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Nominee fulfilled true goal

Oct. 28, 2005

by JOSH HORTON, editor in chief

As it turns out, Harriet Miers was a huge success. Just not in the way you might think.

Supreme Court hopeful Miers withdrew her nomination early Thursday amid criticism from conservatives and liberals alike, actually drawing more fire from the right than the left.

While her qualification for the nation's high court was questionable before, it's hard to see now how she was ever anything more than President Bush's political punching bag.

After all, it's not like he did much more to defend her nomination than to offer a sort of half-hearted "trust me, I know her" line.

We knew the Roberts nomination was going to be the easy one, because it was a conservative replacing a conservative. But retiring justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the court's swing vote on a lot of crucial issues. The more delicate situation required a more well-thought-out plan.

The Miers nomination, with all its bickering and nail-biting, did several things for the Bush administration:

1) It drew some attention away from the other things going terribly wrong, such as the war in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, the involvement of two top White House officials in the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal and a less-than-stellar disaster relief effort in the Gulf Coast.

2) Miers appeased some of the people Bush needed to appease with the nomination. With O'Connor retiring, many expected Bush to nominate a woman to fill her spot. So with the Miers nomination, Bush sent the message to all those interested that he's in favor of putting another woman on the Supreme Court.

But it's been said that Bush would really rather be the first to put a Hispanic on the high court, and that might mean current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

3) Any nominee Bush trots out this time will look like a sparkling gift from heaven in comparison to the highly contested Miers. Whether it's Gonzales or someone else, the concensus was that Miers might have been a talented lawyer, but wasn't the kind of brilliant legal mind required of Supreme Court justices.

Does that give the Bush administration too much credit? It's possible. But in this scenario, the president looks either really dense or really sly, and I'd prefer to think it's the latter.

Editor in chief Josh Horton is a senior journalism major from Lorena.