What Beltway Republicans Need To Do
The premier source for
California political news
your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
tOR Talk Radio
House Divided Against Itself . . .
What Conservatives Owe Each Other in the Debate Over Miers
Platt Liebau] 10/17/05
In an age
when almost everyone acknowledges that the quality of civic
discourse has deteriorated, it’s not uncommon for political
debate to degenerate into invective and opprobrium. But what’s
unusual – and terribly sad – in the dispute over
the Harriet Miers nomination is that, at least for now, the
nastiest and most personal fights are within the conservative
if the Bush Administration can be faulted for anything in the
course of the Miers nomination process, it’s for having
managed to achieve what Howard Dean, John Kerry, Tom Daschle
and so many other Democrats have sought and failed to accomplish:
Dividing and alienating the conservative base. It is hard to
overstate the sense of betrayal, outrage and dismay over the
Miers nomination in some corners of the conservative movement.
Carol Platt Liebau - Senior
Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial
boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable
and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School,
Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing
editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found
[go to Liebau index]
every conservative in America was initially disappointed in
the Miers pick. Certainly, Ms.
Miers doesn’t have a
well known judicial philosophy, and although she is a very bright
and (by all accounts) honest and lovely person, her views haven’t
been articulated and widely disseminated over a period of years,
unlike those of many brilliant judges on the “conservative
bench.” Nearly all can agree that it’s nerve-wracking
to have to “wait and see” exactly what Ms. Miers’ views
But in light of current circumstances, the question becomes:
Does disappointment and suspicion justify working or hoping for
the collapse of the nomination in particular and the Bush presidency
in general? And, even more broadly, does the anger that some
feel justify risking the destruction of a conservative coalition
that has served America well in recent elections?
Those who support the Miers nomination – or who are willing
to wait for the hearings before reaching a conclusion about her – believe
that the answer is “no.” In this view, there is too
much at stake, including future Supreme Court nominations, progress
in the war on terror, tax cuts, social security reform and other
issues to allow as yet unproven fears about Miers’ judicial
proclivities to provoke a political meltdown. Certainly, this
calculation may be at odds with that of the conservatives who
oppose Miers without reservation, but there’s nothing shallow
or dishonorable about it.
Nor is there anything inherently “cynical” or dishonorable
about refusing to support the Miers nomination. Of course, it’s
essential that the decision to oppose is based on actual facts,
and made only after both a cool-headed evaluation of the nominee
and her record, and a “conscience check” to ensure
that the antagonism isn’t based on frustration with other
perceived shortcomings of the Bush administration, wounded pride
that one’s “advice” went unheeded, or intellectual
vanity. But certainly there are people of good will and impeccable
conservative credentials on both sides of the argument – and
their views are worthy of respect even on the part of those who
don’t agree with them.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of the Harriet
Miers nomination – even,
Heaven forbid, in the (unlikely) event that it works out as badly
as the worst critics fear – the conservative movement can
continue to flourish, so long as it doesn’t allow conflict
about this one issue to destroy decades of unity and progress.
Certainly, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and there’s
no harm in conservatives disagreeing, so long as debate is conducted
in the spirit of humility, with full recognition that the “other” side’s
position may prove to be correct. But when arguments become personal,
laced with ad hominem attacks on other conservatives’ motives,
integrity and intelligence, the damage can be incalculable.
Conservatives have no control over the decisions
that have already culminated in the selection of Harriet Miers.
And our control
over the ultimate outcome of the nomination may indeed be limited.
But each of us has complete control over how we conduct ourselves
in debating the best course of action. And we have an absolute
obligation to make sure that our words and deeds are worthy of
the years of struggle that people like Ronald Reagan, William
F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly and others devoted to the conservative
cause – even when some of us may fear that all they fought
for is in imminent danger.
It’s long been proclaimed that America couldn’t
be conquered from without – but it could be defeated from
within. Perhaps the same holds true for the conservative movement.
And maybe it would be well for each of us – when we open
our mouths, pick up a pen, or sit at our keyboards – to
keep that possibility firmly in mind. No matter the faction with
which any conservative is allied in the current debate, the conservatives
on the other side aren’t enemies; they’re allies.
“Shill.” “Cynic.” “Underground
Democratic troll.” “Sexist.”
Surely all of us can do better. tOR
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and
tOR / CRO editorial
director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served
as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Her web log can be found at CarolLiebau.blogspot.com