Friday, October 28, 2005

What Plame is Really About

With indictments handed down against Scooter Libby, and with the media obsessing over how the investigation may uncover Bush Administration "lies" in the "run up to war" (never mind the incident ocurred after the war started!), Roger Simon lays it out plain as day: we all knew what was going on when it was going on:
As the for the run-up to the war, in looking back I think it was a big game of charades that everybody understood. Despite what was said, the obvious US motivation was geo-political. We wanted the despot Saddam out of the Middle East and replaced by a democracy. The French and the Russians - never particularly interested in democracy in the first place - desperately wanted to keep their cash cow in office. Everybody knew this, so the dreaded WMDs had to be emphasized in front of the UN. Never mind that whether Saddam had nuclear and other such weapons now or later was essentially irrelevant as long as he was in power and able to use them, never mind the supposedly missing weapons could be hidden at this moment in Syria, Lebanon or Iran (or even Iraq of course), never mind that there actually is a fledgling democracy in Iraq seemingly applauded by a vast majority of Iraqis, the weapons have been pronounced non-existent and the war a mistake.

Of course the real mistake was this emphasis on WMDs instead of a more honest declaration of the what the war was really about - democracy. On that score it hasn't fared that badly, all things considered. But still the focus must be kept on missing WMDs.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Motives Behind "Soft" Power

Anti-war activists accused the U.S. of invading Iraq for oil. Well, it appears that some countries were interested in Iraq's oil, and tried to use their "soft" power to protect those interests.
More than 2,000 companies taking part in the United Nations oil-for-food programme paid illegal surcharges and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, an inquiry has found.

Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, has delivered a fifth and final report, which details how thousands of companies and individuals around the world were involved in illegal transactions to circumvent the UN programme. . . "the country with the most companies involved was Russia, followed by France."

The 500-page report said companies in 66 countries paid kickbacks on selling Iraq humanitarian goods and companies from 40 countries paid surcharges on oil contracts but the UN Security Council took little action.

The program, which began in December 1996 and ended in 2003, was aimed at easing the impact of UN sanctions imposed in 1990 after Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait. It achieved considerable success in feeding Iraqis, and allowed Iraq to sell oil in order to pay for food, medicine and other goods.

Preferential treatment was given to companies from France, Russia and China, the report says, all permanent members of the Security Council, who were more favorable to lifting the 1990 sanctions than the America and Britain.

My take on the Plame thing... the same as Mark Levin's:
And in an Alice In Wonderland-like storyline, the same media that demand confidentiality for their sources as a First Amendment right, also demand the identity of Bob Novak’s sources and the names of administration officials who’ve spoken to the media. They cheer the very criminal investigation they once claimed endangered their profession. Meanwhile, who’s under investigation? Not Plame and Wilson, who appear to have hatched this scandal, but those truly victimized by it — administration officials who, it appears, sought to correct Wilson’s lies. Their phone conversations with reporters and e-mails to colleagues are now scrutinized by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and his grand jury as if they’re war criminals. No wonder Plame is the toast of the Washington establishment and appears in publicity shots in Vanity Fair with a big grin. Look what she’s wrought.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

National Guard on the Border?

Allan Wall asks a question I've asked before: Why can't the National Guard be deployed, or rotated through, our nations borders. I know some people with ties to the Border Patrol, and they're not crazy with the idea of people not trained in such work. But as Wall points out, perhaps our National Guard has had a crash course after all: in Iraq.
Some say it's impossible to secure our borders. I don't believe it. Here in Iraq I've seen what a determined national policy can accomplish in a short time. Back home, borders could be secured, if the political will existed. The technical means exist already. We have the resources. We have the personnel. Some have suggested we use the National Guard to secure the borders. . .

Many of the tasks necessary to secure the U.S. border are the same tasks we are already performing here in Iraq. They could be carried out just as easily (and less expensively) on our own borders. Here in Iraq, National Guardsmen are patrolling 24/7, logging thousands of miles in armored humvees. Why can't they do the same on our own borders ?

In Iraq, Guardsmen secure defensive perimeters, they man guard towers, they operate UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). They do surveillance in the dark with night-vision equipment. Why can't they do the same on the borders of their own country?

Currently, Guard units are being called up on 18-month deployments to Iraq and other places. Why can't they be deployed the same length of time to guard the border? When a Guard unit is not deployed, guardsmen train a total of about 40 days a year, one weekend a month and a two-week "annual training" period. Why not rotate National Guard units in and out of border duty for their yearly "training" period?

. . . Under current federal law, the U.S. military can't physically detain illegal aliens, and leaves it to the border patrol to do it. But the military can still do patrolling, reconnaissance, and surveillance on the border. We're doing it in Iraq right now. To support these operations, permanent bases could be constructed along the border, to house troops and store equipment. Putting the Guard on the borders would send a message that we are finally serious about controlling our own borders.
It also doesn't preclude introducing Border Patrol training as part of the rotation. I suspect part of the fears expressed by those in the Border Patrol over such ideas has to do with protecting their institutional turf. They are all for increasing the number of Border Patrol agents. I am too, but there is probably a role to be had for some more muscle, don't you think?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Adult Stem Cells Get Results

Michael Fumento:
I have frequently written on the gulf between the promise of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and the reality of therapy from adult stem cells (ASCs) -- those already in our bodies and umbilical cord blood. ESCs get publicity; ASCs get results.
He provides details and explains why we don't hear the MSM trumpeting such remarkable progress.
It's still true that, as I wrote two years ago, "When an ESC hiccups it makes page one, but reports of ASCs actually saving human lives are often ignored." A search of the Lexis-Nexis database reveals that the incredible liver breakthrough was picked up by two lesser British newspapers and UPI. also mentioned it. That's it. No U.S. newspaper seems to have mentioned it.

Lexis-Nexis also indicates no English-language publication thought that such an incredible breakthrough as allowing a paraplegic to walk again was newsworthy -- at least not if it involved the politically incorrect kind of stem cell.

Therapeutic progress with adult stem cells will continue to come fast and furious. Just when the public will be allowed to hear about it is another thing entirely.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Conservative Against Miers: The Process is as Important as the Result

George Will writes about the Miers mess and explains that, for conservatives, it's about more than just HOW she votes:
Thoughtful conservatives' highest aim is not to achieve this or that particular outcome concerning this or that controversy. Rather, their aim for the Supreme Court is to replace semi-legislative reasoning with genuine constitutional reasoning about the Constitution's meaning as derived from close consideration of its text and structure. Such conservatives understand that how you get to a result is as important as the result. Indeed, in an important sense, the path that the Supreme Court takes to the result often is the result.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Miers Mess

The Wall Street Journal (sign-up required) editorializes on the Miers imbroglio and Byron York offers some insight into the problems the White House is having "selling" Miers. Charles Krauthammer is the latest to call for a do-over. From the Journal's piece:
Senate Republicans now find themselves caught between their loyalty to the President and their entirely legitimate concerns about Ms. Miers's philosophy and qualifications. For their part, Democrats have so far largely been content to watch their opposition squirm and shout. But they will certainly play the opportunists, jumping on any opening on ethics or ideology to defeat her and embarrass the President.

The liberal base may even demand it, given that one of the White House's private selling points to religious conservatives has been that she is both an evangelical and is personally opposed to abortion rights. (Hint: She'd vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.) These assurances, if that's what they were, may turn out to have been doubly counterproductive, given that they also undercut Republican claims to believe in process- rather than results-oriented jurisprudence.

Perhaps Ms. Miers will prove to be such a sterling Senate witness that she can still win confirmation. But so far the lesson we draw from this nomination is this: Bad things happen when a President decides that "diversity," personal loyalty and stealth are more important credentials for the Supreme Court than knowledge of the Constitution and battle-hardened experience fighting the judicial wars of the past 30 years.
Conservatives simply expected better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stossel on "Myths About Gun Control"

Look, I'm not a member of the NRA or a hunter or anything, but the gun control debate has always seemed to me to be based upon a facile premise: restricting the ability to legally (and conveniently) purchase of guns will reduce crime. Like I said, I'm not a gun enthusiast, so I've never really had a problem with waiting periods or background checks. But for those who thought such laws as the Brady Bill would be the "silver bullet" that would help to reduce gun related violence, John Stossel offers some evidence that such is not the case.
The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.

I wanted to know why the laws weren't working, so I asked the experts. "I'm not going in the store to buy no gun," said one maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. "So, I could care less if they had a background check or not."

"There's guns everywhere," said another inmate. "If you got money, you can get a gun."

Talking to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals don't obey the law. (That's why we call them "criminals.") Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there's money to be made selling something, someone will sell it.

A study funded by the Department of Justice confirmed what the prisoners said. Criminals buy their guns illegally and easily. The study found that what felons fear most is not the police or the prison system, but their fellow citizens, who might be armed. One inmate told me, "When you gonna rob somebody you don't know, it makes it harder because you don't know what to expect out of them."
What's that saying? "It's not guns that kill people, it's people that kill people." Counting on laws to prevent those who already break them from breaking more is naive.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have

Patricia E. Bauer alludes to the outrage engendered by Bill Bennett's recent comments, but notes that there is another abortion debate that noone wants to have.
If it's unacceptable for William Bennett to link abortion even conversationally with a whole class of people (and, of course, it is), why then do we as a society view abortion as justified and unremarkable in the case of another class of people: children with disabilities?
She relates her experience bringing up her daughter Margaret, who has Downs Syndrome. According to Bauer, and despite what we hear from "pro-choice" people, raising Margaret has not been a burden at all. The only burden has been caused by the attitudes of those they encounter in day to day life.
Whenever I am out with Margaret, I'm conscious that she represents a group whose ranks are shrinking because of the wide availability of prenatal testing and abortion. I don't know how many pregnancies are terminated because of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome, but some studies estimate 80 to 90 percent.

Imagine. As Margaret bounces through life, especially out here in the land of the perfect body, I see the way people look at her: curious, surprised, sometimes wary, occasionally disapproving or alarmed. I know that most women of childbearing age that we may encounter have judged her and her cohort, and have found their lives to be not worth living.

To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best, a tragic mistake. At worst, a living embodiment of the pro-life movement. Less than human. A drain on society. That someone I love is regarded this way is unspeakably painful to me.

This view is probably particularly pronounced here in blue-state California, but I keep finding it everywhere, from academia on down. At a dinner party not long ago, I was seated next to the director of an Ivy League ethics program. In answer to another guest's question, he said he believes that prospective parents have a moral obligation to undergo prenatal testing and to terminate their pregnancy to avoid bringing forth a child with a disability, because it was immoral to subject a child to the kind of suffering he or she would have to endure. (When I started to pipe up about our family's experience, he smiled politely and turned to the lady on his left.)

Margaret does not view her life as unremitting human suffering (although she is angry that I haven't bought her an iPod). She's consumed with more important things, like the performance of the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs and the dance she's going to this weekend. Oh sure, she wishes she could learn faster and had better math skills. So do I. But it doesn't ruin our day, much less our lives. It's the negative social attitudes that cause us to suffer.

Many young women, upon meeting us, have asked whether I had "the test." I interpret the question as a get-home-free card. If I say no, they figure, that means I'm a victim of circumstance, and therefore not implicitly repudiating the decision they may make to abort if they think there are disabilities involved. If yes, then it means I'm a right-wing antiabortion nut whose choices aren't relevant to their lives.

Either way, they win.
Again, it's just another way that the "me-first" attitude implicit in the pro-choice mindset is manifested. The potential child is less important than the potential consequences--the life-altering changes in-waiting--experienced by the would-be mother.
What I don't understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I'd like to think that it's time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I'm not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.

And here's one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what's driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman's right to choose whether to have a baby; it's also about a woman's right to choose which baby she wants to have.
Even so, as Bauer argues, the perception, in her experience, is not reality. There is no "perfect" baby--except in the eyes of loving parents.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Diverse Ruminations

More on the Miers nomination: Ramesh Ponurru on why it's caused such debate within conservative ranks and Rush Limbaugh on why the debate isn't a bad thing.

Steven Schwartz on how the Iraqi Constitutional Referendum shows how the U.S. "won again."

Barbara J. King reviews The Singing Neanderthals. What? Didn't you ever wonder why humans started making music?

History Carnival #18 is up.

Norman Levitt describes that a new "coy euphemism" has hit the academic world, "cultural competence." After reading Levitt's description of how it's defined, I fear I shan't aspire to such lofty heights.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Soldier Speaks Up

One of the soldiers at the "staged" press conference yesterday speaks up and has this to say about tomorrow's referendum in Iraq.
Tomorrow morning, the Iraqi people will vote on their constitution. The success of our mission or the mission of the Iraqi security forces is not defined by the outcome of that vote. If the people of Iraq vote this constitution down, that only means that the FREE, DEMOCRATIC PROCESS is at work in Iraq. They are learning to voice their opinions in the polling stations, not through violence. If it is voted down, they will have the chance to draft an even better version; One that may better serve the people of Iraq. This is up to them. It is history in the making and I will not let the media or anyone else (who has not spent more than two weeks here) tell me otherwise. I have been here for almost a year. I have seen the progress made in so many ways from January's elections to this referendum. Don't tell me what the Iraqi people can or can't do. They will tell you with their VOTES![emphasis in original]

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bloggers 'Probably Not' Considered Journalists

Richard Lugar, co-sponsor of a proposed shield law for journalists, has said that Bloggers would 'probably not' be considered journalists according to Publishers Weekly.
Lugar emphasized, however, that debate is not yet closed on how to define a journalist under the proposed law.

'As to who is a reporter, this will be a subject of debate as this bill goes farther along,' he said in response to a question from Washington Post Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman. 'Are bloggers journalists or some of the commercial businesses that you here would probably not consider real journalists? Probably not, but how do you determine who will be included in this bill?'"
Hm. Am I a journalist? I never really considered it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Kern: Intelligent Design Is Going to Win

Douglas Kern offers five reasons why he thinks that so-called Intelligent Design "theory" is going to prevail over Darwinism in the 21st Century.

1) ID will win because it's a religion-friendly, conservative-friendly, red-state kind of theory, and no one will lose money betting on the success of red-state theories in the next fifty to one hundred years.

2) ID will win because the pro-Darwin crowd is acting like a bunch of losers.

3) ID will win because it can be reconciled with any advance that takes place in biology, whereas Darwinism cannot yield even an inch of ground to ID.

4) ID will win because it can piggyback on the growth of information theory, which will attract the best minds in the world over the next fifty years.

5) ID will win because ID assumes that man will find design in life -- and, as the mind of man is hard-wired to detect design, man will likely find what he seeks.
Read the whole piece for Kern's reasoning. It seems to me that Kern is arguing is what ID opponents view as its fundamental flaw--it's too vague or broad and ill-defined to be a real scientific theory--is exactly what makes it (ahem) more "adaptable" than Darwinian theory. We'll see.

UPDATE: Robert McHenry offers a rebuttal:
The ID party pretend that a commitment to the scientific method is just another blind ideology. They pretend to be the victims of a scientific establishment that cannot brook contradiction. This merely shows either that they do not understand science, which lives by informed criticism, or that knowledge is not, in fact, what they are about.

After several readings I honestly could not decide whether the tone of Mr. Kern's article is the triumphalism of a partisan who believes that his side is justly winning or the enthusiasm of the late convert in the service of a new master. Perhaps it was neither of these. I do know that he confuses the product, a theory, with the method, science; that he confuses pattern with design; that he doesn't understand randomness; that he idly invokes a "metaphysics of information"; that he believes, on no evidence, in "memes"; and that he thinks that allowing appeals to the supernatural will have no ill effects on the practice of science and that adulterating their science classes will not cripple the education of our youth.

But let me clear about one thing. I am aware of no evidence that he is a poopy-head.
OOOOO.K. Max Boot also has problems with Kern's analysis and offers a point-by-point rebuttal.

Then there is Kurt Anderesen, who blames relativism.
For several decades the philosophical ground has been softened up by the relativism and political correctness of the secular left, which succeeded in undermining the very idea of objective reality and of calling a spade a spade—so now, in the resulting marsh, fantasies like intelligent design (or Scientology or feng shui or 9/11 as a CIA plot) take root and spread like weeds. Liberals pioneered squishy-minded indulgence of their key constituencies’ unfortunate new ideas, like reparations and criminalized hate speech; now it’s the right’s turn.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

We Interrupt the Miers debate for some Marriage Debate

As I recall, the Netherlands has served as a same-sex marriage panacea. Well, I found this on the Family Scholars Blog:
Last Friday the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union.

“I love both Bianca and Mirjam, so I am marrying them both,” Victor said…“A marriage between three persons is not possible in the Netherlands, but a civil union is. We went to the notary in our marriage costume and exchanged rings. We consider this to be just an ordinary marriage.”

BOOM! Oh, excuse me while I pick myself up. My, that slope was SO slippery!!!

Moderates for Miers

Perhaps President Bushes nomination of Harriet Miers has gained him some fans in one area: moderates. The moderate-to-right editorial staff of the Providence Journal approves of the pick, as does the liberal "Republican" Froma Harrop. Here's a snippet from the Journal's editorial.
President Bush has kicked up another political dust storm in Washington this week with his choice of longtime colleague Harriet Miers, the White House counsel, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Lost in the cloud is exactly what Ms. Miers believes, and what kind of justice she would make.

This time, Mr. Bush's political base seems as upset about the nomination as the administration's left-leaning critics, chiding the president for choosing a "crony," rather than someone with a proven record of conservatism as a sitting judge. Republicans are fearful that Ms. Miers -- a former Democrat, who has managed to charm Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid -- could turn out to be "another David Souter," the justice appointed by the first President Bush who has tended to side with the liberals on the court.

Others maintain that Mr. Bush may be demonstrating, for the umpteenth time, that he is not as dumb as his critics make out. Ms. Miers, they say, has no apparent "paper trail" that would provide opponents with the means to bring her down. Also, whereas Mr. Souter was a stranger to the first President Bush, Ms. Miers is someone with whom the current president has worked closely, and whose political philosophy he knows well. And as a single woman who has thrived in the male-dominated legal profession, she may make a difficult target for feminist interest groups. . .

Any ultimate judgment on Ms. Miers will, of course, have to be formed in the weeks ahead, as her record is scrutinized and the Senate begins to hold hearings on her nomination.

But those who know her well regard her as smart, tough but reasonable, and a team player. She has wide experience in working with others: as a lawyer who rose to the head of a large firm; as president of the Texas Bar Association; as a Dallas City Council member; as head of the Texas Lottery Commission; as a Sunday-school teacher. Although regarded as conservative, she seems inclined to be practical and moderate, rather than ideological, in performing her duties. This suggests that she could be a fitting successor to Justice O'Connor.

As for her lack of bench experience, there is something to be said for drawing Supreme Court justices from a variety of backgrounds. Ms. Miers, 60, knows much about politics, practicing law, running a business, and meeting a payroll. Such a background could help the Supreme Court better reflect on the real-world implications of its rulings.
Harrop writes that she'd like to go out to lunch and a movie with Miers.
Despite the dearth of hard information, movement conservatives have declared her nomination a defeat for them. That Miers is President Bush's White House lawyer offers little comfort. Bush, everyone knows, is damaged goods. He's been weakened by the Katrina mess, the inconclusive Iraq war, spreading government scandals, and budget deficits that no true conservative would tolerate. He can't afford to fight on another front. He needs a relatively peaceful Supreme Court nominating process.

The conservatives' problem with Miers isn't how she thinks, because they have no idea. It's that she's not like them. Miers is not an energizer-conservative beating the drums under the windows of the liberal enemy.

Liberals do seem to be sleeping well over the Miers choice. No less a left-leaner than Sen. Charles Schumer has responded to her nomination with "it could have been a lot worse." That's New York-ese for "what a nice surprise."

All this pains the right-wing warriors as their delusions of permanent power continue to crack. Their batteries badly needed recharging with an in-your-face conservative along the lines of an Antonin Scalia or a Clarence Thomas.

"It really disappointed us," a right-wing friend told me. "We were looking forward to a filibuster by liberals against a qualified black woman candidate."

He was speaking of Janice Rogers Brown, one of the women on the conservatives' short list. His assumption that conservatives could successfully repackage opposition to Brown as racism is rather dated. The trick of finding a minority to represent the right wing's most outrageous views is pretty shopworn. Liberals didn't give Clarence Thomas a free pass because he was black, and that was 14 years ago. (Only the public revulsion at Anita Hill's opportunistic sexual-harassment charges against Thomas caused them to cave.)

I'm no big fan of affirmative action, but I do like the idea of a female justice replacing another pioneer, Sandra Day O'Connor. At age 60, Miers remembers the days when law firms asked women applicants whether they were on birth control. As she rose to power in the Texas legal establishment, Miers became the first woman this and the first woman that. She knows how things were for women with ambition.

She also knows how things were for women without legal access to abortion. Third parties tell us that Miers personally opposes abortion. That could be true or not. But there are lots of people who are against abortion but want it kept legal. O'Connor seems to be one.

Nor should we read anything into Miers's resistance to the American Bar Association's policy supporting abortion rights. As president of the Texas Bar in the early '90s, she thought the ABA should be neutral on the subject, or at least base its position on a vote by the association's members. That was a principled stance, which had the support of some pro-choice members.

So while conservatives describe themselves as "depressed" over the Miers nomination, I declare myself initially impressed. I would love to share these feelings with Harriet over a tuna salad.
Look, I'm a conservative, maybe I'm even a "movement" conservative, but I don't agree with Harrop's friend about looking for a fight with a purposedly controversial nomination. Nonetheless, I still think there were other potential nominees, with track records, who would have been initially better received by conservatives. And if there was a partisan battle, so be it.

To my mind, the main reason there is so much concern among conservatives is because Miers is an unknown: they fear another Souter, as Harrop explains. But, as she also points out, while George H.W. Bush didn't know Souter, Bush knows Miers. He himself has said he "know(s) her heart." Are conservatives willing to trust him, or not? I think that many simply didn't want to be put in the position of having to trust him, they wanted to "know" right off whether the nominee was one they could "count on."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Musings of Pro-Miers Conservatives

Patrick Ruffini says to conservatives:
This is not the time to act like preening Ivory Tower elitists, but to call Harry Reid's bluff. Miers will cast the votes that O'Connor wouldn't. And that's all that matters.
Beldar is thinking along the same line.
My blogospheric friend Prof. Stephen Bainbridge, who's another early critic of the Miers nomination, quoted today the famous and still very funny comment by Sen. Roman Hruska on Nixon nominee Harold Carswell: "Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they?" Well, I'm not arguing in favor of mediocre nominees. What I am arguing is that a nominee is not mediocre, or unfit, or likely to be a disaster on the Court, simply because he or she comes from a career spent mostly in private practice! We in private practice tend to spend less time worrying about the meaning of life and the universe and how that guides and informs the evolution of substantive due process under the Constitution. But that's exactly the kind of — forgive, again, my bluntness — metaphysical crap you get in Supreme Court opinions written by lawyers who've spent most of their careers as academics.
Well, I'm willing to bet they're right, but I just don't think the President needed to go with a stealth candidate on this one.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein offers this take on the "anti-academic" argument.
I do think Republican strategists—who have been sent out to push Miers’ “real world,” anti-"academic" credentials on the political talk shows—are taking the wrong tack: many legal conservatives on the right want a brilliant legal theorist and thinker precisely because we believe that such a nominee would naturally support our view of how the judiciary should function, and of how the Constitution ought be read.

As I noted yesterday, I’m far less interested in someone bringing a unique perspective to the Bench than I am with someone bringing a proper perspective to the role of Judge.

Miers might be that person, I don’t know. But I think the strategy of pushing her as a “judicial outsider” is shortsighted; after all, we just got done hearing about all of John Roberts’ qualities, which proceeded from the very kind of background this current PR campaign seems to be offhandedly criticizing.
Jonah Goldberg is also skeptical of this defense of Miers. On the other hand, Thomas Lifson trusts the President's Harvard Business School honed political acumen and also thinks conservative "doom and gloomers" should calm down (or be ignored).

Monday, October 03, 2005

New SCOTUS Nominee may indicate a larger problem

David Frum isn't too keen on Harriet Miers, but more troubling is his general observation of what is hindering George W. Bush's "vision thing."
Again and again, George Bush has announced bold visionary policies - and again and again he has entrusted the execution of those policies to people who do not believe in them or even understand them. This is most conspicuously true in foreign policy, but it has been true in domestic policy as well. The result: the voice is the voice of Reagan, but too often the hands are the hands of George HW Bush.

Or worse. George HW Bush made his bad appointments in the name of replacing Reaganite "ideology" with moderate Republican "competence." He didn't live up to his own billing, but you can understand his intentions. But the younger Bush has based his personnel decisions upon a network of personal connections in which competence plays no very large part.
I don't know enough about Miers to begin to presume to make a judgement, though many others are (and it doesn't look good). However, what Frum has observed certainly does ring true. The President's high-flying rhetoric and ideals will remain grounded unless he begins to appoint right people to implement and foster them.