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The Harriet Miers nomination: Ideology over process

By Frank Salvato
web posted October 31, 2005

It would seem that the squeaky wheel has once again gotten the grease. Dissension from the far right has caused Harriet Miers to reconsider her nomination to the United States Supreme Court. They see it as a victory and when viewed as one, very specific issue it is. But it is just like the Republican Party -- and conservatives in general -- to mistakenly celebrate the victory of a single battle in the face of a larger war.

Was Harriet Miers the best person to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court? Maybe not. Ideologically she was an unknown entity and there were quite a few people with established credentials the president could have chosen. While this makes her a controversial choice it does not make her an unqualified choice. We the People would have discovered whether she was qualified or not during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Sadly, because of the ideological roar from the far right, now only the president will ever know.

The process of selecting a US Supreme Court Justice is clearly laid out in the Constitution. The President of the United States has the Constitutional duty to nominate people whom he deems fit to serve. The Senate is then charged -- required -- to give its advice and consent to the nominee. Contrary to what the ideologues and the mainstream media have led the American public to believe, the Senate has the final word on whether someone is confirmed to serve on the nation's highest court. The President and the Senate -- and the president's political party for that matter -- do not have to be cohesive on the issue, although it is preferred. In this instance, the far right has intervened in this process employing ideology over process.

When one looks at the affect the far right's intervention had on the process of government the actuality is that they gave conservatives in the Senate a desperately needed pass. They saved them from a "moment of truth," got them out of the hot seat. By forcing Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination they removed the need for conservatives in the Senate to vote on the matter, thus eliminating the need for them to take a stand on the issue.

If the far right would have had vision they would have figured out that by forcing conservatives within the Senate to vote on Harriet Miers' nomination they would have been vetting out those who embrace the status quo, those who blindly follow, those who year after year make deals to not only pack the budget with pork but "wash the backs" of those who stand for everything contrary to what the far right believes.

But with Harriet Miers withdrawal, once again, the mealy-mouthed, the cavorting and the "business as usual" politicians -- politicians who build bridges to nowhere -- within the conservative ranks of the US Senate have dodged a bullet.

Janice Rogers Brown

As the far right celebrates their "victory" over the "unqualified nomination" of Harriet Miers it would be a person of vision that takes an assessment of the damage that has been done. True, President Bush now has the opportunity to close ranks on this issue by nominating a Janice Rogers Brown, a person I favored in the very beginning. But the sad truth is that the divide created by those on the ideological right will never be healed. They have learned from the loud and narcissistic on the far left that if they scream loud enough, attain enough media coverage, and create the illusion that they are the majority they can circumvent the Constitutional process.

Many will criticize my thoughts and try to paint me as a centrist or a RINO. Their knee-jerk reaction to my comments only serves to prove the limit of their political vision. If anything my defense of the process stands in defense of the Constitution and the processes laid out by its Framers. Those who would criticize this process, well…

In the end, it would have been much wiser to allow Harriet Miers to have gone before the Senate Judiciary Committee and then the Senate as a whole. It would have provided a much needed spotlight on those who call themselves conservatives in the US Senate while serving as a reminder of the president's strengths, especially to his well practiced detractors. Consider the ambitious magnitude of the president's second term agenda (tax reform, social security reform, etc.) to truly understand why he has to maintain authority, especially to those who would wish him defeat.

With their "victory" over the Harriet Miers' nomination the far right effectively created vulnerability where there once was none. Think about that when tax reform fails to accomplish anything for the American people and Social Security Reform lies on the ash heap of a lame duck presidency.

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for TheRant.us. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, socio-political education project. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato

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