BUSH THE BUBBLE BOY: A PRESIDENCY IN PERIL
I've read a good deal of reaction today to the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court of the United States. [sidebar note: Dave
has an impressive round-up
] As a nominee, Ms. Miers looks, particularly alongside John Roberts who might have been the most judicially qualified human in the known universe, outstanding only in the degree to which she is underwhelming, bordering on mediocre. We shouldn't get too excited however as mediocrity and cronyism has a long and cherished record of adequate service in the history of SCOTUS. Mediocrity is in fact the historical rule. Ms. Miers is at least as qualified as Earl Warren and is more ethical than Abe Fortas; moreover she did get the nomination by virtue of actually working as a lawyer as opposed to, say, simply being President Truman's poker buddy
. Brilliance like Roger Taney's
on the other hand, we can do without.
Aside from a reputation of being personable, hardworking and gracious, that's as much as I can say in favor of Ms. Miers. It was not a nomination worthy of the ridiculous abuse being currently screamed from the wingnut sections of the blogosphere but neither was it an inspiring choice on Bush's part and one that points to a deeper problem. The President has an administration that appears to be increasingly out of touch with not only the general public but also the Republican base. On Katrina, on Iraq and now on Miers, one catches the whiff of drift, isolation and complacency.
It as if Bush II is eeriely beginning to replay the history of the first Bush administration but over twice the the frame of time. The Miers nomination was barely adequate and badly conceived by key advisers who have grown so cocooned within the infamous and seductive White House " bubble" that they imagined that Ms. Miers would be greeted with accolades. The Bush people are damn fortunate that their most ardent political opponents in the Democratic Party and Congress are intellectually bankrupt and disorganized because capable opponents would already be moving in to fill the leadership void and seize the initiative.
This happens to many presidents in their second terms. After years of aides telling them what they wish to hear, relating to fewer and fewer people outside of the Beltway, their information feedback loops become warped. They stop remembering how the rest of us are framing events vs. the connected insiders who fill their daily appointment book. The political OODA
cycle keeps misfiring until the " Observe " aspect is corrected by bringing in some new blood and reducing the scope of the protective bubble so that the president lives more like the leader of a great democracy and less like a high tech version of Louis XIV.