I hate it when I am sympathetic to arguments on both sides of an issue as it threatens my image as a benevolently close-minded, dogmatic, doctrinaire ideologue. But I do think conservatives are talking past one another on the Miers nomination and that a rift is growing between some conservatives and the White House. So here are a few more observations concerning the ongoing Miers saga.
Conservative critics of the nomination might need to be clearer about the applicability of their objections. There is a difference between criticizing the president's pick and actually advocating Senate rejection of Miers' nomination.
It is perfectly legitimate (and healthy) for conservatives to register their disapproval of the president's selection. They (we) can bellow against it to their heart's content. But they best not advocate that the Senate reject Miers just because they believe she may not be the most qualified for the position. If she is qualified and of good character, the Senate must, as a matter of constitutional law, defer to the president's prerogative and confirm.
Accordingly, conservatives, unless they truly believe Miers to be unqualified, should specify that their objections are directed at the president and not the Senate, lest they run the risk of lending legitimacy to the liberal practice of rejecting nominees for extra-constitutional (including political) reasons.
Nor do senators of a president's party have an exemption from their duty under the Advice and Consent clause to affirm an honorable, qualified nominee. If they ignore this and vote not to confirm a qualified nominee, they will be as guilty as Democrat senators of usurping the president's appointment power.
As to the brouhaha over religion, I believe President Bush has come under unfair criticism over his remark -- in response to a media question -- that Miers' religious background is a factor in her favor. He has a right to use any criteria he wants in making his selection. He happens to be an evangelical Christian, and there is nothing wrong with him considering Miers' Christianity a plus.
Some have suggested he is applying a religious litmus test. Nonsense. At no time did he suggest that Christianity is a prerequisite to a nominee's fitness, just that it was one positive factor in his decision.
Others -- including some conservatives and some liberals, for different reasons -- say that a nominee's faith should not inform his or her jurisprudence. Many secular liberals, for their part, have this pathetically misguided notion that government officials even in the political branches of government should not permit their Christian worldview to inform their policy decisions.
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