Monday, October 10, 2005

Frum Fumbles Facts

I have always respected the NRO for their quality reporting and track record of accuracy. Recently more of this type of shoddy opinion based drivel mixed with half truths has been emerging making them appear closer to a right wing Kos than the top shelf opinion journalism I that have come to expect.

More talking over the weekend to more conservative lawyers in Washington. It is hard to convey how unanimously they not only reject, but disdain, the choice of Miers.
One commented on
this news story that Miers' favorite reading was John Grisham novels:

"Look, it's inevitable these senators are going to ask you some obviously stupid questions. You just can't give them obviously stupid answers. How hard is it to say that you are reading Jean Smith's biography of Chief Justice John Marshall?"

Another told me of a briefing session to prepare Miers to enter into her duties as White House Counsel. A panel of lawyers who had served in past Republican White Houses was gathered together. After a couple of hours of questions and answers, all agreed: "We're going to need a really strong deputy."

It's been reported the reason Miers was named White House Counsel in the first place was that she had proven incompetent as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. Her boss, Chief of Staff Andy Card, badly wanted to get her out of his office - but couldn't fire her because she was protected by the president and the first lady. So he promoted her instead. Now we learn that it was Card who was the strongest advocate of moving Miers out of the West Wing altogether and onto the high court - raising the question of whether the ultimate motivation for this nomination is to open the way to hiring a new Counsel by kicking a failed Counsel upstairs.

Few of the people I talk to can talk on the public record, although Judge Robert Bork has courageously done so and as time passes others may decide that they have to accept the risks of stepping forward and telling what they know. In the meantime, ask yourself this: Think of all the conservative jurists you know and respect. Have any of them had anything positive to say about this nomination? I can think of only one, Ken Starr, when he was interviewed last week on Fox's Hannity and Colmes.

And even Starr confined himself to vague generalities about Miers' "track record." I've reprinted the transcript below. Notice what Starr does not say. He never says Miers possesses a deep knowledge of the law, he can muster no praise for her intellect or abilities as a lawyer, he does not say she'll be a credit the court. He doesn't even say that this is a good nomination beyond a jovial: "She's terrific." In fact, the only specific praise he offers is praise for Miers' formal statement to the press accepting her nomination - a statement that, as Starr would know, was written for her by others on the White House staff.

Starr in other words sounds to me like somebody who has been deputized to go on television and find something good to say - and who is searching for a way to be kind without saying anything affirmatively untrue. So, as Ann Coulter mockingly puts it, he emphasizes "how nice, tidy, helpful, and prompt" Miers is.

As tepid as Starr's endorsement was, it is just about the only endorsement Miers has received from any conservative with an established reputation in the law. James Dobson, Charles Colson, and Richard Lane of the Southern Baptist Convention have all endorsed Miers heartily. Good men all. But suppose you needed a lawyer to go to City Hall to fight a parking ticket. Would you look to Dobson, Colson, or Lamb for advice on who to hire? I very much doubt it.

There are enough legitimate criticsms of Harriet Miers to offer up without resorting to obvious and quite verifiable falsehoods. Jay Sekulow and Leonard Leo were among the first to come out strongly in favor of the Miers nomination. Only an imbecile would attempt to argue that they are not "conservative with an established reputation in law"

The disagreement in the conservative ranks over Miers nomination is not neccessarily a bad thing, it may even be healthy. The attempted furtherment of ones argument through rancor and distortions, however, is not, and it needs to stop.

Frum certainly has altered the tenor of his writing since July 2005.

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