Saturday, October 08, 2005

In the Sunday The New York Times, David Kirkpatrick tries to explain why Bush's base is so ticked off at the Harriet Miers pick -- and, unsurprisingly, he blows it:

...Some on the right said the reaction reflected a growing discontent among conservative[s] with Mr. Bush even before he announced his selection over issues like federal spending, especially after Hurricane Katrina....

Some reasons for the discontent over Ms. Miers may go back to the pessimistic view many evangelicals hold about society and culture, Professor Green said. "They kind of expect to be betrayed," he said. "They see themselves as an embattled minority...."

And on and on. Kirkpatrick also lists Bush's initial failure to back the Federal Marriage Amendment after the '04 election; right-wing disappointment at Reagan's pick of Anthony Kennedy and Bush the Elder's pick of David Souter; and even " pent-up aggression" after the easy John Roberts confirmation.

In other words, Kirkpatrick is clueless. What the hell does any of this have to do with Harriet Miers? If Christian conservatives are wary of Bush, why does that prevent them from backing him on this one pick? They backed John Roberts wholeheartedly, didn't they? Does Kirkpatrick think there's a vague, free-floating wariness or sense of discontent that would have surfaced even if a darling of the right, such as Priscilla Owen or Michael Luttig, had been picked? And if so, is he nuts?

(Incidentally, I read Frank Rich in the dead-tree Times and he addresses the same question -- and also comes up with the wrong answer. He thinks the base doesn't accept Bush's "Trust me" on Miers because Bush has been saying "Trust me" on many things and then failing, and the base has noticed. Er, I don't think so. Most of the base still loves Bush and hates whoever criticizes him on the war, tax cuts, religiosity, and so on.)

Miers appears to be religious in exactly the way that ought to appeal to the Bush base -- but it's not enough. Why? Because the Bush base doesn't really care about whether someone loves God -- the Bush base cares only about whether someone hates Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer and evolution and abortion and stem-cell research and Michael Schiavo and the "homosexual agenda." At the very least, it's critical to express, or at least hint at, enough of these hatreds that the base can assume the rest.

The people in the Bush base believe that John Roberts hates what they hate. They don't believe Harriet Miers does. They fear she's nice. They fear she'd be nice to liberals. They think she might think liberals are human.

They hate that. That's why they hate the pick. It's that simple.

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