Hugh Hewitt’s op-ed in the NY Times is available. With characteristic clarity, Hewitt outlines his thoughts on the ramifications of the Miers meltdown.
The core of Hewitt’s argument is that Miers should have received an up or down vote in the Senate, because “Voting for or against Ms. Miers would have forced Senate Democrats to articulate a coherent standard for future nominees. Now, the Democrats have free rein.”
The other money quote: “The Miers precedent cements an extraconstitutional new standard for nominees. Had the framers intended only judges for the court, they would have said so. No doubt some Miers critics will protest a willingness to support nominees who have never sat on the bench, but no president is going to send one forward after this debacle.”
While cries to move on and look ahead are certainly popular right now, it seems a certain amount of self-reflection is appropriate and healthy, especially now that we’re starting to be removed from the situation.
My question for the anti-Miers contingent who called for withdrawal is simple. If Miers is as bad a candidate as some pundits would have us think, then the only group that stands to lose by having her go through the confirmation process is the Bush White House, and they lost anyway. Would it have been that bad if the process had run its course and she had been overwhelmingly defeated? The replacement judge would have been delayed a few weeks, which is crucial given the upcoming abortion rights case before the court, but having a replacement in time for that is now in jeopardy anyway.
The anti-anti-Miers crowd took a ‘wait-and-see’ stance, which given the lack of substantial evidence either way, seems wholly appropriate and rational. What we needed was more substantial evidence that Miers was an awful candidate, the sort of evidence that hours of confirmation hearings would hopefully provide. If she goes to the hearings, then everyone has the possibility of being persuaded one way or the other by solid arguments, not hearsay and conjecture. If Miers submitted an awful performance (i.e. didn’t persuade us that she is an originalist), then the anti-anti-Miers people *might* plead for someone else, everyone would vote her down, and we would be in the position we are now, except that everyone would agree that she wasn’t the right choice.
My question for Hugh: if Miers had made it to the confirmation hearings and if there was inconclusive evidence that she is a solid conservative, would it merit voting her down, political consequences for Bush (and ’08) be damned?*
Disclaimer: As poli-blogging is a new world to me, forgive me if I’m asking the wrong questions. It seems that if I’m going to get involved politically, that this SCOTUS nomination is the appropriate time to do it. What little blogging muscle I can flex, I will to help the cause of healing the split and confirming the next justice.
Update: Thanks for the link, Hugh, and more importantly, thanks for answering the question. Would a defeat on the Senate floor be as damaging as a withdrawal and a split party? It depends on the nature of the defeat, but if she’s bad enough to call for a withdrawal, then she probably would have been soundly voted down.
Also, welcome Hewitt readers. Do me a favor and visit friends Rezitech (for all your home and small business technology needs) and Ink Invitations (for world-class paper invitations–see her portfolio here).