Maureen Dowd on Bush Jnr's "adoring work wives" Print E-mail
Almost laughable that the latest of Dubya's "promotions", Harriet  Miers, voted Jnr "the most brilliant man she knew".  She has either met very few men in her life, or like Jnr has surrounded herself with inferiority to mask her own mediocrity. In Dowd's words "There are only so many supremely powerful jobs to give to women who are not qualified to get them", but is there an end in sight? 2008 seems a light year away! - Lynette
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All the President's Women

By MAUREEN DOWD

I hope President Bush doesn't have any more office wives tucked away in the White House.

There are only so many supremely powerful jobs to give to women who are not qualified to get them.

The West Wing is a parallel universe to TV's Wisteria Lane: instead of self-indulgent desperate housewives wary of sexy nannies, there are self-sacrificing, buttoned-up nannies serving as adoring work wives, catering to W.'s every political, legal and ego-affirming need.

Maybe it's because his mom was not adoring enough, but more tart and prickly, even telling her son, the president, not to put his feet up on her coffee table. Or maybe it's because, as his wife says, his kinship with his mom gives him a desire to be around strong, "very natural" women. But W. loves being surrounded by tough women who steadfastly devote their entire lives to doting on him, like the vestal virgins guarding the sacred fire, serving as custodians for his values and watchdogs for his reputation.

First he elevated Condi Rice to secretary of state, even though she had bungled her job as national security adviser, failing to bring a sense of urgency to warnings about terrorism aimed at America before 9/11, and acting more as an enabler than honest broker in the push to invade Iraq.

But what were these limitations, considering the time the workaholic bachelorette logged at W.'s side in Crawford and Camp David, coaching him on foreign affairs, talking sports with him, exercising with him, making him feel like the most thoughtful, farsighted he-man in the world?

Then he elevated his longtime aide, speechwriter, memoir ghostwriter and cheerleader Karen Hughes to undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, even though it is exceedingly hard for the 6-foot Texan to try and spin a billion Muslims whom she doesn't understand the first thing about.

But who cares about her lack of expertise in such a critical job, as long as the workaholic loyalist continues to make her old boss feel like the most thoughtful, farsighted he-man in the world?

And now he has nominated his White House counsel and former personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to a crucial swing spot on the Supreme Court. The stolid Texan, called "Harry" by some old friends, is a bachelorette who was known for working long hours, sometimes 16-hour days, and was a frequent guest at Camp David and the Crawford ranch, where she helped W. clear brush.

Like Ms. Hughes and Laura Bush, she's a graduate of Southern Methodist, and she has always been there for W. In 1998, during his re-election race for governor, Harry handled the first questions about whether Mr. Bush had received favorable treatment to get into the Texas Air National Guard to avoid the draft. Though the former Democrat once gave a grand to Al Gore in '88, she passed the loyalty test for W. during the Bush v. Gore standoff in 2000, when she recruited conservative lawyers to work for the Bush scion in Tallahassee.

But who cares whether she has no judicial experience, and that no one knows what she believes or how she would rule from a bench she's never been behind, as long as the reason her views are so mysterious is that she's subordinated them to W.'s, making him feel like the most thoughtful, farsighted he-man in the world?

David Frum, the former White House speechwriter and conservative commentator, reported on his blog that Ms. Miers once told him that W. was the most brilliant man she knew.

Bushie and Harriet share the same born-again Christian faith, which they came to in midlife, deciding to adopt Jesus Christ as their saviors. The Washington Post reported that she tithes to the Valley View Christian Church in Dallas, "where antiabortion literature is sometimes distributed and tapes from the conservative group Focus on the Family are sometimes screened," and where, when she returns, Ms. Miers asks well-wishers to pray for her and the president.

Born Catholic, she switched to evangelical Christianity in her mid-30's and began to identify more with the Republicans than the Democrats, The Times reports today; she joined the missions committee of her church, which opposed legalized abortion, and one former political associate said that Ms. Miers told her she had been in favor of a woman's right to have an abortion when she was younger, but that her views hardened against abortion once she became born again.

W. is asking for a triple leap of faith. He has faith in Ms. Miers as his lawyer and as a woman who shares his faith. And we're expected to have faith in his faith and her faith, and her opinions that derive from her faith that could change the balance of the court and affect women's rights for the next generation.

That's a little bit too much faith, isn't it?
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The New York Times -- Saturday October 8, 2005  
By MAUREEN DOWD

Conservatives may consider Harriet Miers the last straw.

But what will Harriet Miers consider the last straw with conservatives?

Maybe it will be Bork Borking her.

The old Supreme Court nominee reject rejected the new Supreme Court nominee, calling her "a disaster on every level" and "a slap in the face" to conservatives. Robert Bork complained to Tucker Carlson on MSNBC last night that Ms. Miers had "no experience with constitutional law whatever," that it was wrong for W. to choose a justice simply to have a woman's perspective and that conservative reaction veered between "disapproval and outrage."

WHAM! BLAM! POW!

Way to crack the gal right across the kisser, when she's already on the ropes from so much conservative wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Senator Sam Brownback suggested it would be futile for the "very decent lady," as he dismissively called her, to compete with John Roberts's masterly performance because that would be like "following Elvis."

Pat Buchanan told Keith Olbermann that conservatives were "agonized," "depressed," and "virtually heartbroken," and Charles Krauthammer wrote: "If Harriet Miers were not a crony of the president of the United States, her nomination to the Supreme Court would be a joke, as it would have occurred to no one else to nominate her." Ouch.

Conservatives are shocked to discover that President Bush has been stuffing his administration with cronies and mediocrities in important places? If Ms. Miers were a sworn foe of Roe v. Wade and an ardent advocate of originalism in constitutional jurisprudence, would the same conservatives be so sick about her qualifications? Clarence Thomas, after all, was anything but a leading light of American jurisprudence.

The New Republic this week chooses the biggest 15 hacks in the Bush administration, noting that "no administration has etched the principles of hackocracy into its governing philosophy as deeply as this one." Ms. Miers wins at No. 1.

W.'s case for her elevation is their closeness, because she is, as Alexander Hamilton put it, one of the "obsequious instruments of his pleasure."

But there is some sign, at least, that there are limits to cronyism, even for the Bush administration. The president had nominated Timothy Flanigan to be deputy attorney general, a job in which he would oversee all U.S. attorneys, the criminal division of Justice and the F.B.I. His qualification for this was a stint as Alberto Gonzales's deputy White House counsel, a job where he helped write the torture memos. In Congressional testimony at one point, he said that waterboarding was a good thing, because it doesn't leave visible or permanent marks. After his White House stint, Mr. Flanigan was a senior executive at Tyco International, where his main contribution was hiring Jack Abramoff, the Republican influence peddler, to protect Tyco's offshore tax shelters. Yesterday, Mr. Flanigan withdrew amid growing questions.

The right is right about Ms. Miers's insufficiency to join the Brethren, even if the right is cynical. Actually, there's a lot of cynicism in the Miers affair. Those on the left are perfectly happy to look away from mediocrity because it is the lesser of two evils, because they were spared the nightmare of a reactionary maniac.

W. is so loath to leave his little bubble - where caretakers tell him how brilliant and bold he is - that he keeps selecting the people in charge of the selection committees. It's just so much easier to choose a sycophant who's already in the room than to create one from scratch.

He used to disdain pointy-headed liberals from Yale, but now he's angry at pointy-headed conservatives demanding some sort of genius for the Supreme Court, rather than a den mother who did all of W.'s legal wet work and who prefers John Grisham to Leo Strauss.

While the Bushies have been trying to reassure the right that W. knows Harry's heart, that she's a good Christian church lady who will vote in a way that will please them, Harry is probably working herself up to a good grudge against all those meanies who are savaging her as a lightweight apple polisher. Imagine! After she rechristened herself midlife as born again and Republican for them.

Even if she was going to be a loyal conservative jurist before, why should she be now, after all the loathsome things they've said?

The old maxim goes that a neoconservative is a liberal who got mugged by reality. But if you're a conservative mugged by conservatives, neo and paleo, it may have the opposite effect and turn you into ... David Souter!!!!