"It was a good fight, ma, but he won!": the GOP after Miers
Many of us have vivid recollections of 1976...
Ronald Reagan fought sitting president Gerald Ford for the GOP nomination, and came within an ace of beating him. At the convention, Reagan was forced to face a narrow defeat. He came out for a major press conference, flash bulbs bursting all around, cocked his head and threw out a trademark Reagan grin and said: "Well, it was a good fight, ma, but he won!" The press and the room broke in laughs and applause. Reagan not only had principles, he had class.
First off, congratulations to the anti-Miers team. They fought with energy and gusto, and they fought for conservative principles. They fought to convince the president to change course, and succeeded--the number of times in which that has happened can be counted on one hand.
Second, kudos to Hugh Hewitt. Hugh was badly outnumbered on this, but he fought with courage, tenacity, intelligence and determination--if you're in a fight, this is the man you want in your corner.
Finally, kudos to Harriet Miers who has conducted herself with grace and class throughout the whole process. She is an intelligent and capable woman who has served both the White House and the country well.
So where do we go from here?
I fought for Miers ever since she was nominated, but I don't think this fight has necessarily harmed either the party or the president or the country. On the contrary, conservatives have now shown that presidents MUST nominate for the Supreme Court ONLY candidates with UNDOUBTED conservative credentials. If they don't, they risk a major fight. This battle has the potential to reinvigorate conservatives and to put new steel into the determination to re-make the Supreme Court. This fight can prove to be the anti-Bork, an opportunity for the GOP to show a renewed dedication to Constitutional principle.
It is noteworthy too that the Miers nomination collapsed shortly after publication of a speech of hers that SEEMED to indicate that she supported Roe. There can be no mistakes like this again: GOP presidents need to nominate judges whose anti-Roe credentials are beyond question. They cannot afford to shy away from this principle in the face of opposition from pro-choice Republicans. Republicans have operated on a big tent theory and rightly so, but here there must be limits: even those Republicans who support choice have a moral responsibility to recognize that Roe is contrary to the Constitution. Pro-choice Republicans are duty-bound to the Constitution, and even if they think the states should legalize abortion, they have an obligation to recognize that Roe was a constitutional travesty. Pro-choice Republicans have a responsibility to support anti-Roe nominees for the Supreme Court, and not confuse their own personal views about abortion with their duty to the Constitution.
Fortunately, the GOP has quality talent that has recognized the wounds that Roe and other decisions have inflicted on the Constitution.
High on the short list should be: Emilio Garza, Michael McConnell, and Edith Jones.
Any one of these would unite the party and unite America behind an outstanding nominee for the Supreme Court.
POSTSCRIPT: Dahlia Lithwick has an excellent post on why GOP presidents can no longer speak in code on Roe: they must nominate candidates who are on-record against Roe v Wade.