On Thursday, October 27, the impending indictment of Scooter Libby was the second story in a lot of news broadcasts and papers. The lead was the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court. The timing was no accident, of course, but the larger truth is that Miers was simply unacceptable to a rightwing base that has been eating bloody red meat with respect to the courts since the Terri Schiavo case and Justice Sunday earlier this year. William Kristol's reaction on the first day of Miers' nomination: "disappointed, depressed, demoralized." Phyllis Schlafly concurred: "[O]ur disappointment is acute." As a result of the wingnuts' severe displeasure, a new word has even been coined. If to "get 'borked' was 'to be unscrupulously torpedoed by an opponent . . . to get 'miered' [i]s to be 'unscrupulously torpedoed by an ally.'"
The solution, according to uber-Republican Richard Viguerie, is simple: "At 38 to 39 percent support in the polls, the main thing [Bush] needs is a fight, an ideological battle to energize his supporters. He needs to pick someone who will drive Ted Kennedy up the wall."
As far as Viguerie is concerned, Miers' withdrawal has already pumped up the base. "It's not often that you go toe to toe with the president of the United States of your own party and beat him," he said. "It is very satisfying."
Amy, I have been working on Supreme Court nominations since 1975, when I was Republican chief counsel to Senator Edward W. Brooke. I have never seen anything like this. This has been an astonishing spectacle. The President was attacked from within his own base, and he was pounded day after day, as was Harriet Miers. He basically surrendered. It was an abject total capitulation to the rightwing special interest groups. They want someone on the court that is going to be a guaranteed vote to overturn scores of Supreme Court precedents going back 70 years, affecting privacy, equal opportunity, the environment, religious liberty, reproductive health, reproductive rights.
While we on the left have been eagerly awaiting Fitzmas and stockings stuffed with indictments, the right has been working furiously. An examination of the views of Janice Rogers Brown, who was recently elevated to a Circuit bench as the result of a "compromise" to save the filibuster, can elucidate the nature of their project, because Brown, according to Neas,
is probably more candid than just about any nominee that has come before the Senate. She basically thinks that everything that happened since the 1930s in the Supreme Court has been erroneously decided. The right likes to talk about the Constitution being in exile and that they have to bring back that Constitution and redefine key Constitutional provisions, with respect to the Spending Clause, the Commerce Clause, the Fourteenth Amendment. She is one of the most fierce, strongest advocates of the Constitution in exile, and, again, like Priscilla Owen, would definitely engender a fierce fight on the Senate floor and in the committee.
The Constitution in Exile: that's a pretty ominous concept. Let's call the proponents of this revolutionary do-over of modern American society the CEXers (pronounced "sexers") for short.
The CEXers could call for the nomination of Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owens or Carolyn Kuhl, all of whom openly endorse the overturning of huge swaths of settled law. A nomination from this contaminated gene pool would be a completely destabilizing move, insuring a huge fight in this already-divided country exactly what Viguerie and his ilk want.
Or, in a slightly less exuberant mode, they could nominate someone in the mold of John Roberts, who endorses and believes in everything attributed to Janice Rogers above, without the liability of having said so in public. Paul Clement, who is currently Solicitor General and has argued 20 cases before the High Court would fill that bill to perfection. Clement is 39 years old.
We are dealing with an illegal junta that know they're running out of time. A Pew Poll released last week shows that, within the universe of George Bush's free-falling numbers, super-majorities of what Democratic pollster Ruy Teixeira calls Indycrats (Democrats and Independents) cluster around the economic areas. Consider, for example, Bush's approve/disapprove ratios on his handling of the following economic issues: Social Security (12 percent/40 percent), the gap between rich and poor (8 percent/57 percent), and the federal budget deficit (6 percent, 66 percent).
Teixeira compares Indycrats to Perot voters: "two-thirds . . . came from the new white working class, had low to moderate incomes . . . the next generation of Reagan Democrats." These people were very mindful of "their rapidly deteriorating economic position" and therefore had a "gloomy outlook on the economy and its future path."
But to my mind the key characteristic was their "economic nationalism." These are the people who were paying the price of NAFTA in the 1990s. A lot of us a little higher up me included didn't really notice. For us, the economy was booming; Bill Clinton seemed like an economic genius. NAFTA was one of the first intrusions of neoliberal globalization into the Homeland economy. It explains this group's collective disenchantment with Clinton: he outsourced them.
Over the years, they have been so thoroughly overlooked and marginalized, bled so dry, that they sometimes have very little patience with our middle-class astonishment at the atrocities we're witnessing. They are our allies in this conflict. We have a common enemy who is stronger than either one of us alone.
Unfortunately, the quality that actually does get the most attention is their "relative conservatism both on values issues and the role of government." Teixeira argues, however, that these figures have been distorted and misunderstood. On this subject, a recently released "Faith and Family in America" survey, done by PBS's Religion & Ethics Weekly, crucially debunks the loudly trumpeted rightwing claim to a "moral victory" in the 2004 election. It's a good time to revisit Rove's Goebbels-esque spinning of Junior's 2004 vote-rigging slugfest:
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).