From my vast sea of readers out there, I’ve gotten more than the usual volume of responses to my posting yesterday morning that David Frum’s report in his diary (about views of Miers inside the Bush White House) made me think of the sad and brief tenure of Justice Charles Whittaker, a detail-obsessive judge who imploded from the stress of life on the Supreme Court. Thanks to those who thought it an interesting or insightful comparison. But some readers were upset with my thinking out loud about this possible parallel, and wished I had just kept my thoughts to myself.
I knew that reflexive Miers supporters, or Bush supporters, would find the comparison offensive. It mollified them not at all that I said in my final paragraph that I had no knowledge that would make a prediction in Miers’s case possible to make on my part. One reader even thought that saving such a “disclaimer” to the end showed what a low snake I am. Well, I suppose. But let me clarify: I offered no opinion of my own, none whatever, on the psyche of Harriet Miers or her ability to handle the undeniable stress of the Court’s work (a pressure that I find fearsome to contemplate myself). I speculated. I raised a question based on a superficially plausible historical precedent, concerning a man described in ways very similar to what Frum was reporting about Miers. Of these sins I am surely guilty. They strike me as the characteristic “sins” of impromptu blogs. But I did not say what I thought about Miers in this respect because I have no opinion to offer.
My favorite reader, though, was the one who accused me of sexism, since I suggested somehow that a female nominee to the Court might collapse under the pressure of the workload. Funny, but I thought the question I was musing about was whether Harriet Miers would go down the same tragic path as Charles Whittaker. Notice the problem with the sexism charge?