For the second time this week, The New York Times, in an October 7 article, ignored concerns expressed by conservatives and Republicans that President Bush was motivated by cronyism in nominating White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Rather, the Times again attributed concerns that Miers is a Bush "crony" only to "the left." Similarly, The Washington Post reported on October 7 only that "Democrats" believe that Miers, Bush's former personal attorney, "may have been picked more for her loyalty to Bush over the years than for her intellectual heft or constitutional insights."
Some Republicans in Congress have expressed concern that cronyism influenced Bush's nomination of Miers. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) said on the October 6 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country that he "do[esn't] understand" why the Bush administration has "taken this extraordinary step of naming someone who is just simply a 'FOG.' That is to say, a Friend of George." And former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) questioned Bush's claim that Miers was "the best person I could find" for the Supreme Court. As the Post reported on October 6:
"Is she the most qualified person? Clearly, the answer to that is 'no,' " Lott said on MSNBC's Hardball [with Chris Matthews], contradicting Bush's assertion. "There are a lot more people -- men, women and minorities -- that are more qualified, in my opinion, by their experience than she is."
Other Republican senators, including Sam Brownback (R-KS), George Allen (R-VA), and John Thune (R-SD), have voiced similar concerns about Miers's record. Brownback declared that "'[t]here is a lot of skepticism around about her," and that he is "not yet confident that Ms. Miers has a proven track record."
Conservative commentators have also questioned Bush's rationale for nominating Miers. As Post staff writer Dana Milbank noted in his October 7 "Washington Sketch" column, National Review contributing editor and former Bush speechwriter David Frum accused Bush of cronyism, writing on his weblog that Miers "is being chosen for her next job in exactly the same way and for the same reasons that Michael Brown was chosen for FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency]." Milbank also noted that self-described conservative Mobile Register columnist Quin Hillyer said Miers "remains a crony, in the very sense warned against by [Federalist Papers author Alexander] Hamilton." Similarly, Manuel Miranda, a Wall Street Journal columnist and former staffer to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), suggested that "the president has made possibly the most unqualified choice since Abe Fortas, who had [also] been the president's lawyer."
As Media Matters for America has documented, other conservatives who have directly accused the Bush administration of cronyism for nominating Miers include: Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, MSNBC analyst and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, National Review editor Rich Lowry, and conservative pundit Michelle Malkin.
From the October 7 New York Times report, by reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg:
Ms. Miers, the White House counsel and former president of the State Bar of Texas, has been assiduously courting senators since Monday, when President Bush announced that he had picked her to fill the seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a critical swing vote. But the selection has drawn intense criticism from both ends of the political spectrum, with the left labeling Ms. Miers a crony and the right complaining that Mr. Bush has squandered a chance to pick a candidate with demonstrable conservative credentials.
From the October 7 Washington Post article, by staff writers Shailagh Murray and Charles Babington:
Conservatives such as Brownback had hoped Bush would pick a nominee with unequivocal convictions on abortion, same-sex marriage and other hot-button issues, and whose vote could move the court decisively to the right. Their problem with Miers is that, as the White House counsel and Bush's former personal lawyer, she has left no trail of documents, judicial decisions or other evidence to suggest where she stands on any constitutional matter.
Miers's close ties to Bush are the seed of many Democrats' doubts about her. They suspect she may have been picked more for her loyalty to Bush over the years than for her intellectual heft or constitutional insights.
That makes Democrats as eager as Republicans to hear Miers expound on all sorts of matters -- setting the stage for a confirmation hearing that could be far more revealing than the one conducted last month for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.