Further reflections on the Bush crisis

Reader to LA:

In your post today titled “Why Bush Must Choose a Conservative,” you make the case for why Bush cannot nominate a candidate like Gonzales in Miers’s stead. You’re right, of course, which is why he isn’t going to pull the nomination under any circumstances! The fact that he nominated this woman at all is a testament to the fact that he’ll never nominate a real conservative. The idea that he would suddenly withdraw her name from the hat and pick Alito or someone like him is just not serious.

Think of the fact that Bush did nothing—nothing—to lend Miguel Estrada a hand with the nomination process, allowing him instead to slink away in ignominious defeat under a hail of vicious personal attacks. Like any good liberal, Bush was willing to see a minority burned at the stake by virtue of the fact of his minority status, if only because that minority is a genuine conservative. Now that he’s willing to fall on his sword, destroying whatever political capital he has left and ripping his party limb from limb, all for the sake of his obsequious consiglieri, we’re supposed to expect that he will just torch the nomination and start over? No way. Not only does he not want to appear to have cowed to conservative demands—he isn’t inclined to do it either. You can usually know a man’s heart by what he’s willing to fight over, and Bush doesn’t fight over conservative principle. He’ll jump on a grenade for tax cuts and illegal immigrants. He wouldn’t jump on a cockroach for you or me.

No, we’re stuck with this insult. He’ll defend her with his dying breath, and would sooner eat glass than admit he erred.

LA to Reader:

I of course agree with you 100 percent as to Bush’s feelings and motivations. But I’m now speaking of the harsh reality that his folly has created for him. He’s got to get out of this impasse. He could do what I suggested. But let’s say you’re right, and Bush does not withdraw her and forces an ugly hearing process. That in itself will hang up his presidency and continue the crisis. And at the end, the likelihood is that she will be defeated anyway. So Bush would only have damaged himself and prolonged the crisis by staying with her. Then what? He will have to nominate someone else. Who will that be? If he picks Gonzales, he only continues the total alienation toward him from much of the right, paralyzing his presidency.

So, I’m not predicting that Bush will do as I advise. But I am saying that it is the only way for him to escape the mess he’s in.

Reader to LA:

He definitely has himself in a pickle. You’re right, of course. As usual, the only way out is for him to do the hard thing, the right thing. My guess, and unless I miss my mark yours as well, is that he’ll either bully this nomination through or he’ll let it die on the Senate floor. If it’s the latter, he’ll never forgive conservatives, and will nominate a reasonably qualified candidate “in the mold” of Gonzales, though probably not the man himself. Congressional Republicans won’t have much of a choice but acquiesce to whoever this is. In the end, he will by God have one of his own on the court, and conservatives (like me) who think that Roberts was a very poor choice are going to have to accept he is as good as we were ever likely to get.

LA to Reader:

“In the mold of” Gonzales. LOL. But it hurts.

However, if Bush does as the reader predicts, I don’t think his presidency will ever recover. It will remain under the shadow of the enduring hostility of the conservatives for the next three years, which Bush will have gained the old-fashioned way—he earned it. So he will have the left that irrationally hates him on one side, and the mainstream conservatives that have become justifiably alienated from him on the other. I’ve previously suggested that the president might simply abandon the right and make an accommodation with the Democrats. But given the Democrats’ fixed hatred of him and their total opposition to the central effort of his presidency, the war in Iraq, it’s hard to imagine that happening. So the bottom line remains: the only way for the Bush presidency to recover is by his undergoing, at least partially, the kind of reflection and change of heart that Peggy Noonan is urging on him.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 21, 2005 03:24 PM | Send

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