Mier-ed in Cronyism

The chance to nominate a Supreme Court Justice is an unparalleled opportunity for a president to show the nation who he is and what he stands for. When given such an opportunity to replace the bright and able Stanford graduate Sandra Day O’Connor, this nation’s first female justice, President George W. Bush showed the world that he values loyalists and sycophants above qualified and experienced candidates. This was also confirmed by President Bush’s choice of the incompetent Michael Brown to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). After the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina by FEMA, a controversy quickly erupted over the qualifications of the agency’s director, Michael Brown. The media discovered that Mr. Brown had no real experience in crisis management, and had spent the years immediately before his appointment as FEMA director by judging horse shows in Aspen, Colorado. When Mr. Brown’s predecessor stepped down, Bush didn’t go searching for the most talented man to lead the agency that is the first line of responders after a terrorist attack. If a biological weapon were to go off in downtown Boston, FEMA would be responsible for responding to the crisis. Besides, George W. Bush placed his entire hopes of reelection on the claim that he could protect the country from attacks better than his opponent could. The president let the retiring FEMA director pick his college roommate, the now infamous unqualified and incompetent Michael Brown, as his successor. To be perfectly fair, every president appoints his poker buddies to ambassadorships of obscure countries around the world, but stacking the Department of Homeland Security with such untalented and inadequate men is disgusting. The disastrous response of FEMA to Hurricane Katrina prompted accusations of cronyism against the government and the Bush Administration. If the president was affected by those charges, he had a unique way of trying to prove these charges as false. Two weeks ago, George Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the highest court of the land. She is one of the most unqualified candidates to ever be nominated to the bench. The issue of Harriet Miers’ nomination is one of a few Capitol Hill issues in the past few years to not trigger a partisan response. This is not a case of Democrats attacking the nominee’s qualifications for a lack of any better tactics to derail her nomination. In fact, Democrats were unusually mum about the nominee last week, allowing the conservatives to bicker about George Bush’s selection. George Will, a prominent conservative columnist, noted recently that Miers wouldn’t stand out among a list of thousands of lawyers. Senator Sam Brownback, the leading Pro-Life advocate in the Senate, told a colleague, “The hearings will eat her up.” Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee responsible for interrogating judicial nominees, said that Ms. Miers will need “a crash course in Constitutional law” before the hearings. What does it say about the caliber of the president’s nominee if she has to be given a crash course in Constitutional law before serving on the body that interprets the Constitution? The history of the Supreme Court is rife with justices who had no previous judging experience upon their nomination, but all of them have been infinitely more intelligent than Harriet Miers. Ms. Miers did not get to where she is because of her innate talent and intellectual capacity. Rather, she has been given a nomination for a lifetime position on the Court because of her loyalty and ability to suck up to President Bush. In what is now a famous remark, she told former Bush speechwriter David Frum “that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.” As Newsweek remarked, “What does that say about her judging experience?” Because judges write so many opinions and legal briefings, Miers’ abilities as a writer are important to determining her qualifications for the job. In this area, she falls embarrassingly short of competence. Since Ms. Miers has no judicial writings or legal briefs to review, the public has begun delving into her personal writings. Her writing samples, far from scholarly, would merit nothing better than a 3 in any section of English 100. One illustrative and comical example comes from a letter written to then Governor Bush and First Lady of Texas Laura Bush, asking them to speak at a ceremony honoring her. The letter reads: ““I am respectful of both of your great many time commitments and I realize you receive many, many requests,” she wrote. “Of course, I would be very pleased if either of you is able to participate. However, I will be pleased with your judgment about whether participating in this event fits your schedule whatever your decision. . . . I feel honored even to be able to extend this invitation to such extraordinary people.” Her prose is hardly the outstanding writing that one would expect from a nominee for the Supreme Court. George W. Bush should immediately withdraw Harriet Miers as a nominee to the Supreme Court to save face. The president has made it clear time and time again that experience and intelligence count for nothing in his White House. Instead of applying the “best and the brightest” standard that John F. Kennedy used in 1961, Bush has surrounded himself with political hacks and cronies who have proved incompetent at nearly everything except praising and flattering the hand that fed them.