Friday, October 21, 2005

What's all the fuss about Harriet Miers?

Miers' only crime seems to have been thinking the President is one of the great leaders in American life, and not being reticent in expressing that sentiment -- an experience most mainstream media journalists have never experienced being said to/about them, and thus cynically concluding, she only said it trying to advance her own career ambitions -- as they would. Maybe she's not like them but is instead sincere and genuine -- something these columnists could never dare to imagine.

What is disturbing is this knee-jerk rush to prejudge, fomented by the demagogues of every stripe. Prejudice is prejudice, no matter what noble calling one claims it serves.


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At October 21, 2005 10:34 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

That's what the mass media is still all about -- the control of the mass mind. Nothing makes them happier than everybody at each other's throats, questioning each other's motives, dividing us into one more factionalism, second-guessing our duly-elected representatives and undermining their every effort.

Surely these columnists must have something else to do besides telling the President how to be the president -- and justifying that usurpation of power by inviting everybody else to join in also. Resist the temptation to express an opinion just because one can -- based upon opinions based upon opinions based upon opinions...

At October 23, 2005 3:57 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Charles Fried is a professor of law at Harvard, and he served this country very ably as solicitor general during Ronald Reagan's second term. He is also an intellectual's intellectual. Among the legal elite, he is revered. If you don't remember the caliber of an individual Professor Fried is, read his bio here.

Professor Fried writes an op-ed in Sunday's Boston Globe that sums up the issues of importance in determining the fitness of Harriet Miers. It is full of logic and reason that gets lost in the rhetoric of George Will's Washington Post column.

In the first two paragraphs of Fried's column, he cites several examples that complete disprove the notion that a good justice must come from the appellate court farm club, or law school academia. History is replete with examples of why that is not so, and in fact, all of the hammering back and forth of her educational pedigree is just noise.

Here's the key to Miers' fitness, according to Professor Fried:

What is indispensable is that she be able to think lucidly and deeply about legal questions and express her thoughts in clear, pointed, understandable prose. A justice without those capabilities -- however generally intelligent, decent, and hardworking -- risks being a calamity for the court, the law, and the country.

In other words, can she think? President Bush thinks so.

It's now up to the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, to be able to ask questions that provoke Ms. Miers to show just how lucid she is or isn't. It's not about a game of Senate Jeopardy, where she has to give the correct answer in the form of a question to Arcane Case law for 2000, Arlen. If the Senate possesses enough intelligence in the Judiciary Committee, there will be ample opportunities to engage Ms. Miers to see how sharp she her reasoning abilites are. Now before you say there's no signs of intelligent life in the Judiciary Committee, considering its membership includes Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin, it does include members like Jon Kyl, John Cornyn, & Sam Brownback. These are not intellectual lightweights. They would do their party and the country a great deal of service by not giving Ms. Miers a pass out of party deference, and instead be challenging in their questioning.

I don't think the Democrats have it in them to ask a smart question. They'll grandstand and play gotcha, and Ms. Miers ought to be able to deflect enough to render them just as irrelevant as they were with John Roberts. But if the Republicans can be tough enough on her to make her prove herself, one of two things will happen. Either she'll show all of us she's not the dummy many on the right have been insinuating, and their criticisms will finally fade away, or she will not be able to perform up to acceptable standards, and the defeat of her nomination will pretty much take care of itself.

In any case, the closer we get to hearings, I think there's more pressure on the members of the Judiciary Committee than there is on Harriet Miers. She either has the intellectual chops to discuss legal reasoning, without commenting on possible cases that might come before her, or she doesn't. Two weeks of cramming won't be the deciding factor. She either can think, or she can't. That's what the Senate has to show in order to meet their obligation of advice and consent.

At October 23, 2005 7:59 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The rift is not between the left and the right, the liberals and the conservatives, but between the new and the old, the new thinkers and the defenders of the status quo. It's becoming more apparent that something much more profound is in play here eliciting these irrational responses and hysteria over different ways of doing things.

Will still defends the old elitism -- rather than the new egalitarianism that shifts the power from the old eastern liberal insitutions (Harvard, New York Times, Washington D.C.), to the populism founded in western, frontier, egalitarian impulses and independence. Anybody west of the Mississippi is considered a cowboy -- instead of the preferred effete intellectual snob.

It doesn't matter what the average LSAT score is at SMU versus Harvard is. What matters is success at adapting to the ambient culture. The greatest predictor of future success is past success. If one has been successful at anything they've done in the past, chances are good they'll continue to be successful at whatever they're doing.

Many of the most successful did not graduate from college at all. Edison, Dell, Gates, Lincoln.

At October 23, 2005 9:23 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Seen this yet? Sounds about right. "Ignore the man behind the curtain."

Word on the Hill is that the latest internal polls show that that inside the Beltway conservative pundits seem to speak only for and to themselves. After a barrage of opposition against Miers from them, the polls show only 7 percent of the members of the GOP who identify themselves as conservative oppose her nomination. Among all GOP members only 9 percent oppose her.

Most of those polled are willing to give the President’s choice the benefit of the doubt until they see how she handles questions at her hearing and express annoyance that the judges have made constitutional law an arcane art. They believe that the Consitution is not an incomprehensible document but rather a simple one, noting that those who felt otherwise were reading into it things they couldn’t—like a prohibition against prayer in the school and a requirement that the state sanction same sex marriage. Clarice Feldman 10 23 05

My basic feeling is that there's something wrong with government when one has to be a lawyer to understand it.

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