Harriet Miers -- keeper of the President's skeleton closet.
October 4, 2005 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Harriet Miers -- keeper of the President's skeleton closet. In the run-up to George W. Bush's 1988 campaign, Bush's people paid Harriet Miers $19,000 to review his military records, which are, to this day, mysteriously incomplete. This wasn't the first time Miers has been accused of helping protect Bush's military record. She was also accused in a lawsuit of using a Texas Lottery Commission contract to buy the silence of former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes about the assistance that he gave in placing Bush in the Air National Guard. Barnes kept that secret until 1999, when he was forced to testify under oath about his involvement in getting Bush a position in the Texas Air National Guard.
posted by insomnia_lj (51 comments total)
 
You'd have a pretty tough time finding a worse example of someone that would seriously be a candidate for the Supreme Court. Even many on the right agree with me on that one. Even if she is completely honest and ethical, she does not make the first tier, nor the second tier, nor the third tier of possibilities.

She is not qualified -- at all. She is a crony friend. She's been involved with (as head of) a law firm that broke the law. Now she might have some connection to burying shit for Bush?

My god, the man's arrogance knows no bounds.
posted by teece at 10:21 PM on October 4, 2005


But does she at least have some experience with Arabian horses?
posted by dersins at 10:24 PM on October 4, 2005


You mean 1998. In 1988 Miers was donating to the Democrats. The article gets the date right, but calls it a "re-election" campaign... which is mighty strange.
posted by sbutler at 10:29 PM on October 4, 2005


... or I guess the article is talking about his governor campaign? That would make more sense.
posted by sbutler at 10:33 PM on October 4, 2005


George Bush makes me want to kick puppies.

[and in case you don't get it - I LOVE puppies]
posted by twiggy at 10:38 PM on October 4, 2005


twiggy

Kick puppies really hard.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:47 PM on October 4, 2005


On the positive side, I understand she has a beautiful alto singing voice.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:06 PM on October 4, 2005


I was expecting Associate Supreme Court Justice Bandar bin Sultan, myself.
posted by chasing at 11:15 PM on October 4, 2005


Listen, could everybody please stop acting like it's wrong to hire friends? I'm a personal friend of the Bush family and I'm really pushing to get hired as Cabinet Treasurer Secretary or whatever it's called. So stop making nepotism out to be so bad, or you'll screw the pooch for the rest of us.
posted by shmegegge at 11:31 PM on October 4, 2005






There must be a bigger reason for a person with no judicial experience to be nominated for the Supreme Court!

There are plenty of well-regarded Supreme Court justices who were not judges when they were nominated. That, in and of itself, is not necessarily a disqualifier. Miers, however, is undistinguished all around and appears to have gotten the nomination because she was a close associate of Bush and flattered him (calling him "the most brilliant man she had ever met"). Bush likes to reward what he perceives as loyalty, and how better to do it by nominating someone to the supreme court?
posted by deanc at 11:46 PM on October 4, 2005


Charges of cronyism and lack of qualification were surely not unforeseen. Given that Miers is closely involved in forming Bush strategy, I wouldn't be surprised if she were willing to put herself forth as a non-serious Court nominee in an effort to soften everyone up for a more controversial yet serious nominee. They might, for instance, play it out in a bitter and extended debate that wears everybody out, withdraw her nomination, replace her with someone more john ashcroft-ish, and then cry foul when objections are launched at that candidate.
posted by troybob at 12:26 AM on October 5, 2005


(by the way, with regard to the rose garden press conference itself, did anyone else get the impression, based on his particular word errors and hesitations, that Bush was being fed his lines?)
posted by troybob at 12:28 AM on October 5, 2005


deanc - I think you're absolutely right. Politics aside, what really bugs me about the nomination is her lack of experience as a public servant. She's a policy wonk, so she wants to make the rules for everybody else - but she doesn't want to be held accountable at an election. I think that's a really dangerous personal trait for anyone nominated to a lifetime appointment at the Court.

troybob - I've had the same thought. Let's hope it's not true.
posted by newscouch at 1:12 AM on October 5, 2005


While it's clear she has to be pro-life, etc. just to be in Bush's inner circle, the only issue I think it's definite that she'll rule on is covering Bush's ass.

Say what you want about stealth candidate this or not sure how she'll vote that, but with Miers on the bench it's safe to say that's one more vote for never seeing any evidence against Bush, ever. Her devotion to Bush means she'll automatically rule in favor of hiding records, extending executive priviledge, and anything else necessary to protect Bush after he leaves the White House.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:33 AM on October 5, 2005


Troybob, I have been convinced that Bush has been fed lines since the second presidential debate -- particularly when he's tired; or possibly he carries off the presidential Charlie McCarthy act less well when tired. I'm not kidding, and I'm not crazy. I believe it was a major failure of the media (of which I am a part) to more deeply investigate that story, allowing it to become marginalized as the province of left-wing frootbats.

And yes, I agree with you, that press conference yesterday was a shockingly beleaguered, whiny, halting, weirdly paced, pathetic performance, complete with suspicious pauses during which Bush appeared to be listening for a voice only he can hear.
posted by digaman at 4:51 AM on October 5, 2005


God's?
posted by matteo at 5:07 AM on October 5, 2005


What I want to know is what dirt she's got on Harry Reid.
posted by lodurr at 6:01 AM on October 5, 2005


I hear if she dosn't get the nod he'll nominate Jenna.
posted by delmoi at 6:23 AM on October 5, 2005


The fight over having new Supreme Court justices that liberals are going to be happy with was lost in November 2004. Regardless of whether or not Miers is confirmed, the eventual justice will be someone George W. Bush nominates and a Republican-majority Senate approves.

The Democrats aren't in a strong position to oppose a nominee who isn't obviously horrible (not just unqualified), and I think their "we love her" response may be calling Bush's bluff (either that, or they're spineless cowards). If her nomination fails and he tries someone more controversial, they can say, "Hey, we approved Roberts, and we even liked Ms. Unqualified, but this person's no good."

There are plenty of well-regarded Supreme Court justices who were not judges when they were nominated.

People should have already known that, and I'm annoyed with the failure of the American educational system and the media. Ideally it would be common knowledge that many successful Supreme Court justices hadn't been judges (stupid lack of civics classes), it should have been the first thing mentioned in the news stories about her nomination. (The same thing applies to it being common for chief justices to not come from the Supreme Court.)

I'm also tired of all the bickering about qualifications, litmus tests, and what the nominees are going to answer, which comes up every time there's a Supreme Court vacancy. Both parties easily switch their positions depending on whether or not a president from their party is making the nomination. We should have a national consensus on what qualifications we expect and what the confirmation process should be. I hope that the widespread agreement about Miers' lack of qualifications can be a step towards consensus, but then I wake up.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:42 AM on October 5, 2005


"We should have a national consensus on what qualifications we expect and what the confirmation process should be."

Anotherwords, a litmus test. I think both sides of the aisle have rejected that. And we do know the confirmation process, it's where one side salivates over the nominee and the other heaps disdain and judgement on them. Meanwhile, the candidate never really has to answer anything. You have a problem with this system?

and not to add to the derail but Troybob, I don't think Bush is being fed information. If he was, he might speak like he actually knew something. The guy is a just a mess during these things. I noticed during all his talk about Iraq that Bin Laden isn't even on the radar screen of this adminisration anymore - and no one seems to give a shit.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:15 AM on October 5, 2005


We should have a national consensus on what qualifications we expect and what the confirmation process should be.

I generally believe that there is and that Bush, in a "I'm bored with the presidency, let me just do what I feel like," fit of pique, cast it away. It wasn't a litmus test, it was a shared feeling in Washington that "we know it when we see it."
posted by deanc at 7:21 AM on October 5, 2005


Anotherwords, a litmus test.

No, not a litmus test, which is requiring a position on a specific issue (which is usually abortion in the context of Supreme Court nominations). I meant a general understanding of what qualities we expect in a Supreme Court justice.

David Sirota points out that even the founding fathers would be opposed to Miers:
[The President] would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:38 AM on October 5, 2005


Great quote, Kirk.
posted by digaman at 8:10 AM on October 5, 2005


I think she's a hilarious choice. Just picture it; you've got John Roberts so adulated he practically glows, seven other justices with their ego's inflated by years in the lofty court, you got Miers reekingly unqualified and then as junior justice she's got to get up and answer the door in meetings. They are going to eat her alive. Bulldog in size six shoes my ass.
posted by Mr T at 8:45 AM on October 5, 2005


I think Bushy's on the right track this time. In fact, his approach to vocational appointments should be expanded. I think plumbers would make great sanitation workers, even if they have no actual education in the area of sanitation. Surely their experience moving water around can be utilized for moving other things around. Since I've only been a journaller since 1997, I'm not qualified to be a blogger, but I find that to be an advantage and not a hindrance. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about other bloggers voting me into some Blogpreme Court cuz ..y'know, I'd be screwed.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:52 AM on October 5, 2005


I think she's a hilarious choice

A born-again fundamentalist Christian on the Supreme Court at a time when the line between Church and state is growing fuzzier by the minute? Sorry if I don't share in your glee.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:05 AM on October 5, 2005


I finally understand why people supported and voted for Bush, they were just looking to get cushy government jobs. Makes sense.
posted by drezdn at 9:12 AM on October 5, 2005



I'll go out on a lymb here and make an obvious observation that no one here has made yet: It's just possible that she really will be her own judge.

[pause to accommodate either gales of laughter or awkard, scornful silence]

No, really, it's possible. Byron White was Kennedy's man, and he definitely went his own way. I admit it's not likely in this case, but ... well ... we can hope.

kirk...: ... I think their "we love her" response may be calling Bush's bluff (either that, or they're spineless cowards). If her nomination fails and he tries someone more controversial, they can say, "Hey, we approved Roberts, and we even liked Ms. Unqualified, but this person's no good."

So, do you think she's supposed to be a stalking horse? Do you think she's supposed to fail? I've been hearing people say that, and I don't buy it. I don't think people on either side really plan in that byzantine a fashion.

Another way I could read it (maybe this is what you mean by calling the bluff) is that they accept that her role is to just do his bidding, and this makes it all that much more transparent. Kind of a way of saying "Fuck it!" without having to pay the FCC.
posted by lodurr at 9:35 AM on October 5, 2005


Gravy: Bush was going to nominate a christian no matter what. I am relieved because the idiot nominated someone who will be ineffectual and she is sixty years old.
posted by Mr T at 9:40 AM on October 5, 2005


It's the right wing religious conservatives who will really be screwed by this decision.

They need to stand up, and decide if they want a court that reflects their values, or a court which protects the Bush family.
posted by cell divide at 9:43 AM on October 5, 2005


cell_divide, that's another aspect of this that's interesting, and it points to another possible explanation of the pass Miers seems to e getting from the Democratic side. The religious conservative wing of the Right has been seething about this, because it's apparently not bold enough a stroke. They want Bush to be outspoken and unambiguous; they want blood in the face, figuratively speaking. It's not enough to win; they want to win ugly.

The explanation this points to is that Democrats may just be gloating, in a way, and refusing to oppose Miers out of spite.
posted by lodurr at 10:15 AM on October 5, 2005


I hear if she dosn't get the nod he'll nominate Jenna.
Really? Jenna Jamison? Woo hoo!
posted by nlindstrom at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2005


So, do you think she's supposed to be a stalking horse? Do you think she's supposed to fail? I've been hearing people say that, and I don't buy it. I don't think people on either side really plan in that byzantine a fashion.

No, I don't really think she's supposed to be a stalking horse, but I've seen a lot of speculation about it, and if that were true, then my hypothetical scenario might be an effective response.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:03 AM on October 5, 2005


I still think she looks like Darth Sidious.
posted by Ben Grimm at 11:07 AM on October 5, 2005


"They need to stand up, and decide if they want a court that reflects their values, or a court which protects the Bush family."

Well that's the rub isn't it? I mean, they voted the guy in cuz they were led to believe that Bushy was a born again Xtian and would reflect their values. What they didn't know was that he's a wolf in sheep's clothing. He pretended to be on the side of the right wing extremists when he's always been for Big Money corporate interests. He's managed until now to make that look like the same thing, but the seams in his sheep costume have been showing for some time and now they're just threadbare.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:11 AM on October 5, 2005


It's not enough to win; they want to win ugly.

Hoo boy. You nailed it.

It's just possible that she really will be her own judge.

It is possible. It doesn't seem likely to most folks. This is a lifetime appointment; I think we deserve a nominee with an impeccable reputation. We should not accept a "Trusssst Ussss" line from our public employees.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:17 AM on October 5, 2005


sonofsamiam writes "This is a lifetime appointment;"

How long is that likely to be? Is she significantly younger than Bush?
posted by Mitheral at 11:21 AM on October 5, 2005


she's sixty, and she could be on the bench for 20 years.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2005


On the matter of GWB religiosity...

I think he believes himself to be a man of faith. I believe that he is in fact a religious man, which is a subtly different thing. He likes the practices and trappings of his religion -- takes comfort in them. But meaning? I doubt it. He operates on loyalty and solidtarity, like a frat brother. His "pack" are big-businessmen -- always have been, always will be. That's who he's with, when the chips are down; and what's more, he won't even understand why the religious right feels duped.

Probably he really believes that he's a fair man, an honest man, and probably he genuinely thinks the same thing of his cronies friends. When people believe something to be true, it can be nearly impossible to disabuse them of the notion.

As for Harriet Miers: For the moment, we can only know that the Frat Brother in Chief thinks she's cool. Let's hope we get some more information.
posted by lodurr at 11:58 AM on October 5, 2005


Sadly, Miers' (and my) alma mader, the SMU School of Law, has opted not to put together a web page about her.
Luckily, the University of Michigan Law School feels no such constraints.
posted by sixdifferentways at 12:33 PM on October 5, 2005


Bush doesn't attend church on Sundays with any regularity. That should tell you all you really need to know about his religion. He also doesn't seem to attend any kind of support program for his alcoholism, which should also tell you something about his recovery.
posted by teece at 12:57 PM on October 5, 2005


teece, neither of those really matter to me. I've known deeply religious people who seldom attend church, and I really can't succinctly explain how skeptical I am of the necessity for everyone who habitually drank too much and then quit cold turkey to be in a support program. (If I were trying, I'd start with a critique of the AA-promoted idea that all problem drinking is the same.)

That said, I'd still argue that GWB thinks he's a religious man, and in a certain sense, if you think you are, then you are. In his mind he demonstrates it by hardlining against abortion and birth control (which he effectively does by radically privileging "abstinence only" efforts), by working to erode the Establishment wall, and by "witnessing" at every public opportunity.

In his own mind, appointing Harriet is not cronyism, and it's not protecting his regime -- it's furthering christian ideals. At least, I'm sure that's how he sees it.

I'll grant that he's arguably a poor example of a good christian by your standard or mine [disclaimer: I'm not a christian, though I was raised one], but in his own mind, he's consistent and he's a good christian. And neither you nor I is ever going to convince him otherwise.
posted by lodurr at 1:21 PM on October 5, 2005


He pretended to be on the side of the right wing extremists when he's always been for Big Money corporate interests. He's managed until now to make that look like the same thing, but the seams in his sheep costume have been showing for some time and now they're just threadbare.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:11 PM EST

This was what was thinking about today on my walk: I believe the upcoming battle for America's soul will not be between the Democrats and the Republicans, but between Big Business and Right Wing Christians. So far they have been yoked together fairly successfully united by their hatred of all things liberal. Big Biz doesn't want to be forced to hire females and homosexuals and Right Wingers feel the same. Big Biz doesn't want the EPA interferring and Right Wingers think God gave them dominion over the earth. But at some point there will be a clash. Who will be the winner? I would bet on Big Business.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:59 PM on October 5, 2005


Big Biz doesn't want to be forced ....

I think if you snip it down to that, you've got it. The "females and homosexuals" part is just the particular manifestation -- a flag of convenience around which they can unite, when the Big Biz agenda is really quite other than what old-line christians would agree with. If it's cost-effective to hire females and homosexuals, you better damn well believe they'll be all over it. But they'll want to be able to negotiate a price break, of course...

Which is not to say I think you're wrong. I think you're dead right on this, actually. Except that I think the war is already effectively over. I fear the social conservative religious right is far too deeply compromised by capitalism (look at the various and lucrative "industries" that have sprung up to cater to them) to get out of the Dancing Big Biz Bear's suffocating embrace.
posted by lodurr at 4:12 PM on October 5, 2005


teece: "Bush doesn't attend church on Sundays with any regularity. That should tell you all you really need to know about his religion..."

I gotta take umbrage on that one. Not that I wish to ever come to Shrub's aid and defend him, but I don't go to church on Sundays with any regularity. Pretty much someone has to die or my mom has to browbeat me. That doesn't mean I love my God any less. I just don't believe in Man's interpretation of God.

As for his alcoholism? ...I question the spirit of any man who holds public office and doesn't imbibe of spirits.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:40 PM on October 5, 2005


ZachsMind and lodurr: I don't care if Bush doesn't go to church. Hell, I'd rather he didn't.

But the brand of Christianity he says he preaches believes in Sunday worship. Indeed, the pastor will often browbeat you for missing church. Bush does not regularly attend church at all.

It is impossible to actually know the man Bush, as he is basically an actor with a proven track-record of being dishonest over the last 5 years, but I suspect his religiosity is a sham (and that's another knock against him: his political machine regularly violates the 10 Commandments).

As for the drinking: Bush says he is an alcoholic, if I remember correctly. Or at least that he stopped drinking at 40 because he had a problem, and because he found God. It would seem that if he is really the born-again he claims to be, he'd have a bit more interest in religious service. The whole thing smells of "fake."

But of course, that's just a wild guess. I don't know Bush personally, and never will. It's not entirely important, either. But I really suspect Bush's true religion is power, and that Christianity is a convenient tool to get some votes.

Indeed, it is interesting that of the last three Republican presidents, none of them are consistent church-goers. Both of the last two Democratic presidents have been church goers. Sure, it could be a coincidence. But the actions of Republicans in general tell me that the party as a whole is content to use the religious right for votes, but that they are not all that really interested in God. I wonder how long they can continue to pull that off.

Miers could be the beginning of a serious schism on that front, but it's way too early to say.
posted by teece at 5:14 PM on October 5, 2005


I've posited this scenario elsewhere, but...

The National Enquirer has reported the Bush is drinking again.

So, one night, Bush gets really shitfaced. He starts trolling the two looking for a new Supreme Court justice.

He meets this really hot chick and says, "Babe, I'm going to put you on the bench, if you know what I mean."

She goes along with it and he nominates her for the position.

The next morning, he wakes up sober, but she's already wearing the wedding ring, so to speak.

Worst hangover ever.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:50 PM on October 5, 2005


Really? Jenna Jamison? Woo hoo!

nlindstrom, you need to remember, there's no I in Jenna Jameson. If only wishing could make it so...
posted by soyjoy at 8:40 PM on October 5, 2005


I served with Jenna Jameson. I knew Jenna Jameson. Jenna Jameson was a friend of mine. And Harriet Miers, you are no Jenna Jameson!
posted by jonp72 at 11:17 PM on October 5, 2005


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