The Long View 2005-10-27: Nominations & Indictments

We are up and running again. Back to our regularly scheduled program of revisiting the mistakes of the past!


Even as I write this, I learn that Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination. No one said that Miers was stupid. Maybe next time the boss has a bright idea she will tell him what she really thinks about it.

The withdrawal was so inevitable that even I called it right. Now that it's happened, though, we have to wonder what will become of the movement that formed to oppose her nomination. Monkeys can make respectable websites on short notice (I have actually been paid for webwork in bananas), but the anti-Miers sites are quite elaborate and effective. The one created for Americans for Better Justice (an organization whipped up for the purpose) has a useful archive of commentary opposing the nomination, even a video commercial. The site called Withdraw Miers is less substantial, but seems to have a more durable sponsor, Americans for a Just Society.

Ann Coulter's column today was written before the withdrawal, so it is as much a threat to the White House as an analysis of the politics of the nomination. Still, the analysis is acute:

The Bush White House has turned into the Nixon White House...As president, Nixon imposed wage and price controls, created the Environmental Protection Agency, initiated race-based hiring schemes, signed SALT I with the Soviets and instituted rapprochement with the Red Chinese. All of this resulted in liberals ... despising him even more!...After five years of Nixon's ignoring conservatives — where else would they go? — when liberals came after him for Watergate, conservatives ignored Nixon...For five years, Bush has initiated massive spending programs, obstinately refused to protect the borders and signed restrictions on political speech into law...And now, although Bush has been bold and strong against the terrorists, it is beyond question that he has betrayed conservative hopes for the Supreme Court.

Here is the most important point, perhaps:

Then we discovered the White House actually believes everything liberals say about conservative Christians — that we are "uneducated" and "easily led." After administration officials snookered a few evangelical leaders into supporting Miers, they sat back and congratulated themselves on a job well done. But evangelicals are, at best, split down the middle on Miers. Apparently, Christians aren't so easily led.

No, but they do have a lively sense of when they are being manipulated.

The irony is that the president was in fact trying to fulfill his promises to evangelicals and conservative Catholics, whose goals he shares. The problem is that his strategy was to fly low, under the enemy's radar. You fly low enough, you crash into the trees.

Cultural conservatives don't just want another vote on the Court; they want a public fight about the nomination in which their side wins. Now they will probably get both.

By the way, the simple withdrawal of an unpopular policy can do quite as much to boost public approval as the proposal of a popular one. For instance, Mayor Bloomberg seems likely to win reelection in New York in large part because he abandoned a wildly unpopular plan to build a sports stadium on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

* * *

That the Miers withdrawal is linked to the threat of indictments in connection with the disclosure of Valerie Plame's CIA career is a good bet. No doubt we will know about the indictments in a few hours, but here is what the Washington Post was saying this morning

Remember folks, these are only exit polls, we don't know anything yet, relax, it's all speculation. . . . Oh wait, that was last year's teleprompter script.

Forget the part about the exit polls. Otherwise the script is still good. No story with so few facts has so thoroughly distracted Washington like the CIA leak story has this week. Yesterday was especially excruciating as we waited to hear if there would be indictments of people in the White House.

We may surmise that the White House thought another raft of bad news about the nomination would be too much excitement on a day when indictments might issue against the president's and vice president's principal advisors.

Let me squander whatever credit I may have gained for correctly predicting the outcome of the Miers affair by further predicting that no indictments will issue. The facts just are not there to support charges under the anti-disclosure law. A case can be made for perjury, but not a very good one. Of course, few perjury cases are very good, but sometimes they succeed nonetheless.

* * *

Speaking of an excess of bad news, the National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm BETA Public Advisory:

...BETA MOVING SLOWLY NORTHWESTWARD OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA...VERY HEAVY RAINFALL EXPECTED IN PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA...

The Hurricane Center is now using the Greek alphabet to name storms because there have been so many tropical storms and hurricanes that it has run out of letters of the Latin alphabet, which were the initials of the personal names it normally uses. There are still several weeks left in the hurricane season. If we get to Hurricane Omega, we will be in trouble.

* * *

There was some disappointment in Latin Mass circles when the recent Synod of Bishops did not take up the issue of encouraging the use of the old liturgy. However, the Synod did not ignore Latin entirely:

One of the synod’s 50 “propositions” to the Pope is that the language should feature prominently in Masses at major international events, where Catholics speaking many different languages are present.

Again, I am not a thoroughgoing Tridentine Mass guy, but it is irksome to me that Latin is heard more in horror movies than in Catholic churches these days.

* * *

Speaking of gothic properties, I am sure we have all heard by now that Anne Rice has returned to the Catholic Church, and has a novel coming out, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, in which the child Jesus speaks in the first person:

Rice already has much of the next volume written. ("Of course I've been advised not to talk about it.") But what's she going to do with herself once her hero ascends to Heaven? "If I really complete the life of Christ the way I want to do it," she says, "then I might go on and write a new type of fiction. It won't be like the other. It'll be in a world that includes redemption." Still, you can bet the Devil's going to get the best lines.

It's been a long time since I read an Anne Rice novel, but I recall that she did her homework regarding social history. She also seems knowledgeable about theology, though I gather she is in the liberal wing. Could she write the sort of novel that Charles Williams did, but for a wide readership? Maybe. Whatever she writes, it's bound to be better than the Left Behind series.

* * *

Here is a European misconception for you: Some Europeans Denounce Halloween As 'Bad American Habit'. It is, of course, an Irish habit, and much improved by its re-export to the other side of the Atlantic.

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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