Thursday, October 20, 2005

The “I’s” Have It

From the New York Times:

The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers suffered another setback on Wednesday when the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked her to resubmit parts of her judicial questionnaire, saying various members had found her responses “inadequate,” “insufficient” and “insulting.”

Senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the committee chairman, and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat, sent Ms. Miers a letter faulting what they called incomplete responses about her legal career, her work in the White House, her potential conflicts on cases involving the administration and the suspension of her license by the District of Columbia Bar.

[…]

Veteran senators and aides said they could not recall another occasion when the committee had sent back a nominee’s answers to a questionnaire because they were incomplete. Former Senator Daniel R. Coats of Indiana, the administration’s appointed guide for Ms. Miers on Capitol Hill, defended her answers in the Senate questionnaire as a work in progress.

[…]

Some of the new questions may be politically challenging for Ms. Miers and the White House. One inquiry in the original questionnaire pointedly asked her about reports that in conference calls with conservative supporters the administration and its allies had offered private assurances about her views on abortion and other matters.

The first part of the question asked if she had made any statement to anyone about how she might rule from the bench, and a second part requested information about “all communications by the Bush administration or individuals acting on behalf of the administration to any individuals or interest groups with respect to how you would rule.”

Ms. Miers’s one-word answer to both was “No.”

It’s one thing to coast through Freshman English or your Intro to Theatre survey class and squeak it through the final, but this is for a seat on the Supreme Court. It makes you wonder whether or not this is the same person who has been the guiding legal force behind the president all these years as well as the person who helped John Roberts prepare for his confirmation hearings as Chief Justice. It makes you wonder what they are thinking at the White House; either they were thinking — stupidly — that she could just sail through with the Senate greeting her with flowers (where have we heard that before?), in which case they’d earn an “I” for “insolent,” or they’re putting her up there as a sacrificial lamb and have someone else waiting in the wings after Ms. Miers craters, in which case they’d earn a double “I” for “insufferable insensitivity” and a “D” for “deceit.”