WASHINGTON -- It's no secret that I think the Harriet Miers nomination was a mistake. Nonetheless, when asked how she will do in the hearings, my answer is, I hope she does well. I have no desire to see her humiliated. Nor would I take any joy in seeing her rejected, though I continue to believe it would be best for the country that she not be confirmed for the Supreme Court.
And while I remain as exercised as anyone by the lack of wisdom of this choice, I part company from those who see the Miers nomination as a betrayal of conservative principles. The idea that Bush is looking to appoint some kind of closet liberal David Souter or even some rudderless Sandra Day O'Connor clone is wildly off the mark. The president's mistake was thinking he could sneak a reliable conservative past the liberal litmus tests (on abortion, above all) by nominating a candidate at once exceptionally obscure and yet exceptionally well known to him.
The problem is that this strategy blew up in his face. Her obscurity is the result of her lack of constitutional history, which, in turn, robs her of the minimum qualifications for service on the Supreme Court. And while, post-Bork, stealth seems to be the most precious asset a conservative Supreme Court nominee can have, how stealthy is a candidate who has come out publicly for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion?
So, imagine the hearings. At first she will have to pass an implicit competency test. As case upon case is thrown at her on national television, she dare not respond, as she apparently did to Sen. Chuck Schumer while making the rounds, that she will have to ``bone up on this a little more.'' Then there will be the withering fire of conservatives such as Sen. Sam Brownback who will try to establish some grounds to believe that (a) she has a judicial philosophy, and (b) it is conservative.
And then there will be the Democrats who, in their first act of political wisdom in this millennium, have held their fire on Miers, under the old political axiom that when your opponent is committing suicide, you get out of the way. But now that Miers is so exposed on abortion, the Democrats will be poised like a reserve cavalry to come over the hills to attack her from the left -- assuming she has survived the attack from the right.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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