Of all things I thought he had learned in spades, it was that his father's overtures to the Left not only were unappreciated and rebuffed -- they also deeply wounded his presidency and opened the door to eight years of Clinton.
Which brings me to the clincher. Part of me says, "Calm down, the issue -- as I said above -- isn't whether we conservatives know Miers is going to be a stellar, originalist jurist, but whether, in fact, she will be. It's the integrity of the Constitution that's paramount, not whether conservatives are mollified. So if Mr. Bush knows she is going to be excellent, that's all that matters in the end."
On the other hand, I believe he had the power to accomplish both things: to appoint someone he knew to be a highly qualified originalist, and someone his conservative base knew to be as well -- but he didn't do it -- again.
While the Constitution and the Court are monumentally important, they aren't the only institutions in play here. The future of the presidency and conservatism itself are currently in the crosshairs as well. We are well into President Bush's second term, and sometimes he seems to be letting the liberal tail wag the dog.
By acting apologetic about conservatism in this and other recent actions, e.g., post-Katrina, he's sending the wrong signal at the wrong time. If the Republican Party's standard-bearer acts tentative about conservative solutions and fighting for them, how can we expect the base to be fired up, especially as we go into 2008 without a natural successor to replace him -- given that Vice President Cheney won't be running?
I truly wish President Bush had seized this opportune moment to reenergize his base and his presidency by appointing a person on his list whose Scalian credentials are common knowledge.
But I would also be remiss if I didn't close with a confession. As I'm submitting this column, I'm hearing very good things about Ms. Miers from people who know her and whom I trust, like she's a strong, pro-life evangelical Christian, a conservative's conservative, an originalist and a very capable lawyer. If so, I will enthusiastically support her -- and the Left will go to war against her. We should welcome that fight.