Pushing the Wedge? Harriet Miers Divides Republicans


Republican heavyweights are scrambling to hold their team together after the President’s nomination of someone whom no one other than President Bush seems to want.
Republican National Committee Chief Ken Mehlman finally laid out the rationale for the right as to why they should be jumping for joy at Bush’s selection. It’s all about “the war on terror.”
No kidding — he said that.
From an interesting essay by Alexander Bolton (no relation to our unimpressive Ambassador at the U.N.) in The Hill:

White House and Republican Party officials are scrambling to rein in conservative activists critical of President Bush’s nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, yesterday held a conference call with conservative leaders to address their concerns about Miers. He stressed Bush’s close relationship with Miers and the need to confirm a justice who will not interfere with the administration’s management of the war on terrorism, according to a person who attended the teleconference.
And this past weekend, Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff, sought to persuade conservative leaders that Miers was a nominee they could trust if confirmed to the high court. In particular, Rove “worked over” Dr. James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, who is one of the most influential conservatives in the country, according to one conservative leader.
Conservatives began expressing their anxiety about Miers soon after Bush announced her nomination early yesterday morning.
An aide to a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee told The Hill yesterday that he had received many calls from conservatives complaining about Miers’s nomination and urging that his boss oppose her. But the aide said that was unlikely.
One member of the Senate Judiciary Committee closely allied with the conservative base, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), declined to state his reaction to Miers yesterday.

It is clear that Harriet Miers is now a wedge issue in conservative circles.
The question now is whether Dems can exploit this Republican fault line — or will Miers also divide Dems?
For more, check out this site.
— Steve Clemons