Harriet Miers goes down (and so do we).
Posted Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005, at 11:17 AM
Today's Chance of Confirmation: Zero
The fight over the White House documents was the excuse. The looming possibility of indictments of top White House officials was the subtext. The 1993 speeches in which Harriet Miers sounds (gotcha!) like a heartfelt liberal may have been the trigger.
In her letter to the president this morning announcing her decision to withdraw, Miers took Charles Krauthammer's advice and blamed the impasse over whether the Senate needs to review documents relating to her work as the president's lawyer. "As you know, members of the Senate have indicated their intention to seek documents about my service in the White House in order to judge whether to support me," she wrote. "I have been informed repeatedly that in lieu of records, I would be expected to testify about my service in the White House to demonstrate my experience and judicial philosophy." President Bush said that he "reluctantly accepted" her decision and agreed with her rationale. "It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House—disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," he said in a statement.
What really went wrong? Miers was failing to win over senators in her meetings with them. She was reportedly doing badly on her murder boards as she prepared for her confirmation hearings. And it's no accident she went down the day after she gave Democrats a reason to support her—in a speech from 1993 in which she appeared wary of government regulation of "the individual women's right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion," as she put it. The speech also expressed deep concern about racial and economic inequity and floated the idea of a state income tax in Texas to pay for public schools. "The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers nomination," Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid said. After weeks of backing away from Miers, he went back to reminding us that he'd recommended her to the president. Miers proved once and for all her toxicity to Republicans, which means that it's time for the Democrats to start lighting candles for her.
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and writes about law, family, and kids. Her forthcoming book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Empathy and Character. Find her at email@example.com or on Facebook or Twitter.
John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his series on the presidency and his series on risk. Follow him on Twitter.
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.