Thursday, October 27, 2005

Unqualified Failure
Outside of everyone else whom Bush has appointed to any position during his term, Miers was perhaps the most transparently ill-suited for the post for which she was nominated. Her sudden self-removal reads almost like a scene from the Bush Admin's sex-ed playbook: withdraw before the climactic moment, and hope that the person (or millions of people) you're screwing will still respect you in the morning.

Under ordinary circumstances, I'd predict that Bush and his surrogates will claim that her withdrawal was a result of the vicious partisan attacks against her. But the worst attacks didn't come from the left flank, so if Bush wants to blame anyone, he'll have to start with his far-right base.

Miers' hasty exit presents a few other dilemmas, not the least of which will greet her successor nominee. If, as Bush has asserted, he searched the world over and thought he'd found the most best-qualified candidate of all, anyone he appoints in her stead will, by definition, be second-best at best. And America hates a silver medalist. Whatever lovely stories Bush tries to tell about not-Miers, he'll have to start by explaining why he didn't pick not-Miers in the first place.

During the Kerry:Bush debates, if such they may be called, Bush proclaimed that he had no "litmus test" for determining who would be nominated to the Supreme Court. I didn't buy that any more than Bush did, and neither did anyone else. Does anyone believe that he would have appointed a brilliant lawyer who happened to be, say, a gay atheist, even if the lawyer was objectively the most qualified person in the land? Of course not.

The litmus test comes in two phases: Is the nominee blindly loyal to Bush? and Does the nominee satisfy the base? Miers passed test one and failed test two, and now she's out altogether.

By the way… If Bush knows what a real litmus test actually is, I'll eat my phenolphthalein.

Also, Bush is infamous for his inability to recognize his own mistakes. Or admit that they've occurred. Or that they're even possible. But if Miers isn't the right person for the job, as she clearly isn't, judging by her can't-take-the-heat denouement, then Bush must face the possibility that he has once again erred on he side of cronyism.

Oh, who am I kidding?

Some will opine that Miers' withdrawal was planned from the beginning, and that he only appointed her as a proverbial stalking horse for his true nominee. I'm not convinced of that, because I can't believe Unkle Karl, even in the throes of indictment, would have permitted such a base-defying move to proceed as a mere ruse. Of course, now is Bush's chance to nominate the most far-right lunatic he can find in a pandering effort to service his base, and experience tells us that no amount of reality can shake the conviction of the most strident right-wing true believer.

I don't have the statistics in front of me, but I wonder how often in our nation's history such a low-approval President has had the opportunity to nominate two justices in such rapid succession. Bush has been a lame duck since some time in January 2001, but that hasn't stopped him from making permanently destructive policy changes at every opportunity. It's strangely fitting that, as he's circling the bowl, he gets yet another chance to flush the rest of the country along with him.

So, where does that leave us? Bush's every foreign policy decision has been disastrous, his every domestic policy decision has been disastrous, and his every personnel appointment has been a spectacular farce. If the whole thing were played out on-air, no one would believe it.

Heck, I can hardly believe it anyway.

On edit: Patient readers may recall this post from a while back. Well, perhaps Tom Noe will be more careful the next time he's put in charge of millions of dollars in rare coins.

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