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Miers bows out
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service


October 28, 2005

The withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination was as stealthy as the process that led President Bush to propose her for the Supreme Court in the first place: A terse unannounced letter saying that she had asked to withdraw and the president had reluctantly agreed.

Basically, the White House bowed to the inevitable and made the best of a bad job. She was not a good appointment, and the White House's fumbling attempts to sell it to the Senate and social conservatives only made it worse. This past week it became clear that she was not going to be confirmed, following a series of disastrous one-on-one meetings with individual senators.

Withdrawal was the expedient course and politically the only course, and the White House refusal to hand over internal documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee was the excuse, not the reason. None of the participants, including Miers herself, wanted to be pushed into a divisive battle that could only end badly.

Her overriding qualification was her loyalty to Bush, as first his personal attorney and most recently his White House counsel. Bush reciprocated that loyalty by saying she would remain as White House counsel, and her more vociferous detractors should hope that she is not a vengeful woman.

The controversy over Miers' nomination was curious in that it never advanced far enough to become a partisan fight. The Democrats milled around on the sidelines while the various wings of the Republican Party battled over the Texas attorney's scant qualifications and whether she would be a reliably conservative vote on the court.

In the end, the so-called movement conservatives - in truth, the GOP's intellectual elite - forced Miers and the president to back down. There is no disguising that it was a stinging defeat for Bush coming when his presidency is beset and struggling. These same conservatives may feel that they can now dictate to the president, who loathes being dictated to, his next choice of a Supreme Court nominee.

They should be wary of a pyrrhic victory. The younger Bush does not forgive nor forget and the hard feelings over the Miers rebuff will not quickly go away.


Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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