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From: Bart (
Subject:         The Slogan of Bushevism is "Incompetence and Cronyism is Our Business."
Date: October 14, 2005 at 1:53 pm PST

Harriet Miers is just “Like Mike.”

“Like Mike”--that is, like Michael Brown, former director of FEMA--Harriet Miers was nominated not because she was right for the job or because (heaven forbid) she can actually do the job of a Supreme Court Justice. “Like Mike,” President Bush wants to hire Harriet Miers because she has been loyal to him. And “Like Mike,” if Harriet Miers is hired, the American people will suffer from her inability to do the job.

To take control of debate on Harriet Miers, President Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States, Democrats should ignore “religion” and start talking about the “the job.”

Democrats should define the position of Supreme Court Justice as a “job” and they should use the language of “hiring” and “employment.” This is the last thing the White House wants. Instead, President Bush wants to avoid any discussion of Harriet Miers as a “job candidate,” and would much rather talk about her as a “person of faith.”
In reality, Harriet Miers’ religion has nothing to do with her nomination.

Consider this: yesterday (Oct 12, 2005), just when it seemed the Miers choice was heading south, President Bush described her using the enigmatic phrase “And part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion” (see the full quote here ).

To anyone thinking about how the White House attempts to control debate, this comment is a red flag. Such a strange phrasing. “Part of her life” is her religion? Does that mean she’s religious? Why are we suddenly talking about a person’s life as having distinct parts? What was the President up to with this phrase?

We didn’t have to wait long to find out.

This one sentence, tossed at the press corp, led to a frenzy of questions about “religion” in that day’s Q & A in the White House Press Room. One reporter after another asked a question about Harriet Miers and religion. And this seems to be what the White House wanted, as they were well prepared for this flurry of questions about “religion” that they brought on themselves.

With each question about “religion” thrust at him by a reporter, Press Secretary Scott McClellan made sure that he responded with the phrase “person of faith” (Translation: “Christian”), and--most importantly--by pushing a the idea that religion plays “no role” in the decision making process of a judge.

Here’s an example of how that went, yesterday, taken from the transcript available on the White House web site (that can be found here ). Watch carefully as McClellan floats this idea of ‘roles’ in his response:

Q Do you think Harriet Miers' religion is being emphasized more by this administration than Chief Justice Roberts' was?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Harriet Miers is a person of faith. She recognizes, however, that a person's religion or personal views have no role when it comes to making decisions as a judge. A judge should make decisions based on our constitution and our laws. That's the role of a judge. A judge should look at the facts and apply the law. And that's just like Judge Roberts. He recognized that, as well, that someone's ideology or religion has no role to play when it comes to making decisions on our nation's highest court. That's what the American people expect.

McClellan sure is smooth at setting this frame. But listen closely what he is actually saying.

Miers plays two roles in her life, McClellan is explaining. In one role, she plays “a person of faith.” In that role, she goes to church and is generally, we are left to presume, “religious.” But--and this is the key--when she is playing the other “role” of judge, the role she played as a “person of faith,” does not enter into it.

As a judge, she doesn’t go to church, but just makes decisions based on the Constitution and the law. Two roles, one person.

In fact, if we are to understand what the President is telling us (and I think we can, now), the best judges (as he sees it) can only be those judges whose lives are structured around playing these two roles: “person of faith” and “judge.”

Now, if we follow this logic--if we allow this frame to be set by repeating and repeating this phrase ‘no role’ as McClellan did--then we take on this very strange idea of Supreme Court Justices as actors. But not just any actors.
Supreme Court Justices like John Roberts, well, they headline at the courts during the week, then moonlight at church on the weekends. Two roles. One judge. Now that's what I call dancin' your way to the top!

Of course, the trap this frame sets is the now familiar refrain from the White House that too many judges “legislate from the bench” by brining their “personal views” into their decision making process. That is, a bad judge (to use the White House's logic) doesn't know how to leave one "role" at home when play the "role" of a judge.

Or worse: it invokes the virulent idea of liberal judges blocking Christians from holding office based on the “roles” they play on the weekends. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear Orin Hatch asking the Senate Judicial Committee why Harriet Miers should be blocked from becoming a Supreme Court Justice because of what she does in her free time--what "role" she plays when she's not a judge. You can be those lines will be pulled out if the Democrats and the press corp keep pounding away at Harriet Mier's religion, just the way the White House wants it.

And all this follows, believe it or not, from this little, two word phrase “no role.”

So what are we to do?

Well, to begin we should not be suckered into believing that the problem in the nomination of Miers has anything to do with the church she goes to. Certain key figures in specific Christian political organizations have become a real problem in this country, and that problem is about to overwhelm the radical conservative wing of the Republican Party. But for now, all that is a big smokescreen kicked up by the White House to distract the American people.

The real issue in this Supreme Court nomination is simple: Harriet Miers, “Like Mike” Brown, is being recommended for a job that she has no business doing. And why is she getting this promotion that she is clearly not qualified for? As payback. That’s right: Harriet Miers was nominated to the Supreme Court as payback for her loyalty to President Bush.

Just “Like Mike,” it’s payback time for Harriet.

When the White House talks about Harriet Miers “religion” or starts prattling on about the various “roles” that Justices should or should not play, Democrats--like all honest Americans--should talk about the “job” and the real danger to Americans that results when a President hands out important public offices as “payback” for loyalty to him.

There was a time in history when loyalty to one’s king earned one a position of importance, a landed estate, wealth and power. But America is not a place where loyalty to the boss gets the job.

No. We live in a country where the person who gets the job is the person who is best at doing that job. Not the person who jogs with the boss. Not the person who was the bosses room-mate in college. The person who knows how to do that job better than anyone else. And the more important that job is, the more important it is that they can do it well.

The Harriet Miers nomination is not about “religion” or “roles” or “church” or any of those topics.

The Harriet Miers nomination is about “the job.”

Nobody should get a job that impacts so many American lives just because they are loyal to the President. We've seen what that leads to.

For the next Supreme Court, Americans want to hire a person clearly qualified for the job.

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