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Disappointed, Depressed
and Demoralized

A reaction to the Harriet Miers nomination.

10:25 AM, Oct 3, 2005 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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I'M DISAPPOINTED, depressed and demoralized.

I'm disappointed because I expected President Bush to nominate someone with a visible and distinguished constitutionalist track record--someone like Maura Corrigan, Alice Batchelder, Edith Jones, Priscilla Owen, or Janice Rogers Brown--to say nothing of Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, or Samuel Alito. Harriet Miers has an impressive record as a corporate attorney and Bush administration official. She has no constitutionalist credentials that I know of.

I'm depressed. Roberts for O'Connor was an unambiguous improvement. Roberts for Rehnquist was an appropriate replacement. But moving Roberts over to the Rehnquist seat meant everything rode on this nomination--and that the president had to be ready to fight on constitutional grounds for a strong nominee. Apparently, he wasn't. It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that President Bush flinched from a fight on constitutional philosophy. Miers is undoubtedly a decent and competent person. But her selection will unavoidably be judged as reflecting a combination of cronyism and capitulation on the part of the president.

I'm demoralized. What does this say about the next three years of the Bush administration--leaving aside for a moment the future of the Court? Surely this is a pick from weakness. Is the administration more broadly so weak? What are the prospects for a strong Bush second term? What are the prospects for holding solid GOP majorities in Congress in 2006 if conservatives are demoralized? And what elected officials will step forward to begin to lay the groundwork for conservative leadership after Bush?

William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard.