nominee. She has no relevant experience. Despite the whining, her academic credentials are fine. But the areas of law she practiced are not one of the several areas of law that constitute the majority of cases the [Supreme Court] deals with every term. I'd rather have a qualified extremist - from either side of the spectrum - on the court than someone who doesn't really know what they're doing.

BTW, chairing the TX Bar Assoc. (or any state bar assoc.) is less impressive than chairing the Lottery Commission. Bar Associations are pretty much like fraternities; more of a social club that collects dues and keeps track of your college units. They don't really do much.


...or like the lazier variety of "professional" union, such as the NEA or AFSCME. Think of her as a talented union hack.

Appropos of that, David Brooks apparently wrote an excellent column last week evaluating Miers' intellectual acumen--or lack thereof--through her published writing. I would link to it directly, but Brooks writes for the caviar and Aquavit crowd that pays for its news in that Most Exalted, Infallable, and Self-Revering flagship of the mainstream media fleet, The New York Times; a paid hack of our self-appointed Masters of Information. Fortunately, Gillon at DailyKos has posted the entire text of the column. Good to see that Kos is useful for something.

With a like-minded intent to subvert The Establishment (although in ways that would likely dismay and anger the KosKidz), I am posting Brooks' entire column:
(...and if the NYT chooses to sue me, at least it will boost my readership...)

In Her Own Words

David Brooks, the New York Times, 13 Oct 05

Of all the words written about Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the early 90's, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called "President's Opinion" for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian.

Of course, we have to make allowances for the fact that the first job of any association president is to not offend her members. Still, nothing excuses sentences like this:

"More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."

Or this: "We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism."

Or this: "When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved."

Or passages like this: "An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin."

Or, finally, this: "We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective. Achieving the necessary understanding and appreciation of why the challenge is so important, we can then turn to the task of providing the much needed support."

I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers's prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things.

Or as she puts it, "There is always a necessity to tend to a myriad of responsibilities on a number of cases as well as matters not directly related to the practice of law." And yet, "Disciplining ourselves to provide the opportunity for thought and analysis has to rise again to a high priority."

Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Supreme Court justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively. Miers's columns provide no evidence of that.

The Miers nomination has reopened the rift between conservatives and establishment Republicans.

The conservative movement was founded upon the supposition that ideas have consequences. Conservatives have founded so many think tanks, magazines and organizations, like the Federalist Society, because they believe that you have to win arguments to win political power. They dream of Supreme Court justices capable of writing brilliant opinions that will reshape the battle of ideas.

For the first years of his presidency, George Bush healed the division between Republicans and conservatives by pursuing big conservative goals with ruthless Republican discipline. But Harriet Miers has shown no loyalty to conservative institutions like the Federalist Society. Her loyalty has been to the person of the president, and her mental style seems to be Republicanism on stilts.

So conservatives are caught between loyalty to their ideas and loyalty to the president they admire. Most of them have come out against Miers - quietly or loudly. Establishment Republicans are displaying their natural loyalty to leadership. And Miers is caught in the vise between these two forces, a smart and good woman who has been put in a position where she cannot succeed.

Her sort is very common -- garden variety, in fact -- in senior government service, at least in my experience, especially among political appointees. They have no ideas of their own. Not only do they write in NewSpeak, they think in it as well.

Way to go, Mr. President. With the Miers nomination, you've placed me on the same side of the political fence as the Kossaks.


<< Home