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October 22, 2005

The Politics of Killing the Miers Nomination

After our earlier post about the White House possibly withdrawing the Harriet Miers nomination, Political Wire received an email from a staffer to a Senator on the Judiciary Committee saying it's clear Republicans want to kill this nomination::
"Many are wondering why the Republicans who criticize the nomination of Miers pushed for the hearings to start Nov. 7th. My understanding is that they are trying to get to a committee vote ASAP, so that they can stop the nomination in committee, while they still have the momentum in the media against her, without dragging the coverage out into the new year. Some GOP Judiciary committee members and senior staff have suggested that this nomination is hurting the Republican party, and that they need to get over this quickly. Thus, there is now talk of the President pulling the nomination. If they vote her out in committee, the Republicans in the Senate save face, and the Democrats lose their credibility to vote against the next nomination.

"Kennedy, Biden, Schumer, Feingold, Durbin, are sure to vote NO as things stand, and Feinstein, Leahy, and Specter aren't far behind. I heard from a Graham staffer that Graham and Hatch are also talking about coming over, but it's only somewhat likely that both will turn. Of course there is Kohl who will probably vote NO if necessary, but I have not heard anything from his office. The only thing I have heard about Brownback is that his staff has advised him against going against the Bush base if he doesn't have to."
But the politics is more complicated than a simple vote count shows. If Miers doesn't make it out of committee, Republicans may still try to position it "like a couple incidental defections led by the Democrats to stop a fair up or down vote, rather than a revolt by Republicans." This is something that some Democratic Senators are worried about. Nonetheless, Democrats "are starting to figure that it will be better to have a right-wing appointment to campaign against in '06, than be beaten up for confirming an 'unqualified Bush crony.'"

Things aren't so good at the White House either, according to Newsweek. "Behind the scenes... the comfort level is very low. Some White House officials are already worried that Miers's rehearsals for her hearings are not proceeding smoothly"


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