Graceful Way Out for Miers?

Charles Krauthammer and Ed Morrissey both hit on an interesting strategy for letting Harriet Miers gracefully bow out from the confirmation nightmare while she and the president save face.

Miers: The Only Exit Strategy (WaPo, A23)

Sen. Lindsey Graham has been a staunch and public supporter of this nominee. Yet on Wednesday he joined Brownback in demanding privileged documents from Miers’s White House tenure.

Finally, a way out: irreconcilable differences over documents.

For a nominee who, unlike John Roberts, has practically no record on constitutional issues, such documentation is essential for the Senate to judge her thinking and legal acumen. But there is no way that any president would release this kind of information — “policy documents” and “legal analysis” — from such a close confidante. It would forever undermine the ability of any president to get unguarded advice.

That creates a classic conflict, not of personality, not of competence, not of ideology, but of simple constitutional prerogatives: The Senate cannot confirm her unless it has this information. And the White House cannot allow release of this information lest it jeopardize executive privilege.

Morrissey came to the same conclusion independently and adds,

It even allows the President to work up a little righteous anger over the treatment that Miers received by critics and call for more decorum and patience the next time around. And the next time around, the president can pick someone who gets vetted by someone other than his or her employee, if he wants to avoid this kind of experience in the future.

It might work. I can’t imagine Bush or Miers is anxious to go through several more weeks of lambasting with confirmation hardly assured at the end.

Like Krauthammer, I don’t have any desire to see Miers humiliated. She is, by all accounts, a decent woman of significant accomplishment. The fact that she’s not up to the standards for confirmation to the Supreme Court is hardly disgraceful.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb Ely says:

    I agree. There are questions that the Senate should be asking. For example, it might ask about the constitutional issues involved in separation of powers involving a preemptive attack on terrorists. Since Miers has been involved in Presidential decisions, she would have to decline answering.

  2. ken says:

    I don’t have any desire to see Miers humiliated.

    It is a little too late for that. Her humiliation was preordained the moment she chose to work for the Bush administration. When incompetent people are the focus of public scrutiny they are sure to be humiliated by their own stupidity….like letting her law licence lapse, twice…like being incapable of completing a questionnaire satisfactorily, and like making a bumbling incoherent impression on every Senator she meets.

  3. RA says:

    Sorry but threatening to vote her down because of documents they have no right to is what the Democrats tried to do with Roberts and did do to John Bolton.

    If that worked this time what makes you think the Democrats wouldn’t use that lame excuse to filibuster the next candidate?