The withdrawal of Harriet Miers from consideration for Supreme Court Justice is the best possible outcome to a messy, family quarrel. The damage to the President will be minimal within the party although how it will play in the hinterlands is an entirely different matter. The important thing is that a source of friction in Republican ranks will have been eliminated at a most opportune moment.
I have little doubt that the White House sees the writing on the wall with regards to the Special Prosecutors impending indictments of high level administration officials in the Plame Affair. They perhaps even have advanced knowledge of who might be on Fitzgerald’s chopping block. All signs point to at the very least an indictment on perjury for Scooter Libby along with probable obstruction of justice charges. But the President’s real worry is the possible exposure of his top aide Karl Rove to charges of perjury.
In this context, the withdrawal of Miers can be seen as strengthening the President’s hand as now there will be no excuse for Republicans not to stand shoulder to shoulder with the President through what is going to be the roughest part of his Presidency. The storm about to break in Washington among the media and the left will be loud and long. The indictments will dominate the news for weeks. A united party will help offset the drumbeat of criticism that is sure to follow any actions by the Special Prosecutor.
If Rove especially has to walk the plank, Republicans must close ranks around the President to avoid a disaster – near term, anyway. Any hint of Republican disunity could doom the President’s legislative agenda for the remainder of his term. As I wrote here, any fracturing of the Republican party at this point would make Bush a lame duck long before his time. And the question of how this will play in the 2006 midterms is anyone’s guess but I suspect that much will be forgotten by next November and any pickups by the Democrats will be as a result of depressed Republican turnout.
That depressed turnout will be traced to the President’s continuing refusal to address spending and immigration issues – both near and dear to the hearts of his base supporters. And as I suspect that the President many now nominate a Supreme Court Justice even more unacceptable to those who opposed Miers (Justice Gonzalez?), Bush may be faced with more internal problems in the future. But for the moment, Republicans can be one big happy family again – something that will be of comfort to the President after the Special Prosecutor drops the other shoe.
Miers was not just a poor choice, she was the wrong choice. The President has a chance to do things better the next time around, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the nomination of a constitutionalist to the Court. With the Administration on the run because of the coming indictments, Democrats will smell blood in the water and attempt to draw out the nomination battle of such a nominee until after the 2006 elections where they hope to get a majority in the Senate. This would insure a more moderate Justice coming before the Senate for approval.
The opponents of Miers believe they have won. Perhaps they can inform me of exactly what it is they find in victory that makes them happy? The President, temporarily humiliated, the Democrats strengthened, and the probable nomination of someone even more objectionable to them would not seem to be parameters of winning – at least not in my neck of the woods. So beyond ideological satisfaction, what have you really accomplished?
You may have guaranteed a more liberal court than we have now or would have had with Miers. Congratulations, guys. What do you do for an encore?
Michelle Malkin exclaims “Relief!” and links to dozens of others who weigh on on the bad news.
The Captain also seems relieved and writes “Now can we nominate a candidate whose qualities and track record presumes we control the Senate?
Good luck on that one, Ed.