Meet the SCOTUS nominee that broke the conservative camel’s back.
From the Washington Post:
At one point in the first of the two off-the-record sessions, according to several people in the room, White House adviser Ed Gillespie suggested that some of the unease about Miers “has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism.” Irate participants erupted and demanded that he take it back. Gillespie later said he did not mean to accuse anyone in the room but “was talking more broadly” about criticism of Miers.
The tenor of the two meetings suggested that Bush has yet to rally his own party behind Miers and underscores that he risks the biggest rupture with the Republican base of his presidency. While conservatives at times have assailed some Bush policy decisions, rarely have they been so openly distrustful of the president himself.
Leaders of such groups as Paul M. Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation and the Eagle Forum yesterday declared they could not support Miers at this point, while columnist George Will decried the choice as a diversity pick without any evidence that Miers has the expertise and intellectual firepower necessary for the high court.
As I’ve observed the political climate recently, this is more of a comdenation of Bush than it is Meirs. Of course her record is suspect, but I think Bush’s disregard for true conservative ideology has pushed him into a realm that many on the right don’t see tenable, including Trent Lott…
“Is she the most qualified person? Clearly, the answer to that is ‘no,’ ” Lott said on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” contradicting Bush’s assertion. “There are a lot more people — men, women and minorities — that are more qualified, in my opinion, by their experience than she is. Now, that doesn’t mean she’s not qualified, but you have to weigh that. And then you have to also look at what has been her level of decisiveness and competence, and I don’t have enough information on that yet.”
The persistent criticism has put the White House on the defensive ever since Bush announced Monday his decision to nominate Miers to succeed the retiring Sandra Day O’Connor. While Miers has a long career as a commercial lawyer, Texas political figure and personal attorney to Bush before joining him at the White House, she has never been a judge or dealt extensively with the sorts of constitutional issues that occupy the Supreme Court.
Bush tried to defuse the smoldering conservative revolt with a Rose Garden news conference Tuesday, and the White House followed up yesterday by dispatching Gillespie, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and presidential aide Tim Goeglein to meetings that regularly bring together the city’s most influential fiscal, religious and business conservatives.
Frankly, it seems like the conservatives want their party back and they’ll sacrifice 2006 to get it.
And some think that Meirs could be another Souter.
Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and host of the other meeting, declined to comment on the discussion because of its presumption of confidentiality but said there is widespread concern given the experience with the nomination of Justice David H. Souter, who proved more liberal once on the bench. “There’s a great deal of frustration because of the Souter experience,” Norquist said. “The problem is there’s no fixing, there’s no allaying those fears. For the president to say ‘Trust me,’ it’s what he needs to say and has to say, but it doesn’t calm the waters.”
Expect the Dems to welcome Meirs with open arms.
And to sum it up:
Another conservative captured the mood, according to a witness, by scorning Miers. “She’s the president’s nominee,” he said. “She’s not ours.”
At Weyrich’s two-hour luncheon featuring Mehlman and Goeglein addressing 85 activists, the host opened the discussion by rejecting Bush’s call to trust him. “I told Mehlman that I had had five ‘trust-mes’ in my long history here . . . and I said, ‘I’m sorry, but the president saying he knows her heart is insufficient,” Weyrich said, referring to Republican court appointments that resulted in disappointment for conservatives.
In a later interview, Mehlman said he retorted that Bush’s decade-long friendship with Miers set this nomination apart: “What’s different about this trust-me moment as opposed to the other ones is this president’s knowledge of this nominee.”