Thomas Sowell
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Conservatives who have for years contributed time, money, and sweat to help elect Republicans have often been justifiably outraged at the way the Republicans have then let them down, wimped out, or even openly betrayed the promises on which they were elected.

 Much of that frustration and anger is now being directed at President Bush for his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Why not someone like Judge Janice Rogers Brown or any of a number of other identifiable judges with a proven history of upholding conservative judicial principles under fire?

 Looming in the background is the specter of people like Justice Anthony Kennedy, who went on the High Court with a "conservative" label and then succumbed to the Washington liberal culture. But while the past is undeniable, it is also not predestination.

 This administration needs to be held responsible for its own shortcomings but not those of previous Republican administrations.

 Rush Limbaugh has aptly called this a nomination made from a position of weakness. But there are different kinds of weakness and sometimes the difference matters.

 President Bush has taken on too many tough fights -- Social Security being a classic example -- to be regarded as a man who is personally weak. What is weak is the Republican majority in the Senate.

 When it comes to taking on a tough fight with the Senate Democrats over judicial nominations, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn't really have a majority to lead. Before the President nominated anybody, before he even took the oath of office for his second term, Senator Arlen Specter was already warning him not to nominate anyone who would rile up the Senate. Later, Senator John Warner issued a similar warning. It sounded like a familiar Republican strategy of pre-emptive surrender.

 Before we can judge how the President played his hand, we have to consider what kind of hand he had to play. It was a weak hand -- and the weakness was in the Republican Senators.

 Does this mean that Harriet Miers will not be a good Supreme Court justice if she is confirmed? It is hard to imagine her being worse than Sandra Day O'Connor -- or even as bad.

 The very fact that Harriet Miers is a member of an evangelical church suggests that she is not dying to be accepted by the beautiful people, and is unlikely to sell out the Constitution of the United States in order to be the toast of Georgetown cocktail parties or praised in the New York Times. Considering some of the turkeys that Republicans have put on the Supreme Court in the past, she could be a big improvement.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate