The Corner

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No Hack


Hugh Hewitt is no hack. Read his last post and you’ll know.
One of the things that makes Hugh’s post so great is that he drops the
elitism bit. The whole hack/elitism thing is silly, wrong, and
counterproductive. I hope it’s over. And Hugh’s right to be ticked
at the tendency to read Miers supporters out of the conservative
movement, the Republican coalition, or whatever you want to call it.
Thank goodness we’ve got Hugh on our side­and he is on our side,
despite all the differences on Miers.

As for the issue I’ve focused on, I don’t claim certainty on
Miers and Bollinger. But I do see more than sufficient reason to
oppose, and oppose strongly. It isn’t just her support for the Bar
Association quotas. In fact, it isn’t even mostly that. Her
“passionate” support for those quotas just confirms what her support
for the feminist lecture series, her reported White House role in the
Michigan case, and her Texas political career (achieved through an
alliance with feminists) suggests. Miers believes in affirmative
action. Am I absolutely certain that she will be another O’Connor or
worse on that issue? No. Am I certain that the signs are about as
bad as they can get without a signed declaration of how she’ll vote. Unfortunately, yes.

But Hugh is correct to point to the congressional elections as
the key to all this. From the start I’ve argued that the political
dangers of the nuclear option, and the Republican senate’s own desire
to avoid a politically dangerous fight, are behind the Miers
nomination. John Fund confirms this in his latest column, where he
notes that several possible conservative appointments were nixed by
Republican senators. Hugh acknowledges that the politics of rejecting
the nomination could cut either way, yet he seems fairly certain that
rejection of Miers will be far more politically harmful than confirmation.

I’m not convinced of that. Was Richard Nixon really
critically weakened, as Hugh says, by Senate rejection of Haynesworth
and Carswell? That’s not my recollection. Certainly it didn’t
prevent a Nixon landslide in 1972. I think a strong conservative
nomination in place of Miers would reunite the coalition. I’m not
sure we can successfully pull off the nuclear option. And that might
endanger some moderate Republicans, and thus the Republican majority
itself. But even a failed attempt to put through a great conservative
would likely fire up Republican voters as much­or more­than a victory.

Hugh’s argument is powerful, no doubt about it. But in the
end, I think it suffers from the same problem as the Miers nomination
itself. It’s too clever. Yes, people are strategic, to an extent.
That’s why conservatives swallowed their disappointments for years.
They knew the strategy was to get a good conservative on the court.
But people cannot be entirely tactical. In the end, the real populist
argument is that you’ve got to give people something that moves
them­something that hits them at their core. Asking folks to get on
board because it’s too late and messy to do otherwise isn’t going to
get the political results Hugh wants, even if Miers is confirmed. The
disappointment is too palpable for that. Anyway, we’re having a
worthy debate. I’m glad Hugh’s in it­ and very much on our side.