Harriet Miers did the right thing this morning: she withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court. It was probably one of the hardest things she has ever had to do, and she deserves a lot of credit for doing it.
Miers' nomination, a disappointment to all judicial conservatives despite the protestations of some to the contrary, caused a great deal of, not strife but... debate within the conservative movement.
On the one hand there is a great deal of support for President Bush because he has handled the most important issue of our time (the war on terror) with stalwart conviction, and because he has held the line on taxes. On the other hand the nomination of an, at best, lukewarm conservative brought into sharp focus all of the, at best, lukewarm policies that the Bush administration has implemented during the last five years, and there have been some whoppers: the largest increase in federal education spending in our country's history, an $800 billion medicare drug entitlement, huge spending on Katrina relief, open borders, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and not a single veto in his entire term in office.
These "lapses" notwithstanding, conservatives know that they owe Mr. Bush a good deal, perhaps even the benefit of the doubt. Conservatism has made strides due to his political leadership, if not his track record, and conservatives know it. But nothing--not the war on terror, not minimal taxation, or any other issue no matter how important--is as close to the conservative's hearts as is judicial conservatism, specifically Constitutional originalism.
Conservatives of all stripes were willing to overlook President Bush's lukewarm conservatism because of his well understood stubbornness regarding the war on terror, taxation, and because he promised to nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of Thomas and Scalia. The nomination of Miers was a blow to conservative's confidence in the President, and made them, often publicly, reconsider their support for him.
This disagreement among conservatives was not, according to the leftist media, good for the Republican party and might even portend their fall from power. Conservatives did not see it that way. There was, to be sure, some over the top rhetoric but for the most part the debate was very civil and it made clear exactly where the conservative base stood and how much influence they wield. Conservatism is stronger because of this. We know exactly where we stand. Conservatives, even those who publicly supported Miers, breathed a deep sigh of relief when their dedication to the principal of judicial restraint resulted in the withdrawal of her nomination. We conservatives are pleased to know that there are enough others who believe as we do to get results.
What we believe seems to be beyond the understanding of those on the left, even though it is very simple. We are not interested in--no even more: we are opposed to a judge who guarantees results (and this was the best argument for confirming Miers that the White House could muster), even if the results are those we ardently desire. What we want is a judge who will read the constitution and apply the law as it is written. Without emanations and penumbras. Without resorting to fiction. Without consulting irrelevant foreign rulings.
The fact that President Bush, a man who has endeared himself to conservatives because of his loyalty and consistency, feels so strongly about Harriet Miers says a lot. I'm sure she is a good friend and a good person. The fact that she is a lawyer who works daily with the president means that she is certainly talented. But that is not enough.
Harriet deserves our admiration and thanks for putting the White House, the Republican Party, and conservatism first and doing something that would have been difficult, if not impossible, for most people. I hope she can use her no-doubt considerable talents to help the president for the remainder of his term.
But, now its time to pick a new nominee.