October 7, 2005

Sycophantic Or Sincere?

I thought Taranto was on top of his game today, you know, in that other league he plays in. Lots more after his comments on the Miers nomination:

When President Bush nominated Harriet Miers on Monday, we saw it as a missed opportunity. It left us underwhelmed, not appalled. But having spent last evening communing here with some 1,000 conservatives at National Review's 50th anniversary dinner, we see a political disaster in the making.

We talked to quite a few people, and we heard not a single kind word about the nomination from anyone who wasn't on the White House staff. A couple of our soundings led us to think that such support as it has received has been more sycophantic than sincere. One putative proponent privately distanced himself from his public praise of Miers. Another person, whose employer has strongly backed the Miers nomination, told us, "Of course, I disagree wholeheartedly."

The White House seems genuinely befuddled by the intensity of conservative opposition, and especially stung by the harsh words of George Will and Trent Lott. The White House position seems to be that Bush gave the Supreme Court an excellent leader in Chief Justice John Roberts (on this point, of course, we agree wholeheartedly), and that what the president was seeking in his second pick was not someone with "sharp elbows" but a reliable "conservative" vote.

This is similar to the left's description of Clarence Thomas as a mere follower of Antonin Scalia. If the White House adopting this invidious caricature as its ideal, conservatives have every reason to be angry.

Conventional wisdom still has it that Miers is a shoo-in for confirmation. We're not so sure. From what we saw last night, the right is furious at President Bush for appointing someone they see as manifestly underqualified and for ducking a fight with the Democratic left--a fight that, in their view (and ours), would be good for the country, the conservative cause and the Republican Party.

Bush may be getting a fight anyway. And while he can laugh off the Angry Left, which would never support him no matter what he did, the Angry Right is a force he'd be a fool to misunderestimate.

Posted by dan at October 7, 2005 9:06 PM