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October 07, 2005

Miers: A Pragmatic View

Thomas Sowell enunciates, better than anyone else I have seen, some of the practical reasons that very likely went into Harriet Miers' appointment:

Rush Limbaugh has aptly called this a nomination made from a position of weakness. But there are different kinds of weakness and sometimes the difference matters.

President Bush has taken on too many tough fights -- Social Security being a classic example -- to be regarded as a man who is personally weak. What is weak is the Republican majority in the Senate.

When it comes to taking on a tough fight with the Senate Democrats over judicial nominations, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn't really have a majority to lead. Before the President nominated anybody, before he even took the oath of office for his second term, Senator Arlen Specter was already warning him not to nominate anyone who would rile up the Senate. Later, Senator John Warner issued a similar warning. It sounded like a familiar Republican strategy of pre-emptive surrender.

Before we can judge how the President played his hand, we have to consider what kind of hand he had to play. It was a weak hand -- and the weakness was in the Republican Senators.

You say tomayto, I say tomahtoe. Weakness, or shrewdness? It sure looks manly to charge straight uphill into a nest of machine-gun fire and go down in a hail of bullets, but if the objective was to take the hill, that's really not terribly smart, now is it? For attempting a flanking manoever (classic tactics), the President has been called a coward by all the really smart set - the ones who know how the hill should be taken, having so much experience themselves. But then armchair quarterbacking is easy from the cheap seats. If your little suggestion doesn't fly, you don't get blamed and the nation doesn't have to live with the consequences. You just dash off another smartassed column. Sowell continues:

Does this mean that Harriet Miers will not be a good Supreme Court justice if she is confirmed? It is hard to imagine her being worse than Sandra Day O'Connor -- or even as bad.

Considering some of the turkeys that Republicans have put on the Supreme Court in the past, she could be a big improvement.

We don't know. But President Bush says he has known Harriet Miers long enough that he feels sure.

For the rest of us, she is a stealth nominee. Not since The Invisible Man has there been so much stealth.

That's not ideal by a long shot. But ideal was probably never in the cards, given the weak sisters among the Republicans' Senate "majority."

There has been an awful lot of hysteria about Miers' nomination: a veritable DU-like welter of hyperbole and hysteria accompanied by elite condescension, snobbery, personal attacks and strained logic accompanied by a total disregard for the facts.

There have also been a few good arguments posed, though I believe they are ultimately mistaken. One of these is made by Daniel Henninger, who asserts that the President's endorsement of a poster child for Federalism would have reinivigorated the conservative movement, giving them something to fight for. Unaddressed are the consequences of the almost inevitable Borking of such a candidate and the years of increasingly bitter partisan rancor that would follow another crushing defeat:

For nearly 25 years, conservative legal thinkers have been building an argument that liberalism transformed the Court into an instrument of national policymaking more appropriate to the nation's legislative institutions. Roe v. Wade is the most famous of those policy decisions. And the most famous dictum justifying judicial policy innovation is Justice William Douglas's "penumbras formed by emanations"--from Griswold v. Connecticut.

Across these many years conservatives have been creating a structured legal edifice to stand against a liberal trend toward aggrandized federal power that began in the 1930s. Chief Justice William Rehnquist's "New Federalism," which devolves many powers back to the states, was one such example. Harriet Miers may share these reformist views, but her contribution to them is zero. Conservatives are upset because they see this choice as frittering away an opportunity of long-term consequence.

If instead the Senate had been given the chance to confirm someone who had participated in this conservative legal reconstruction and who would describe its tenets in a confirmation hearing, that vote would stand as an institutional validation of those ideas. [Only if the nominee won] This would become a conservatism worth aspiring to. In turn, Congress's imprimatur would follow the nominee onto the Court, into the judiciary and the law schools. A Miers confirmation validates nothing, gives voice to nothing.

What Henninger fails to consider is that after the Roberts hearings, the Democrats

...cannot let a high-profile conservative get confirmed without putting up a dogfight to satisfy their left-wing special interest groups.

Perhaps that is why some Democrats seem to welcome this stealth nominee. Even if she turns out to vote consistently with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the Democrats are off the hook with their base because they can always say that they had no idea and that she stonewalled them at the confirmation hearings.

The bottom line with any Supreme Court justice is how they vote on the issues before the High Court. It would be nice to have someone with ringing rhetoric and dazzling intellectual firepower. But the bottom line is how they vote. If the President is right about Harriet Miers, she may be the best choice he could make under the circumstances.

It's easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees, and our more-conservative-than-thou brethren are doing exactly that. It is worth remembering that those who deplore Harriet Miers' apppointment as an affirmative action hire raised exactly the same objection to the nomination of Justice Thomas, the nominee with the "Souteresque" appellate record who subsequently proved the most consistently originalist Justice on the current Court:

The misuse of racial politics for cynical court-packing is an old story, dating back to 1991, when the previous President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the top bench. Everyone understood that Mr. Thomas, a figure of no great distinction, had been hand-picked due to a happy coincidence of skin color and political coloration. Although he had benefited from affirmative action throughout his career, Mr. Thomas had since displayed his eagerness to deprive others of the means by which he had advanced.

At the time, columnist George Will confessed: "Trashing the truth is now so natural in Washington that there were only worldly smirks and shrugs when George Bush began the Thomas saga by saying two things he and everyone else knows are untrue—that Thomas is the person best-qualified for the Supreme Court, and that his race was irrelevant to his selection."

It would seem that if nothing else, Mr. Will is consistently petty. One suspects he will be proven consistently wrong as well.

Link via Xrlq, who ably takes Will behind the woodshed here. I'm sorely tempted to form a Coalition of Those Who Think Will And Frum Are Blithering Asshats, but I have a feeling the blogroll would prove unmanageably large.

Posted by Cassandra at October 7, 2005 07:54 AM

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You're really harshing my mellow today. :)

PS. I have a sneeking suspicion that there are more than a few so-called intellectual 'Conservatives' who actually want judicial activism from the right, but won't admit it (like Frum and Will, especially). I have a book on the shelf at home by Will "Statecraft as Soulcraft", written in the '80's, which begs, from the right, that government can help form a social, moral society. That, in the end, is a bit of a dangerous idea (anti-democratic), to my way of thinking.
Let's face it and get it over with: Roe v Wade will NEVER be overturned in its entirety. It may be trimmed around the edges and its scope may be reduced, but, as John Ashcroft said (of all people) 'it is settled law'.
It was an abomination of judicial writing and jurisprudence (whatever that is!), and flat out creating something our of nothing, and frankly grotesque in its broadest application, but a reasonable reading of the Ninth Amendment pretty much precludes it from being overturned after being on the books for 30 years.
It's not morality, but a Constitutional issue. But then again, I'm not a lawyer, so this is probably pretty wrong. :}

Posted by: David at October 7, 2005 09:38 AM

I know I'm beating Will bloody, but I'm still peeved at him.

I have never liked the man - his arguments are logically inconsistent and I find some of them bordering on scary. I don't have a problem with government shoring up some limited concept pf public morality, frankly. I've made that argument before. We legislate morality all the time in the public interest - to suggest otherwise is both silly and suicidal.

Society is a framework within which we must function. That framework can do one of three things: in a pure state, it can actively promote moral/responsible behavior, it can actively promote immoral/destructive behavior, or it can be neutral. Ideally if it has to do one of those three things, I would prefer the first as long as 'promote' does not read 'impose', and that is a critical distinction that is lost on the intellectual lightweights who populate the Left.

Encouraging or even incenting someone to do what is good both for themselves and others is not a social or moral negative in a world where free will is preserved.

[ducking while KJ goes ballistic on me :) ]

And you're right, IMO - I think Will does desire a world in which he can impose his "will" on others - read his criticism of Bush for not vetoing McCain-Feingold on Constitutional grounds. Hell - why doesn't the President just convene his own panel of lawyers and veto that torture bill when IT comes up because he "thinks" it might be "unconstitutional"?

Handy concept, that... that the Executive branch can just usurp the functions of the judiciary at will via the veto power. Asshat.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 7, 2005 10:02 AM

I understand "political practicality."
But why Harriet Miers? No one else wanted the job?

Posted by: spd rdr at October 7, 2005 10:08 AM

And I tend to agree with you on Roe. I find it hard to imagine it being overturned -- that is just a shibboleth of the Left.

For all the crap about how we need an intellectual luminaries of the legal world on SCOTUS, what I've seen in my travels and on the Court is an undue deference to "stare decisis" err... "abortion" and precious little willingness to genuinely challenge the conventional wisdom.

And of all the people on the Court today, WHO IS THE ONE MOST WILLING TO OVERTURN "PRECEDENT"?

Clarence Thomas.

The "unqualified one".

The "intellectual lightweight" with the writing skills of an "eighth grader".

The "affirmative action hire".

IMO, he is the only careful, thoughtful, fresh thinker on the court right now. The only one willing to actually challenge the status quo, because he's a bit of an outsider. And I think this is Bush's thinking in nominating Miers, and I think this scares the hell out of the legal establishment and their snobby little cliques.

Sometimes it's not always the naturally brilliant people who reason their way to the right answer - it's the smart ones who had to work a bit harder than other folks. But all these fricking geniuses are so busy blinding themselves with their own bullshit that they can't entertain the idea that Bush might be right again and they might just be wrong.

And Miers just might be the best nominee, for some very un-traditional reasons. Like Thomas.

That "affirmative action hire" of George Will's.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 7, 2005 10:16 AM

spd, I may have just unintentionally answered your question. I know you don't like my answer, but I really think it comes down to personal knowledge (which is NOT the same as cronyism if the candidate is good) and trust.

If you accept the argument (and not everyone does) that it is character which determines whether you drift to the Left, then his personal assessment of character is paramount. And he knows her better than anyone else. So is that "cronyism"? Or just taking advantage of his inside knowledge?

*If he also genuinely believes she is qualified and will do a fine job,* then it isn't cronyism. Period.

The problem is that you (and others) keep saying the Constitution demands "the best" candidate.

I reject that argument out of hand.

"The best" is relative, first of all. Your "best" is subjective - you want legal brains.

I argue that legal brains have given us a string of crappy decisions and overnice distinctions that rely on precedent rather than original thought in most cases. Law, often, becomes a out-of-control "slippery slope" from one ill-reasoned or improperly-expanded precedent to another, in which the hapless citizen is taken for a ride.

I'm not a lawyer. I want someone on that Court with some common sense. If (AND ONLY IF) she impresses me with her brains and ability (so far, I really like what I see of her character, and I've been doing a lot of checking) then I'm inclined to say this is a good pick. But she has to be up to the job mentally.

But what does that mean?

Unlike you all, I utterly reject the notion that the set of people who are "qualified" to sit on that Court is as small as you say.

I also (surprise!) utterly reject Ann Coulter's sneering "this isn't an on-the-job learning experience" remark. Bullshit. Name a justice who hasn't had to learn on the job. The steepness of the learning curve depends on their smarts, temperment, drive, and experience - all four, I would argue, matter tremendously.

I don't want the Court to be a rarefied atmosphere where no one with practical experience need apply. A little diversity - of experience, not gender - would be a very healthy thing on that bench.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 7, 2005 10:34 AM

Another "snob" weighs in with a ill-considered opinion.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 7, 2005 10:36 AM

Oh. Before I even click on it... let me guess.


Posted by: Cassandra at October 7, 2005 10:40 AM

Oooh! I was right!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 7, 2005 10:40 AM

I think I'll just stand down on the issue and wait. I am hopeless stuck on this, but I am quickly tiring of the sound of my own despair.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 7, 2005 10:43 AM

Oooh. The cronyism argument again.

There could be no other possible reason for doing anything other than the most venal one possible.

Thanks Charles. I just lost respect for you, big time.

You know, as an intellectual exercise spd, I could write a very good argument against her nomination because I've been thinking about this an awful lot. And I've seen nothing but petty and metritricious arguments made to date. Krauthammer could have been devastating. Perhaps you think he was - I have no idea.

I think he missed the boat big time - the two best arguments against her are ones I see almost no one making. It puzzles me greatly but I'll be damned if I'll do their dirty work for them. He hit below the belt when he could have fought clean and scored a home run. That ought to tell you something.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 7, 2005 10:46 AM

And I tend to agree with you on Roe. I find it hard to imagine it being overturned -- that is just a shibboleth of the Left.

Is there such a thing as a 5-4 shibboleth?

I think the shibboleth on Roe v. Wade comes from the right. The old "if Roe v. Wade is overturned all it would mean is each state decides" argument.

The Oregon "assisted suicide" law currently before the Supreme Court kind of invalidates that argument, doesn't it? It was passed twice by the voters of Oregon and the Feds are seeking to overturn it based on the improper use of drugs?

If the court gets conservative enough it will find penumbras everywhere that there is a right to life for the unborn, and it will outlaw abortion in all states.

Posted by: Pug at October 7, 2005 05:00 PM

No Pug, you're rather missing the point here.

The Left always assumes that everyone will behave exactly the same way they do, but the Left is (generally speaking) results-oriented while the Right is more process-oriented. The stated position of conservatives (even pro-choice ones like me) is that THE CONSTITUTION IS SILENT ON ABORTION. Therefore, it is a matter that should be left to the states.

And since the overwhelming majority of Americans presently (though this may change) favor some limited access to abortion, I have a very hard time seeing abortion outlawed if the conservatives get their way and Roe is overturned. The worst that might happen is you might have to cross state lines to get one.

And that might make people think before they get pregnant and then decide to end a human life. Not a bad thing, in my book.

And again, let me remind you that I'm a "pro" "choice" conservative (God I hate that term), whatever the hell that means. But I don't duck the moral implications of my stance, unlike some people.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 7, 2005 05:13 PM

For what it`s worth, even though you didn`t ask, I don`t have a problem with this choice either.

One thing Bush is very good at is letting people think he's incompetent, then, when they least expect it, he pulls one over on them so fast they don`t know what hit them.

i.e., John Roberts, Condi Rice and a host of others.
Bush has the uncanny ability to pick the right (no pun) person for the job and he`s fairly consistant.

As to Miers qualifications, let me ask this of the lawyers.

How many lawyers do you know that have handled 12th Amendment cases?
Of those, how many went up against Sandford Levinson and not only won, but won 3 times?

I ain`t a lawyer but I know an extremely difficult task when I see one, and Ms. Miers tackled it not once but 3 times.
A "cert. denied" is a win to a lawyer and when SCOTUS hands down one, you`ve won.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at October 8, 2005 12:05 AM

It appears, days later, that the only support that can be given to this nomination is "poltical practicallity." Or, in other words, too chicken shit to fight over the real issues. I am amazed at the acceptance of appeasement from some in this crowd. But I will be called unrealistic. I guess we all draw the line in different places, but I will never again (in the short term) give the Republican Party my support if ANY one else steps forward to lead the WOT.

And I shall say no more.

Posted by: KJ at October 10, 2005 12:37 PM

Shame on all of you! Especially you, KJ! Don't you nasty conservatives realize you're destroying the Republican Party! We are a big tent, so you can take your right-wing principles and shove them up your wazoo. Only moderate "principles" count in the big tent.

Conservatives, like children, should be seen and not heard in the new GOP. You may applaud, politely, when the Great Man speaks or throws you a crumb from his political table, but that's it.

You must blindly trust The Great Man in all things. Any criticism will subject you to castigation from the strident GOP moderates.

Welcome to the new GOP. We require your obedience, not your understanding.

Posted by: a former european at October 12, 2005 04:27 AM

Awwwww, poor wittle conservatives have to settle for a corporate law expert instead of the ivy weague pwofessor they had their hearts set on. Will the constitution survive? Better take the marbles and go home.

Posted by: Pile On at October 12, 2005 07:25 AM

Doubtless the Constitution will be far better served if we put a Democrat in the White House for the next 8 years so we can fill the next 2 or 3 SCOTUS vacancies with judges who will go looking over at the EU for "precedent" to interpret the Constitution and do away with any last shred of federalism. Way to keep our eye on the big picture.

That'll teach those nasty Rethugs to mind their manners... But doubtless I'll be called a soulless pragmatist.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2005 07:40 AM

Bush ate your soul, and you know it.

Posted by: David at October 12, 2005 08:22 AM

Yep, cause fighting the good fight and losing is so much more important than winning and fighting another day.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 12, 2005 09:54 AM

...Cause Miers is so much more a stealth candidate than Roberts that we should support the one and deride the other.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 12, 2005 09:58 AM

that the only support that can be given to this nomination is "poltical practicallity." Or, in other words, too chicken shit to fight over the real issues. - KJ

I take it we will now see you fighting for marijuana legalization due to the real issue of liberty even though you admit as much as it's political suicide?

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 12, 2005 11:18 AM

...or are you just an appeassor on the issue?

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 12, 2005 11:19 AM

"Yep, cause fighting the good fight and losing is so much more important than winning and fighting another day."

That is always the answer from the Republicans. It explains our budget.

And yes, I'm an appeassor on the drug issue. It isn't worth fighting for when so many more important, basic liberties are being taken away.

I just happen to think that SCOTUS is a battle worth having. A few things are actually important enough to fight over. It isn't like Bush doesn't get a "second chance" if his first nominee loses. Reid doesn't get to make the second nomination if Bush's first one loses. I am so dumbfounded by all this.

I am in the minority here -- no doubt about that.

Posted by: KJ at October 12, 2005 11:55 AM

KJ, this isn't personal.

You haven't made the argument I put down in my comment, but several others have quite forcefully, and I think it both dangerous and shortsighted. Plus it's the ONLY one I've argued forcefully against - don't 'stay home' out of spite over one candidate who you're not even SURE is bad (because you won't even give her a hearing), and then let two or three ones you're REALLY going to object to slip by while you're pissed that you didn't get your way.

The consequences stretch far beyond one or two elections, and if people would just calm down and let this process play out, I think they might see that. That's why we *have* a deliberative process - to let all the blather settle and let people think things out at a slower pace. I distrust anyone who wants to rush the process or short-circuit it. Let it play out. If she is shown to be unsuitable, so be it. I have no problem with that. If her nomination is torpedoed before she's even heard, a LOT of people are going to think that something fundamentally unfair just occurred - that the President was strong-armed by a vocal minority into withdrawing his nominee before the American people even got to hear her and judge for themselves. Better to keep things in the open.

I am, first and foremost, a process person. We don't arrive at these things randomly - experiences shows that as painful and inefficient as the process is, we do learn something from it. And there's no need to try to jump to the finish when we haven't even started yet.

That is all I'm saying and all I have ever said. Let it play out so the people can see government working.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2005 12:05 PM

That is always the answer from the Republicans. It explains our budget.

My statement also explains why the Libertarian Party can't get elected. I'm sorry, but I like being on the winning team. I can at least get some of what I want.

I just happen to think that SCOTUS is a battle worth having.

...and if it plays bad with the public, loses control of congress in the '06 elections, maybe loses '08 to Hillary (with the SCOTUS implications there), solidifies the false perception of losing the WOT which we are nonetheless winning currently, and possibly snatching defeat in the WOT from the Jaws of Victory? Will it be worth having then?

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 12, 2005 12:06 PM

Cass, I'm not taking anything personally. As you know, I will drink the Kool-aid persented at the time if that is my best choice.

MM, would you be making these same arguments against Bush for nominating Luttig or Brown if one of them had been the nominee? I don't think this is an argument that can have it both ways. Either Bush is right to avoid the fight. Or he is wrong and should have picked someone in obvious support of the Scalia/Thomas wing. You say he right. I say he is wrong. No one is arguing that Miers was the first pick, the best pick or the obvious pick. She was the avoid a fight pick. What a victorious position.

It also sounds like you are saying that the Republican version of a good judge won't play to the people. It would cost the Reps the Senate and the House? (I don't think so) So Bush is winning with fraud? (I'll admit that might be true)

I happen to think that the Reps look bad when they don't stand up for their beliefs. This is one of those times.

The Reps deserve to lose the Senate and the House. They haven't delivered on their promises as a party.

The President? Well, that is an individual job. I will decide when I see the choices.

Posted by: KJ at October 12, 2005 01:01 PM

No, i'm not saying it will happen. Just that both possibilities must be weighed in order to make a proper decision. I know I don't have all the info needed to know which is the right decision, which is why I'm not prepared to call either position stupid or chickenshit. Right now it just is.

And I'm pretty sure you don't either.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 12, 2005 01:12 PM


I don't see how either one of you can possibly be right. You're both men.

Menace has a definite advantage due to his youth, beefcakitude, and the kitten factor, but there is still the undeniable fact of his obvious male-ness to be considered. Hard to overcome...

KJ, on the otter heiny, is an attorney and a white male Christian oinker. Need I say more?

Only a woman has the moral authority to weigh in on this issue :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2005 01:21 PM

As a white male Christian oinker, I think I have the right to supress your view Cass. Female moral authority ends at the kitchen door.

*running away ducking and weaving bullets*

Posted by: KJ at October 12, 2005 01:24 PM

As long as you keep making me smile.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2005 01:25 PM

I told you, no woman can resist the power of a kitten.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 12, 2005 01:33 PM

Well, well, well.
We don't really know much about Harriet Miers as a lawyer and about her legal acumen (yet!), but what do we know, ....at..this... juncture?
1. This choice has energized and united the Republican party.
2. This choice has laid down a clear idealogical viewpoint of the Constitution by the President.
Unclear at this point, but probably NO.
3. This choice has pleased the Gang of 14 (Senators, D & R, united to avoid a filibuster and the dreaded nuclear option).
Yes, at this point in time.
4. This choice has encouraged Harry Reid (Democrat Senate Minority Leader) to call for a filibuster.
NO, at this point.
5. This choice has enhanced the approval ratings of GWB, with his "base" and others (generally, Republicans).

So to summarize my little list, the nomination of Ms. Miers seems to at this point to have oiled the waters of bi-partisanship (because she is an unknown quantity) and roiled the waters of the Republican party (because she is an unknown quantity).
Unknown quantity = Stealth Candidate for SCOTUS.

PS. I read on NRO, "The Corner" today that someone guessed that Ms. Miers might have been a last second choice (Plan B), because someone else (Plan A) backed down or refused or something like that, at the last minute. She might indeed be a stalking horse until a new "Plan A" candidate emerges.
Or not.
Stay tuned.

PPS. Does Harriet Miers' nomination to SCOTUS represent the politcal equivalent of "regression to the mean"?

Posted by: David at October 12, 2005 01:34 PM

Well, I was kind of seeing Cass's view of holding off and giving Miers a chance, despite the fact that I believe Bush made a foolish choice in picking her. Then I got to read the shrill moderate posters on VC and the rest of the blogosphere, and got all riled up again.

This reminds me of when Bush the Elder got elected in 1988. He ran on a conservative platform to continue Reagan's policies, i.e. "four more years of the same".

The truth was that he always hated Reagan. It is the same type of arrogant disdain all the moderate, country club republicans have for the true conservatives. It wasn't long before the snide comments were coming out of the White House about "those damn conservatives" finally being gone, Reagan was a bumpkin, etc. Talk about biting the hand that fed you.

I had hoped that GOP moderates were so because they at least "got" some of the conservative message, if not all of it. Judging from the posts of the strident moderates on VC, they don't. They apparently see conservatives as some sort of weird, hillbilly holy roller-types that you feel obligated to be nice to at the family reunion picnic.

Now that conservatives have gotten uppitty, rather than just going along to git along, the moderates are outraged at their effrontery.

I am a conservative. You moderates can mock me all you want and belittle the principles I hold dear. You can say that I need to compromise my principles and be more pragmatic like you moderates are. You will not sway me.

If I had no principles, I would be a liberal. If I believed in selling out my principles, haggling to get the best price for them like some rug merchant in the bazaar, I would be a moderate.

By its very nature, conservatism abhors the "pragmatism" you espouse. Therefore, all you are doing is driving a deeper wedge between the political factions. I thought Bush was more politically astute than that. Conservatives have had a great deal of patience with Bush, primarily because they approve of his handling re the WOT. Patience does not mean that they are willing to be overlooked and taken for granted; particularly on a hot-button issue like SCOTUS.

But, maybe we conservatives should be more as you suggest. Maybe we should stop being the land of the free and the home of the brave, and instead be the ultimate pragmatists -- like France. Bravery is not really a pragmatic trait after all. It leads to a lot of unnecessary deaths.

Look at those idjuts at the Alamo! Why, a moderate would have counted up the numbers, seen there was no way they could win, and just all run away. How about the airborne troops at Bastogne in WWII? They were overwhelmingly outnumbered and surrounded by Nazi forces. They should have done the math and surrendered to save themselves, even if it would have let the Germans crack the Western Front in half and push the allies back into the sea. Stupid conservatives always wanting to do the "right thing" rather than the expedient thing! History does not honor such men, but reviles them for their stupidity, doesn't it?

Yup, I still remember when the Marines refused to storm the beaches at Iwo Jima. They weren't stupid enough to charge ahead into certain death -- no way! They did the pragmatic thing and brought forward their finest diplomats to negotiate a landing with the Japanese. All moderate americans were thrilled to see the classic photo of the joint Japanese-American flag raising of their respective colors over Mount Suribachi.

Remember all those famous Hollywood movies where John Wayne played the polished, dandified, diplomat, negotiating our way to limited victory? The public would have never gone to see him in some movie about heroism and bravery and all that Neanderthal-type stuff.

I suppose I am forced to agree with you moderates. Only those who sell out their principles and refuse to "fight the good fight" are those who are respected and admired by the public. I have much to learn. I will start removing my spine, vertebra by vertebra, to better fit in with this GOP "big tent" of which you speak.

Posted by: a former european at October 12, 2005 07:09 PM

Sorry I'm not ideologically pure enough for you AFE.

Although I'm starting to wonder who's kicking whom out of the tent.

Posted by: Masked Menace at October 12, 2005 07:41 PM

Please think about what you are saying. We all become impassioned in the heat of an argument. It has happened to every single one of us at one time or another. People can debate the effectiveness of a tactic without that being an attempt to "force" you to do something - that's an exaggeration. They can even get annoyed with you, just as you have with them.

We started as friends, did we not? The world is not a very nice place, and sometimes friendship is all we have at the end of the day. Words can destroy that so easily.

It's not Friday yet, but y'all have a couple of virtual beers on me (sorry, you'll have to imagine the virtual bartenders) and a good laugh at my expense :) I am heartily sorry I ever brought this topic up. I'm fonder than I can possibly express of all of you. After you're done arguing, just promise to kiss and make up.

But for God's sake, don't make a video - I don't want to see the first guy-on-guy blog action up on KJ's site.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2005 08:17 PM

I am sorry afe, I made some mocking comments but your last post before I did I found your comments offensive. I do not blindly follow anyone, nor have I sacrificed any principles by keeping an open mind on this.

Did it ever occur to anyone that Bush and company might just be privy to some information we don't have? Like the possibility that given the squishy nature of the Senate that we would not be able to get a nominee through that KJ has heard of and is pure enough for you?

Stop acting like some sort of victim, leave that to the left, and stop accusing people you should know enough about of selling out principles,

Posted by: Pile On at October 12, 2005 09:16 PM

Tell you what: if y'all wanna strip to the waist and mud-wrassle, I volunteer to rudely objectify your sorry asses :)

Crap. I forgot how to make that pig emoticon thingy.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2005 09:23 PM

Did Reagan sell out his principles when he spent like a drunken sailor to the tune of over 6% of GDP (Bush is just over 4%)? Or did he do what had to be done to acheive the important goals of lowering taxes to revive the economy and rebuild the economy?

Would the country be better off had he martyred himself at the alter of conservative purity?

Posted by: Pile On at October 12, 2005 09:30 PM

That should read rebuild the military...

Posted by: Pile On at October 12, 2005 09:31 PM

"I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." A. Lincoln, 1861.

I am conservative in nature, but a Republican, now and into the future, as were a string of my ancestors, since the day when this speech was given.
I'm not angry about arguing over ideas, but it is best to make your words sweet, as you might have to eat them someday.
Vaya con Dios, friends.

Posted by: David at October 12, 2005 10:11 PM

I am not a Republican. I could care less about the party. I am tired of Bush's domestic spending and lack on domestic backbone on ANY subject.

Pile, no Reagan did what needed to be done. He cut other spending though. Eliminated a few Federal agencies even. Remember the ICC? Bush has grown EVERYTHING faster than inflation. Apples/Oranges.

"Did it ever occur to anyone that Bush and company might just be privy to some information we don't have? " I used to think that about the WMD. You'll see I said. I will never assume Bush knows anything again. Why should I? [I still think he made the right call. I still back Bush in the WOT. But I know now we pretty much had the whole story. What a disappointment.]

I love you guys! [Said loudly, drunkenly, holding up a large beer glass] Even though I feel as though I have driven Cassandra off, I never intended to hurt any feelings or accuse any of improper motives. If we were Congress, the fights would be better, the outcomes would be better and the parties would be great.

Posted by: KJ at October 12, 2005 10:43 PM

I told you KJ, if you'd just strip to the waist and get down in there in the mud with Pile and afe, I'd hang around just for the spectacle of the thing.

Of course David is going to harsh my mellow by refusing to fight :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 12, 2005 10:47 PM

The ICC? Puhleaze, try again. Spending tripled under Reagan. Did anyone know in 88 what a difference his policies had made on the world? No. Were the short sighted complaining about spending? Sure.

Are you know playing the lefts no WMD card? Is that what this has come to? Are you comparing intel on Saddam, who did everything he could to look guilty, with every major intelligence service thinking he had WMD to the Bush administrations info on how the Senate might vote?

Good freaking night.

Posted by: Pile On at October 12, 2005 10:56 PM

I'm not mad at anyone. Puzzled, confused, and shocked? Sure. But certainly not mad.

I guess I just don't understand why saying "Eh, not my preferred choice, but it'll probably do" should be met with cries of "HERETIC" and "BLASPHEMER"?

I must also say that getting rhetorically shot at due to insufficient dedication to "The Cause" by someone who ran away from the Communist Bloc seems, Oh I don't know...backward?

Posted by: Masked Menace at October 13, 2005 12:49 AM

I don't hate anybody here, quite the opposite. Like I said, I respect Cass's opinions and that's why she had me pretty much convinced to wait it out and suspend judgment for now. Until I started reading some of the other posters for the "moderate" take on this issue.

Everybody has some hot-button issues, and reducing everything to a political calculus is one of mine. There is right and there is wrong. I cringe at the willingness of some to go the moral relativist route and mock the conservatives who won't do the same.

My military analogies were an attempt to point out that sometimes it is better to do the right thing, no matter what the cost.

The guys at the Alamo were wiped out, but bought time for Sam Houston to form an army and defeat the Mexicans in the long run. Against all odds and hope, the paratroopers at Bastogne held out and were a major reason the Nazi offensive was defeated. The marines bravely charged into a hail of machine gun fire at Iwo Jima and are honored for it. Am I the only guy out there that gets choked up at that picture of the marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi?

I say this to oppose the notion that this was a fight that couldn't be won, that there would be a filibuster, that there would be republican defections in the Senate, etc. Those who argue this point are making a big, unjustified assumption. You don't know how this would have played out if, say, Janice Rogers Brown had been nominated. You just assume it would go a certain way to justify your weakness.

Running from a fight that you know is right and just should stick in every real american's craw. Our history is replete with proud examples of brave men and women who did, or were willing to, sacrifice everything to do what is right. You (the general "you"), on the other hand, think its foolish to merely risk some political capital to do what is right. I find that appalling.

This is why beancounters rarely make good generals. People are inspired by leadership, bravery and heroism in the face of adversity, and personal integrity/commitment. They are not inspired by "realists" who crunch the numbers and check to see which way the prevailing political winds are blowing. A number cruncher like Bush the Elder will never get the "vision thing" that Reagan understood instinctively.

Bush seems a curious admixture of both viewpoints. Conservative, strong, and visionary re the WOT, yet strangely weak domestically. This nomination is where he needed to pull a Teddy Roosevelt and charge up San Juan Hill at the head of his troops. The morale of the troops would have skyrocketed, and they would have followed him to the gates of Hell (Congress) itself. Instead, he wimped out and the morale of the troops has plummeted. That morale will not be restored by pointing out how many men and guns the enemy had, how they were so invincible, and how reasonable and prudent we were to not try taking the hill. Berating the troops for being too enthusiastic and gung ho will not help either.

I thought that with all the military, ex-military, wives/husbands of military, who post here, these basic principles of morale and leadership would be understood. They have been universal throughout history. If the troops begin to think that their leader, at whatever level in the chain of command, lacks the courage to lead them into combat, the army is done. They simply will have no confidence in that leader and will start disobeying orders, deserting, etc.

The conservatives are starting to think that Bush lacks the courage to lead them into combat against the Democrats, and morale, along with confidence in his leadership, has plummeted. No manner of cold calculation or clever justification will restore the moral authority he has lost or convince the troops that they are following anyone other than a coward, and troops will NOT follow someone they believe (rightly or wrongly) to be a coward. Instead, the base of support just melts away until the army is gone.

Posted by: a former european at October 13, 2005 12:58 AM

Masked Menace, unlike you, I have not singled out anyone here for personal insult. Cass may have been offended, but I was actually crediting her for convincing me to reluctantly see things her way, until some other rabid moderates undid that.

Your comment about the Communist Bloc was incredibly ignorant and well beneath you. Having known you for some time, I was genuinely surprised that you would make such a cheap shot. I always thought better of you.

Posted by: a former european at October 13, 2005 01:09 AM

Masked Menace, unlike you, I have not singled out anyone here for personal insult.

No, you just threw out general insults at multiple people.

And secondly, I did single you out, but I didn't insult you.

Perhaps that last comment was a cheap shot, but taking offense at a lack of fervor is exactly what you did. Sorry.

Posted by: Masked Menace at October 13, 2005 01:21 AM

Look - this is my fault. I should have left a long time ago. Then you could be fighting over whether Miers is really Alberto Gonzalez in drag over at KJ's or spd's place.

None of this is half as important as it seems right now. It is important, but it is not that important. In the annals of history, it's just a minor blip.

But you guys have been far more important than that to me, and you should be to each other whether or not it's manly to admit that.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 13, 2005 01:35 AM

afe, where are these rabid moderate comments you keep refering to? I can't find them. You keep talking about running away from a fight, I don't see it that way, even Sam Houston only fought the fights he thought he could win. Perhaps we as conservatives will get everything we want from Miers, and will have won without all the bloodshed. Wouldn't that be smart leadership? We don't know what we have with her, but then we never do.

Cass, if this isn't how you want it to end, I guess you will have to keep writing for a while.

All you guys suck, piss off.

Pile out

Posted by: Pile On at October 13, 2005 06:47 AM

Just when I thought my disappointment could not reach new lows, you proved me wrong, Pile.

Your entire argument rests on the assumption that nominating a strong, proven conservative was "a fight we couldn't win". How can you possibly know that? I call it surrendering before the first shot was fired.

I have made two long posts on this thread to try and explain why sometimes you fight the good fight irrespective of whether you think you can win or not (Alamo), that sometimes you win despite what seemed like long odds at first (Bastogne), and that sometimes you just have to suck it up and pay the cost to get the right thing done (Iwo Jima).

Its obvious to me that no one is bothering to listen to the arguments anymore. Positions have now become entrenched, and only venting of anger and spewing of insults is left. Cass had the right idea that the only thing left to do is walk away. I'm done.

Posted by: a former european at October 13, 2005 07:34 AM

I have lived in West Germany and have seen the policies of the Soviets in the Eastern Bloc.
Running away from it? Did you know that the border between East and West Germany was mined on the SOVIET side to keep people in?

The Second Armored Cavalry Division's job was to protect defectors by standing between them and those who were firing on them, as well as other jobs. But that was it in a nutshell.

The one thing that repressive governments do is arouse opposition in people. And people left the Eastern bloc in droves at the expense of their lives and their families' lives because the West offered something they didn't have: Hope and a level playing field.

Lest you think that running away is a cowardly thing to do, I might remind you of a Cuban woman, who died to bring her son to this country, only to have him taken from this and sent back to Papa Castro, courtesy of Auntie Janet Reno.

As to this nomination, I have stayed out of this
contest because I lack the wit and education to
make intelligent and reasoned insights, which is why I come here.

But so what if Miers is an unknown quantity? Let the Senate do their *ahem* job and see how she stands up to the scrutiny.

Cass, I think you need to spank them all and send them to their corners.

You all mean a great deal to me and let us not end it like this. We don't need to have a group hug,
but can't we at least think before we post?


Posted by: Cricket at October 13, 2005 08:44 AM

Cricket, I'm not saying running away from the communist bloc is cowardly, far from it.

What I'm saying is that the communists would routinely punish/shoot those who did not display the desired dedication to the communist party. I.E. those who stopped clapping too soon after a party speach were shot.

AFE was hurling insults at Cass, Pile, myself, and others "moderates" (first time I've ever been called that) for the same reason, we're not staunch enough.

Posted by: Masked Menace at October 13, 2005 09:09 AM

Last night about 2 am I typed a comment and then erased it, because I thought it was too harsh and I was treating you all like children. But it was basically a threat to delete the entire site (which I don't have backed up anywhere) immediately rather than watch this continue.

I really did not want to do that because my husband has always wanted me to compile my writings and do something with them, and they'd be lost forever. But I was ready to do it.

I wish I had done that now.

One of the reasons I am leaving is the growing realization that I have an awful lot of illusions and blogging makes it very hard for me to go about life on a day-to-day basis. I don't seem to know how to block things - people - out the way other people do, and I'm just getting too beaten up. And I can't stop caring about things, and it's just tearing me up inside. I used to bounce right back, but that's not happening anymore.

And I want my privacy back. I want to be just me - this is too public and that has always made me intensely uncomfortable. I made a deliberate decision to set that aside because you all are important to me and I didn't want to be one of those bloggers who is disengaged and aloof. But this isn't a private venue and the personal cost is too high.

And now you all are fighting and saying horrible things to each other and I don't understand it.

All this does is reinforce my feeling that nothing I have done for the past 2 years has meant anything at all. I know no one asked me to do anything, but I have really given my heart and soul even though my husband keeps telling me I'm a fool. All I ever wanted, really, was to create a space where people felt welcomed. Where they could come and talk civilly, and maybe lose their cares for a few moments, and share a few laughs, and find some other intelligent people.

The world is such a sad place. Did I fail, even in this?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 13, 2005 09:20 AM

You didn't fail. I think this is a guy thing.
I don't believe you should walk away from blogging, but maybe when it gets contentious, delete the comments and keep the post.

It is a healthy thing to express one's beliefs and opinions, but quite another to get mean spirited about it.

I read and re read all of your posts that make me think. I don't often comment (see aforementioned reasons of wit, education, etc.) not because I am afraid of getting taken to the woodshed, but because I tend to be overly simplistic and I think very much in terms of black and white.

I come here precisely to get others' PsOV because of their education and experience, age, lack thereof, whatever. I have learned so much that is invaluable to me.

Being a SAHM and hating television the way I do means that I am limited in getting news and views and interacting with it. I get tired of being told what to think by the likes of Judy Woodruff and Dan Rather and yes, even Rush Limbaugh.

I come to blogs like yours, Michelle's and others because there is a difference, a disagreement and I get moved from my comfort zone. My synapses and my mind get a workout.

Please don't delete your blog and your posts. You have made a difference to me in so many ways. But, if you believe and know it is the right thing to do, at least back up what you have written.

It is intelligent, well reasoned and well stated.
I do believe you would make a stellar political writer and do very well at it. Please, shop your
writing around and see what happens.

Either way, I am rooting for you.

Posted by: Cricket at October 13, 2005 09:45 AM

First, let me address a comment to me: Pile, each of your questions to me (second paragraph) has an answer: No.

Second: the debate here has become unordinarily heated for this group of insiders. But we've done this before. Cass, it's OK. We are all going to have a beer soon and laugh. I'm sorry that you internalize these disputes and that we have invaded your space in this way. I'll quit talking about it here.

If any of you want to insult or attack me, you are always welcome at the Cheese. I of course will always be checking in at Ebb & Flow and Heigh-Ho. I would hate to lose contact with everyone, even when we disagree. What Cass may not realize (or she may) is that she provided the meeting hall for us. We only occassionally talked elsewhere. I'm not suggesting that she owes the rest of us anything. We owe her. But this will affect us all.

I look outside my window and it is (figuratively and literally) raining.

What a depressing fckng day.

Posted by: KJ at October 13, 2005 09:54 AM

If any of you want to insult or attack me, you are always welcome at the Cheese.

Stubborn Mule! Hey, you asked for it. :-)

This comment is also cross-posted at The Cheese.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 13, 2005 10:04 AM

None of you has invaded my space, and it's not your fault that I take everything too much to heart. I have knowingly made some bad decisions, and I'm the one who can't handle it KJ.

Some people can - I can't, and remain me. That's all.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 13, 2005 10:08 AM

And you'd better be nice now, or I won't go away.

I'll hang around your fricking blogs like I did with Scott and clog your comments sections, you'll have to delete my comments and ban my IP address.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 13, 2005 10:11 AM

Oh, to have actual humans leaving messages and stalking me. What I wouldn't give for that.

Posted by: Lonely Man at October 13, 2005 10:13 AM

Oooooooohhh I read KJ's party comment. The parties would NOT be great if Hillary were to attend.

MM, point taken, but it still rankled me a bit when I first read it. I am not some PC type but having lived just six miles away from it, and having to be prepared in case of an invasion was a bit much for me.

This nation is so very blessed in so many ways and having seen a bit of the sacrifice that the military makes to secure the blessings of liberty for us all means that we need to keep vigilant and fight the good fight.

Now, here I would break into song and sing "Impossible Dream" but I won't do that to you or anyone else here.

Suffice it to say that it isn't the beginning or the end, but the journey itself.

I await with baited (pun intended) breath to see what happens with Our Gal Harriet.

Now that you have all had your dose of fluff...


Posted by: Cricket at October 13, 2005 10:30 AM


You're a sweet gal, and not a piece of "fluff" by any means.
Take care.

Posted by: David at October 13, 2005 12:51 PM

*whistling "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do"*

Posted by: spd rdr at October 13, 2005 07:47 PM

Perfect, spd, and a Billie Holiday song to boot (Bessie Smith for those who care). I ain't no tech wench so lyrics will have to suffice. If you want the sound clip, you'll have to ask Cass, or buy the album. Better yet, do both:)

Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do

There ain't nothing I can do
or nothing I can say
that folks don't criticze me
but I'm gonna do
just as I want to anyway,
and don't care just what people say.

If I should take a notion
to jump into the ocean,
ain't nobody's business if I do.
If I go to church on Sunday,
then cabaret all day Monday...
ain't nobody's business if I do

Nobody's business if you do....

Posted by: portia at October 13, 2005 09:16 PM

That is a good one, but the song that keeps playing in my head is this one:

Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather...

All I do is pray the lord above
will let me walk in the sun once more.
Stormy weather...
Keeps rainin’ all the time

Anyway, I hear this weekend is supposed to be lovely.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 14, 2005 02:40 AM

Ah, there is nothing like standing in an early fall rain, outside the condo of your most recent love to whom you have dedicated your entire existence only to be denied entrance at her condominium gate by some jerk guard so that you had to scale a fence and stand in the courtyard and stare longingly up at her balcony or at least you think it is her balcony since she never actually let you go home with her but you followed her home from the bar she frequents after work until you narrowed her balcony down to one or two on that side of the building.

When I finish this bottle of whiskey, I think I'll write a love message on her car with my keys, go home, and pass out on my couch thinking about my true love.

Fall time rain showers -- they are great.

Posted by: Lonely Man at October 14, 2005 10:32 AM

You are such a fool :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 14, 2005 01:41 PM

I love you.


Posted by: Cricket at October 14, 2005 02:51 PM

You know, I really do not know what I am going to do without you guys.

I love you too Cricket.

Double heh...

Posted by: Cassandra at October 14, 2005 03:47 PM

Like you knew anymore what to do *with* us either. :-p

Posted by: Masked Menace© at October 14, 2005 05:24 PM

Well, Public Humiliation is always an option
or cyber stocks.

Posted by: Cricket at October 14, 2005 07:00 PM

I thought I did that already with the kitten picture.

Posted by: Masked Menace at October 14, 2005 07:17 PM

Nah, you were just showing us your soft side, ya big

Posted by: Cricket at October 14, 2005 07:53 PM

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