Friday, October 21, 2005

Krauthammer's advice

Charles Krauthammer says that it's "perfectly honorable" for Harriet Miers to back out because the Senate can't possibly look at the advice she gave to Bush:
For a nominee who, unlike John Roberts, has practically no record on constitutional issues, such documentation is essential for the Senate to judge her thinking and legal acumen. But there is no way that any president would release this kind of information -- "policy documents" and "legal analysis" -- from such a close confidante. It would forever undermine the ability of any president to get unguarded advice.

That creates a classic conflict, not of personality, not of competence, not of ideology, but of simple constitutional prerogatives: The Senate cannot confirm her unless it has this information. And the White House cannot allow release of this information lest it jeopardize executive privilege.

Hence the perfectly honorable way to solve the conundrum: Miers withdraws out of respect for both the Senate and the executive's prerogatives, the Senate expresses appreciation for this gracious acknowledgment of its needs and responsibilities, and the White House accepts her decision with the deepest regret and with gratitude for Miers's putting preservation of executive prerogative above personal ambition.

Faces saved. And we start again.
Here's a question: How does this help Bush save face, exactly? Even if you believe a disclosure of this information would "forever undermine the ability of any president to get unguarded advice," -- no, especially if you believe such tripe -- then you have to ask why Bush would have nominated her in the first place. If she backs out on these grounds it actually makes things look much worse for Bush (at least for people who can put 2 and 2 together).

This would mean that Bush A) is simply turning tail and using an "out" that, if he and Miers think this is a problem now, means she shouldn't have been nominated in the first place or; B) Bush simply has no respect for the Senate and expected members of his party to simply rubber stamp his choice with no information about her opinions and beliefs at all. If he follows Krauthammer's advice here, Bush will end up looking like a shortsighted idiot or an arrogant prick.


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