Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Outright enthusiasm for Miers

The astute Thomas Lifson has, at his site The American Thinker, a glowing review of Bush's choice in Harriet Miers. Finding anger and depression exhausting, I'm signining on to Lifson's optimism. I'd also like to share with you Lifson's astute summary of the differing goals and tactics that have been characterizing Bush versus the Democrats:

There is also a palpable hunger for a struggle to the death with hated and verbally facile liberals like Senator Chuck Schumer. Having seen that a brilliant conservative legal thinker with impeccable elite credentials can humble the most officious voices of the Judiciary Committee, they demand a replay. Thus we hear conservatives sniffing that a Southern Methodist University legal education is just too non-Ivy League, adopting a characteristic trope of blue state elitists. We hear conservatives bemoaning a lack of judicial experience, and not a single law review article in the last decade as evidence of a second rate mind. These critics are playing the Democrats’ game. The GOP is not the party which idolizes Ivy League acceptability as the criterion of intellectual and mental fitness. Nor does the Supreme Court ideally consist of the nine greatest legal scholars of an era. Like any small group, it is better off being able to draw on abilities of more than one type of personality. The Houston lawyer who blogs under the name of Beldar wisely points out that practicing high level law in the real world and rising to co-managing partner of a major law firm not only demonstrates a proficient mind, it provides a necessary and valuable perspective for a Supreme Court Justice, one which has sorely been lacking. Ms. Miers has actually managed a business, a substantial one with hundreds of employees, and has had to meet a payroll and conform to tax, affirmative acttion, and other regulatory demands of the state. She has also been highly active in a White House during wartime, when national security considerations have been a matter of life and death. When the Supreme Court deliberates in private, I think most conservatives would agree that having such a perspective at hand is a good thing, not a bad thing. Other conservatives are dismayed that the President is playing politics (!), rather than simply choosing the “best” candidate. But the President understands that confirmation is nothing but a political game, ever since Robert Bork, truly one of the finest legal minds of his era, was demonized and defeated. The President’s smashing victory in obtaining 78 votes for the confirmation of John Roberts did not confirm these conservative critics in their understanding of the President’s formidable abilities as a nominator of Justices. Au contraire, this taste of Democrat defeat whetted their blood lust for confirmation hearing combat between the likes of a Michael Luttig or a Janice Rogers Brown and the Judiciary Committee Democrats. Possibly their own experience of debating emotive liberals over-identifies them with verbal combat as political effectiveness. In part, I think these conservatives have unwittingly adopted the Democrats’ playbook, seeing bombast and ‘gotcha’ verbal games as the essence of political combat. Victory for them is seeing the enemy bloodied and humiliated. They mistake the momentary thrill of triumph in combate, however evanescent, for lasting victory where it counts: a Supreme Court comprised of Justices who will assemble majorities for decisions reflecting the original intent of the Founders.
By the way, the one thing I'll never hold against Miers is the fact that she's not an Ivy League graduate. For one thing, SMU turns out fabulous lawyers. For another thing, after almost 20 years as a practicing lawyer, my own little empirical information chart doesn't give any automatic "5 star" ranking to Ivy League law school graduates. (By the way, while I'm not an Ivy League grad myself, I did attend one of the boastful public law schools that equates its teaching methodology to the intellectual, not practical approach, espoused by the Ivies. So I'm sort of in the same boat as the Ivy grads, but without the cachet.) The fact is that the hard scrabble mid-level schools, where practical lawyering is elevated above airy-fairy theorizing, tend to turn out much more effective lawyers, who focus on getting the job done rather than on advancing exciting new legal theories.