Many a conservative group, blogger or organization (National Review, Ed Whelan, Hugh Hewitt, Leonard Leo, et al.) are giving Harriet Miers and the President high marks for the way they acted in withdrawing the Miers Supreme Court nomination. This is rubbish.
The President should never have nominated her. Miers should not have accepted for three main reasons: (1) she knew her lack of qualifications; (2) she knew her lack of conservative thought -- the whole reason for her nomination; (3) she knew her potential conflicts and paper trail would create legislative-executive tension from her stint as White House Counsel. I will not praise the President for undoing what he never should have done, nor will I praise Miers for having the "courage" to withdraw although she lacked the integrity to decline the nomination.
Here are two major notes about what finally doomed the nomination and how the White House pulled the plug. Plug pulling first, courtesy Byron York:
According to informed sources, this is how the last day of the Miers nomination played out. Yesterday morning, President Bush met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, and others at the White House, where they discussed the problems facing the nomination. There were staff conversations between the majority leader's office and the White House throughout the day. There was a meeting in Dick Cheney's office in the afternoon, with the vice president and nomination strategists taking part, in which the fading support for the nomination was discussed. And then in the early evening, Frist had a phone conversation with White House Chief of Staff Andy Card in which Frist gave what's being called a frank assessment of the nomination's prospects [Read: the nomination is doomed, Republicans want no part of her and they won't fight the Democrats for her so it's time to cut bait -- TKM]. Not long afterward, a final decision was made, and Miers called the president at 8:30 p.m. to say she would withdraw, and the formal announcement was set for this morning.
And the ultimate doom became sealed when the Washington Post reported two of her speeches from 1993 (this is the one to the Executive Women of Dallas). The two speeches caused a notable number of pro-Miers leaners and fence-sitters to jump ship: Pejman Yousefadeh, Ed Whelan, Ed Morrissey, and her second-strongest (and until his switch, the second most wrong) conservative defender Paul Mirengoff to all conclude that Miers is no conservative. Indeed, upon reading the speech to the Executive Women of Dallas, Mirengoff made the most damning observation of all: "it's the speech of a liberal."
In other words, this is not the time for conservatives to congratulate the President for smartening up, nor the White House Counsel for realizing whatever she realized that changed her mind. Instead, conservatives saved themselves from another Souter, forced a president to take a step to keep his promises to them, and helped raise the standards for Supreme Court nominees. Those results mean it has been a good day for the right.