It’s remarkable to see how Republicans are dividing over Harriet Miers.
By my count, these are the Republicans in the U.S. Senate who are considering running for President: John McCain, Bill Frist, Sam Brownback, George Allen, and Chuck Hagel.
Let’s see what they have to say about Miers.
First, here is a passage on what Senator George Allen has stated:
Concerns by conservative U.S. Senate Republicans about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers persisted on Wednesday despite President George W. Bush’s assurances that his White House counsel is the best person for the job.
“That’s the president’s, his description. It would not be mine at this point,” said Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican. “Who knows, maybe a month from now, I’ll say ‘gosh no wonder he thought that.’ At this stage I don’t know enough,” Allen said, echoing the sentiment of many critics.
George Allen was looking as if he was inheriting from Bill Frist the “favorite son” position from Bush in the next context — and Allen has been courting at the same time fundamentalist conservatives. So Allen is being disloyal to Bush while favoring the religious right’s views thus far.
Sam Brownback’s views are captured in this excerpt from the Washington Post:
Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” asked whether he would vote against Miers if she says the abortion decision Roe v. Wade is settled law.
“There’s a good chance then that I would,” said Brownback, a potential 2008 presidential contender and a staunch abortion foe. He plans to meet with Miers on Thursday.
So, Brownback and Allen are at odds with the White House.
John McCain, in contrast, is sticking with George Bush on Miers. McCain has stated:
I commend the President for his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court of the United States. Over the course of thirty years, Ms. Miers has accumulated vast experience as a legal practitioner, led her peers as the head of state and local bar associations, and worked tirelessly as a dedicated public servant. Her record is one of deep commitment to the law and service to our nation.
If the Senate confirms Ms. Miers, she will be only the third woman to have served on the highest court of our nation. Her accomplishments demonstrate that the distinction would be well deserved. I trust that Ms. Miers will have a smooth confirmation process and receive a swift up-or-down vote in the Senate.
Senator Chuck Hagel is keeping his powder dry but seems to be tilting towards supporting Miers. His statement on her was non-committal:
President Bush has chosen someone he trusts and who has a record of accomplishment. I look forward to learning more about her as the confirmation process moves forward.
But the Nebraskan Senator’s local press is spinning this as Hagel support for Miers — and is also highlighting Senator Ben Nelson’s very clear indication of support for Miers as reported by WOWT Omaha:
Senator Ben Nelson says Miers appears to be a sound choice. The Nebraska Democrat says Miers would bring new perspective and balance to the nation’s highest court. He says the best scenario for the country would be for Miers to be confirmed with strong support.
My hunch is that Hagel votes “aye.”
Majority Leader Bill Frist is going to be in the “aye” column also with his stong statement of support for Miers:
President Bush’s choice of Harriet Miers demonstrates a thoughtful, careful, and discerning selection.
Once again, the President reached out in a bipartisan and inclusive way, listening to the views of 80 Senators.
And once again, the President chose a qualified nominee for our High Court.
During her distinguished 35-year legal career, Ms. Miers has demonstrated her expertise as a talented attorney in both private practice and in public service.
In every sense, Harriet Miers has been a true trailblazer and a role model for women in the legal profession.
The choice over who will serve on the Supreme Court has been a vital issue to privacy advocates, those who advocate for gay rights, and those who want to constitutionally protect a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. But the Supreme Court choices made this year are also vital to the social conservative right.
It’s clear that Bush has frustrated the fundamentalist right-wing who don’t see a dependable ally in Harriet Miers. They may overplay their hand and actually mobilize her sympathies against their agenda — wheras right now she is nearly a blank slate on most moral issues while mostly being an advocate of George Bush’s agenda.
But McCain, Frist, and probably Hagel are standing by Bush.
Brownback is defecting.
And George Allen may see his presidential aspirations go up in flames depending on the choice he makes.
— Steve Clemons