OK, just speculating here. What if the scenario is supposed to play out this way:
Bush appoints obviously unqualified personal retainer for the high court;
She's a woman: Bush gets points for this with some people;
She's not a right-wing ideologue: Bush gets points with certain people for this;
However, the right-wing is up in arms with vociferous objections: they want a true believer to reshape the court;
The manstream media latches onto the problems with the nominee (unqualified) and political problems with the nomination (not supported by powerful forces, i.e. the right-wing punditocracy);
The media starts talking about Harold Carswell, the Nixon S.C. nominee who was a mediocre choice at best (leading one Senator to say about him "Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they?"). Carswell's nomination was ultimately defeated;
To avoid the "Carswell dilemma," Bush withdraws Miers from consideration (or perhaps Miers, ever loyal to the most brilliant man she ever met, removes herself "in the best interests of the President and the country");
Bush them nominates a stealth candidate, someone with judicial experience and a paper trail that conservatives can appreciate, but which is subject to possible innocent interpretation (on the model of Roberts);
Happy to have gotten somebody with more potential right-wing bona fides, the right supports this nomination, even though they're not overwhelmed with joy;
The Democrats object, but their objections can't find any purchase because the media, having blown its wad pontificating about Miers, can't bring itself to take arms against the new nominee (especially since those same powerful forces that dissed Miers are now supporting the new guy -- and it will most probably be a guy, perhaps even a minority -- more points for Bush);
The new nominee is confirmed;
Bush and Rove have pulled off a perfect head fake.
The Bush administration is about setting up the legal and institutional framework for a Republican majority for the next generation. That is Karl Rove's raison d'etre, beyond Junior, beyond conservatism, beyond ideology.
Harriet Miers is the official machine justice, a made woman, the one whose only committment and loyalty will be to Karl Rove and George Bush. I'm sure they would have preferred Alberto Gonzales but he is too much of a known quantity to easily finesse the varying political requirements within the base. She will do just fine. She is their creature. Her purpose on the court is to assist the Republican party in any way necessary, not to advance conservatism.
Voting for business interests is, of course, a given. Now the Texas mafia and the spawn of the college Republicans have their own seat on the highest court in the land for the next 20 years. But having one on the court for the next 10 years is crucial. With the election fixing, gerrymandering, corruption and executive power cases coming before the court over the next few years, her position will be very important to the GOP machine. It may very well be personally important to Karl Rove himself.
This nomination ... is clearly all Bush. He interjected himself in the process and it shows. And the reason it shows is because it’s a reflection of his disconnect with the world around him – and of the dissent-free yes-man-ism endemic to this White House. Bush doesn’t read and isn’t curious and probably gets all his news through his staffers (see, e.g., Katrina DVD). In this sense, Bush is incapable of making sound decisions as a matter of epistemology – i.e., he lacks the information necessary to make informed decisions because he lives in a bubble.
Combined with this obliviousness we have a White House staff too scared to contradict him. My bet is that no one in the White House wanted Miers to be nominated except Miers and Bush. (I’m not sure where Rove – who does read – was on all this, but like Billmon said, he’s got a lot on his mind these days). No one wanted to tell Bush that this was a poor choice, or that his much ballyhooed instincts were wrong, or that the base would revolt. And that of course is merely another manifestation of the flawed policy-making apparatus that led to our Iraq failures. The people at the top of the hierarchy settle on a plan and no one challenges them. And that's because the White House discourages dissent - often by marginalizing or firing the dissenters. It doesn’t take long for the staff to get the message and to avoid even the appearance of being skeptical of anything that the powers-that-be decide on.
Here's my guess: if he had picked a highly qualified moderate with a long paper trail, it would have been way too obvious that he really was backing down from a fight. Conversely, by nominating Miers, he's got everyone convinced that he's just picking a friend. Sure, the base is temporarily pissed that he's let them down, but before long they'll convince themselves that (a) it's just cronyism and (b) she's probably pretty conservative after all (especially after Dick Cheney has spent enough time peddling her conservative cred to Limbaugh and Hannity).
Following the Civil War, Republican Presidents placed a series of railroad lawyers on the Court with little or no judicial experience, but plenty of experience as counselors to business. That's what Miers is essentially, a Texas lawyer with lots of business connections who advised corporate clients, including, most importantly, George W. Bush. He liked the advice she gave him, and so she followed him during his career.
Presidents don't choose this kind of nominee because they want a revolution. They choose them because they will give the executive a free hand, and, perhaps most important, because the nominee will help ensure a pro-business climate.
And what, exactly, does business want? Overturning the New Deal? The Constitution in Exile? The return of God to the public schools? The end of affirmative action? Outlawing abortion once and for all? Squashing gays and lesbians underfoot? None of these things. What business wants is stability, comfort, predictability, and an agile, productive, submissive and demobilized population. It wants a powerful executive that can protect America's interests abroad. It wants a Congress freed from federal judicial oversight that is able to dish out the pork, jiggle the tax code and deregulate the economy according to its ever shifting concerns and interests. And it wants a Supreme Court that will give a pro-business President and a pro-business Congress a free hand, a Court that will protect the rights of employers over employees, advertisers over consumer groups, and corporations over environmentalists.
It wants, in short, someone very much like Harriet Miers.
Update: (10/4): Tapped picked up on my "head fake" scenario, although without attribution. This was posted there by Michael Tomasky at 1:53pm this afternoon (my post was put up at 11:55pm last night):
I SWEAR I HEARD IT. I was just talking to a conservative acquaintance who gave me the latest thinking in conservative circles: that Harriet Miers is a fake nominee. The backstory (can a theory have a backstory?) is essentially that Miers is the easy outside curveball before the fastball that comes in zipping in on the knuckles. That is, she gets sent up, everyone sees how unqualified she is, the hearings go badly, she gets withdrawn, they’re popping the champagne in the Democratic cloakroom -- and then, boom, Janice Rogers Brown! And the Democrats, having used up one more round of SCOTUS ammo, are caught flatfooted.
It’s a little implausible, of course, because it’s the Democrats who like Miers, so they won’t be using up any ammo on her. But it’s interesting, because it sounds like the kind of paranoid thing that we would make up about them, ascribing to them more strategic deviousness than they’re actually capable of. Post-Miers, they’re making it up about themselves.
It's interesting that the right has picked up on this scenario as a way of calmng themselves down about Miers. The paradox is that the head fake won't work if the right calms down -- they have to keep the pressure up in order for the thing to work.
Update (10/5): The Sphragis points me to his comment on TPM Cafe outlining the same theory, timestamped 13 1/2 hours earlier than my post. I'm pretty sure I never read it, and hope this is simply a case of GMTA. In any case, I bow to his priority of publication.
Update (10/7): I've also come across the same thought, albeit in extremely abbreviated form, on Rox Populi, timestamped at 7:37am the same day. Another example of GMTA.
Update (10/27): So, was Miers a head fake? See this.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
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i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
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Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
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