Bench Memos

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Soft Bigotry


I am an ardent admirer of Laura Bush. BUT (you could see coming, no?) she doesn’t know what she is talking about when she agrees to the proposition advanced by the Today show’s Matt Lauer that the opposition to Harriet Miers springs in part from sexism.

I’ve posted about this before, but it bears repeating: If Ms. Harriet Miers were instead Mr. Harry Miers, former managing partner of a large Dallas law firm, former head of the Texas Lottery, former president of the Texas Bar, former staff secretary and deputy chief of staff to the president, and current White House counsel–in short, if all the facts we now have about Miers were exactly the same but she were a he–the crescendo of criticism from all quarters would be deafening. A male nominee, otherwise identical to Miers, would probably have been withdrawn already by now. More to the point, he probably wouldn’t have been nominated in the first place.

The president, in his first campaign, referred memorably to affirmative action as the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” It is more than possible, it is probable, that the president, his administration, and their enlistees in the public debate over Harriet Miers are guilty themselves of precisely this form of bigotry.

I say all this still clinging–manfully–to my previously stated position that Harriet Miers may well prove herself to the public, the legal community, and the Senate in her confirmation hearings (if she survives that long). But she is not the choice I would have made, and I put it to her defenders that she is not the choice the president would have made if she were a man.


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