Harriet Miers

Harriet Miers, Supreme Court nominee

A faith-based nomination

There aren't many famous Harriets: Harriet Nelson, Harriet the Spy, Harriet Tubman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe are the only ones that come easily to mind — my mind. Thanks to George W Bush, Harriet Miers can likely to be added to the list.

the Nelsons
The Nelsons: Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky, and David

Harriet Nelson was the quintessential 1950s TV housewife, the anchor of her idealized nuclear family, always bolstering the bumbling Ozzie. (And why have so many TV fathers been such incompetents, anyway, from Ozzie Nelson down to Ozzie Osborne?)

Harriet the spy
Harriet the Spy (Click to enlarge)

Harriet the Spy was a prepubescent busy-body who kept track of everyone's secrets in her notebook, leading to her downfall and social ostracism when the notebook falls into the wrong hands and everyone learns what she really thinks of them. This Harriet is a literary favorite among the pre-teen crowd.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe (Click to enlarge)

Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist and author of several books, the most famous being Uncle Tom's Cabin, first published in serial form.

Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman (Click to enlarge)

Harriet Tubman was one of famous conductors on the underground railway, leading slaves to freedom. She was also so effective that at one time a reward of $40,000 was offered for her capture.

Harriet Miers
Harriet Miers with George Bush announcing her nomination

Harriet Miers is President George W Bush's nominee for the seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor. By comparison with the other Harriets, we know almost nothing about Harriet Miers, except that she is a Bush loyalist. As we've seen so many times before with Bush, loyalty and personal relationships always trump competence and achievement. Quelle surprise!

Miers has never been a judge, but that does not disqualify her. The dearly-departed Chief Justice Rehnquist had not been a judge before being appointed an Associate Justice by Richard Nixon and Chief Justice by Ronald Reagan. But it does make her something of a pig in a poke, and that is a problem for both the Left and the Right. The Left worries that she may turn out to be cast in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, the type of justice Bush promised he would appoint. The Right worries that she may turn out not to be cast in that mold. The absence of a track record to examine is deeply troubling for both sides.

When Bush won re-election, he boasted of his political capital and declared his willingness to spend it to achieve his agenda. Not even a year later, it is clear that W's capital account is about empty. Miers' nomination reflects a greatly weakened presidency. W has chosen not to pick a fight with the Left, and he hopes his "base" in the hard Right can be mollified by assurances to have faith and trust him one more time.

W set out determined not to repeat the errors of his father, George H W Bush. Bush-41 lost his base by reneging on his promise not to raise taxes — "read my lips." Bush-43 is in grave danger of losing his base by reneging on his promise to nominate justices that would help the Right in the culture wars.

If it limps like a lame duck, it's a lame duck.


As usual, the editorial cartoonists are having a field day.

Pat Oliphant cartoon
Pat Oliphant (Click to enlarge)
Stuart Carlson cartoon
Stuart Carlson (Click to enlarge)
Tom Toles cartoon
Tom Toles (Click to enlarge)