George Who?

The chances of confirmation.
Oct. 26 2005 3:36 PM

George Who?

It's starting to be cool to defy Bush.

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Today's Chance of Confirmation: 60 percent

Harriet's chances dropped significantly today because Republican senators seem to be increasingly unconcerned about snubbing their president. The day begins with a front-page Washington Post story reporting on speeches Miers made in 1993. The upshot of one speech seems to be that government shouldn't be regulating abortion—or other questions of "self-determination" at all. If that didn't give Sam Brownback conniptions, the same speech reveals that Miers may also be the last principled defender of judicial activism. Her big concerns at the time were also decidedly unconservative: the lack of affordable housing in Dallas, inequitable distribution of public school funds, and prevalence of all-white juries.

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But what matters more is the sheer number of senators running to catch up with the Harriet Sucks Express. Maybe Democrat Russ Feingold is no surprise. But every day sees a new Republican climbing onboard. Why this increasing willingness to part company with the president over Miers? The possible grand jury indictments barreling down the pike aren't helping her here. If someone high up in the Bush administration is indicted this week, GOP senators will feel safe, if not spurred, to flout the president on Miers.

Note, too, the subtext of the president's latest press conferences: He's no longer really defending his nominee as the best pick for the post. He's defending the privacy of his papers. So, why still 60 percent? Because Bush is still saying Miers should get hearings and a vote; because you don't need to be excited about her to vote for her; and because she still only needs 51 votes. She has a few hours until her do-over questionnaire is due. Hope she remembers to run the spell-checker.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.