Friday, October 28, 2005

How Miers Went Down

National Journal's Hotline has a nice piece (for subscribers only, alas) on how the Harriet Miers nomination ended. Fortunately, for those who don't pay, the site made available an excerpt on its blog, which I now shamelessly will reproduce below:
The tipping point came within the past several days. GOP Senators privately communicated to WH CoS Andy Card that unless they had access to hard evidence that Miers was conversant in constitutional issues, there was no way she would be confirmed. Her performance in private meetings was weak, at best, these senators told Card. Throughout the day yesterday, says a senior Senate aide, there were "conversations throughout the day at the staff level." Late yesterday, Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) called Card and told him in no uncertain terms that Miers would probably not be confirmed. An aide: "He provided frank assessment of situation in the Senate. [The] lay of land on committee." After that call, according to White House sources, Bush and Card met privately with Miers, and they decided jointly that preserving WH privilege on documents was too important a principle to risk. Miers officially informed Bush at 8:30 pm ET. As late as 8 p.m., one White House aide said the WH counsel's office was rushing to finish a revision to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. (It arrived after 11:00 pm ET). Word began to spread through conservative Washington last night. The White House office of political affairs notified allies at about 8:30 a.m ET this morning but swore them to secrecy until the White House released the President's statement.
Good reporting from what I've heard. Though the use of "tipping point" is really starting to become a cliché.

Competancy issues and an uncertain record were the main factors behind the failure of the nomination. The WH failed to sufficiently vet Miers's record and now it's paid a huge price. In retrospect, we should have seen something like this coming since President Bush seems averse to certain aspects of the presidency such as nominations and vetos. That only John Ashcroft and Colin Powell have been the only major cabinet secretaries to quit during Bush's second term is a good indication that the administration is not sufficiently open to revisting its approach to things.

Related: Miers's exit sets Senate calendar haywire.

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