The Miers nomination: A "political blunder of the first order"?

The nominee's not-so-excellent adventure just keeps getting more embarrassing.

Published October 21, 2005 2:00PM (EDT)

How much worse can it get for Harriet Miers?

The Supreme Court nominee praised as "meticulous" and "detail-oriented" had to admit on her Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire that she had been suspended from the District of Columbia bar because she'd forgotten to pay her dues. And then, in a follow-up letter, she had to admit that she'd forgotten to mention in her Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire that she'd also been suspended from the Texas bar after having forgotten to pay dues there. Embarrassing.

What was her qualification for the Supreme Court again?

In an editorial today, the Wall Street Journal declares that George W. Bush's second Supreme Court nomination has proved to be a "political blunder of the first order." The Journal stops short of calling on Bush to withdraw Miers' nomination -- maybe she will "prove to be such a sterling Senate witness that she can still win confirmation" -- but it says that Miers is already suffering from the perception, "fairly or not," that she is "simply not able to discuss the Constitutional controversies that have animated American political debate for two generations."

The Journal says that Bush has squandered a chance to engage the country in a serious debate about its future. "Instead of a fight over judicial philosophy, we're having a fight over one woman's credentials and background. Instead of debating the Kelo decision's evisceration of private property rights, we are destined to learn everything we never wanted to know about the Texas Lottery Commission."

At that point, the Journal drops in a reference to John Fund's latest column -- the one in which he explains the bizarre way in which Jerome "Swift Boat" Corsi and Ben "Bush got special TANG treatment" Barnes could play a role in Miers' confirmation process.

Did we mention that there are some problems here?

And we haven't even gotten to the question of the strangely huge payments Miers' law firm received from Bush's gubernatorial campaigns.

At the Washington Post, Charles Babington wonders how a White House that hit a "home run" with John Roberts seems to have struck out with Harriet Miers. At the National Review Online, Byron York says conference calls among Miers' would-be supporters have slowly devolved into near silence; some wonder if Miers should stop paying visits to senators so that she doesn't do any more damage along the way. Rich Lowry says it's time for some Republican senators to pay a visit to the president and tell him to withdraw the nomination. "In the John Roberts nomination, a modified stealth strategy reached its height, giving the Court what is likely to be a conservative chief justice for the next 30 years," Lowry writes. "In the Harriet Miers nomination, the stealth strategy has all but collapsed, producing what might be the most catastrophic political miscalculation of the Bush presidency."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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