-She's a crony. This isn't really a theory so much as an observation. She meets the dictionary definition of a crony: a longtime personal friend. She was Bush's personal attorney and in the White House she was his trusted gatekeeper. Bush prizes loyalty above most other considerations and has a long history of picking loyalists above more credentialed outsiders. Bush knows her "heart" and trusts that she reflects his views.
-She's a woman. Again, this is no theory either. But Mrs. Bush has stated that she thinks there should be another woman on the court, and many moderate Republicans and Democrats - including Senate Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter - have indicated that they'd be inclined to vote for a woman.
-She's an evangelical Christian who's been a member of the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas for 25 years. Marvin Olasky and James Dobson, two leaders of the conservative evangelical community, came out early to endorse her. Not only does this suggest that they believe she's a cultural conservative with settled views similar to the president's about church-state issues and abortion, but it offers an opportunity to have this important political constituency represented on the court. Identity politics isn't just for Latinos, blacks and women anymore.
A bonus is that Democrats tend to get stuck on stupid when it comes to dealing with Christian conservatives. Nothing would please Karl Rove more than to watch Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden maneuver themselves into a position where they sound like they're saying "committed Christians need not apply."
None of these is a bad reason for tapping Miers. But President Bush has put himself in the awkward position of asking his base to trust him at precisely the moment the base was expecting Bush to demonstrate their trust was well-founded in the first place. For this reason and others, the Miers nomination has opened up several criss-crossing fissures on the right: East Coast credentialists vs. outside-the-beltway populists, Bush loyalists vs. conservative movement activists.
The press will spend a lot of time wondering what the Democrats will do. But for now the more interesting question is, what will the Republicans do?
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