After Miers: Bush Needs to Reunite His Base
WASHINGTON, D.C.President Bush's abandonment of Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court, just as his Republican supporters in Congress were coming to her defense against the Christian right, can only deepen the divide in Congress and among the staunch supporters of the Reagan revolution. Even such conservative icons as Robert Bork and Rush Limbaugh implored the president to drop Miers.
Already the older Reagan stalwarts have constituted a rising chorus of complaint against Bush over the war. In a speech yesterday at the Bill Clinton School of Public Policy in Little Rock, John Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri and an Episcopal priest, said, "I think that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian right," he said in an interview after his talks. "I don't think that this is a permanent condition but I think this has happened, and that it's divisive for the country."
James Dobson, the popular right-wing evangelical pastor sought to staunch the attacks against Miers, saying Karl Rove had assured him she was okay on Christian values. Here is what he said in his October 11 radio broadcast:
Karl Rove had shared with me her judicial philosophy, which was consistent with the promises that President Bush had made when he was campaigning. Now he told the voters last year that he would select people to be on the court who would interpret the law rather than create it and judges who would not make social policy from the bench. Most of all, the president promised to appoint people who would uphold the Constitution and not use their powers to advance their own political agenda. Now, Mr. Rove assured me in that telephone conversation that Harriet Miers fit that description and that the president knew her well enough to say so with complete confidence.
But yesterday, the tide of criticism against Miers continued to rise, with warnings that young Bush could follow his father into oblivion. Father Bush earned Republican ire by raising taxes. "She's 60-years-old and has never written anything important," Phyllis Schlafly, head of the Eagle Forum, said of Miers in a recent speech at Harvard. "I don't buy this idea of just trusting the president. Millions of people voted for Bush solely because they believed he would change the direction of the court away from judicial activism. They feel betrayed.
So who's up next? Bush has to pick someone. It's likely back to basics: he can ingratiate himself across the conservative divide by naming an established right-wing jurist to the Supreme Court. Some already have backed out, but with a little arm-twisting, who knows?
In the early summer, a list of possible candidates for the court included:
And in the distance:
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