by Jerome Armstrong, Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 05:17:35 AM EDT
The effect was to raise their personal stakes in the Miers choice even higher. Her rejection, they implied, would not challenge merely her own qualifications but the Bushes' judgment about her worth.
Thus, with one fateful choice, the president both heightened the political bet he made and managed, for the first time, to open a major breach within his coalition of supporters. In a misguided effort to reassure them, her backers then touted her adult conversion to a fundamentalist faith -- implying that the religious right should take comfort. The criticism of the tactic caused the White House to reverse course.Placating them won't work, anymore than it does on the left. The polls I saw showed about 65% support for Miers by conservatives. That's potential of 35% opposition to Miers isn't enough to stop her confirmation, and it might not be even enough to sway some or any of the potential 2008 Republican Presidential candiates to vote against her, though it might. If it does, then this will be the first shot across the bow of the Republican establishment in quite a while. But what would it mean? It seems a loose confederacy of insurgents. Some paleocons, some theocons, some libertarians. It would seem that the Republicans are having the same sort of split on their side that we see on ours, over ideology vs partisanship (or idealism vs pragmatism).
To really see them gain traction against the GOP establishment, the leader would need to combine this opposition with some sort of contra-Bush positionover the Iraq occupation-- that would be tough. Easier would be enlarging the already forming rift over illegal immigration; or a clamour for devisive social amendments. I don't see it happening, just the potential.
Over such issues, Bush will not compromise, but there's a forming groundswell ready to fight him over the matters in the Republican Party. But is there an '08 leader for the GOP that will go there? Brownback or Gingrich comes to mind more than any other candidate, maybe Santorum changes course? Tancredo is around as well... Though the Miers opposition shows the potency, it'll likely take '06 losses for this anti-establishment movement to emerge substantially within the Republican ranks.
Update: Will Marshall, via Ryan Liza, Life After BushThis is intra-conservative warfare between the faith-based conservatives and the reality-based conservatives." And, by "faith," he means not faith in God, but faith in Bush. In other words, the real split over Miers is between conservatives who worship Bush and those who worship conservatism. One camp believes in the infallibility of the president. The other camp believes the evidence before them. Fred Barnes and James Dobson are faith-based conservatives. Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer are reality-based conservatives. Hugh Hewitt is faith-based. Ramesh Ponnuru is reality-based.