Thursday, October 27, 2005

Snobs and Smoky Rooms

Apparently my paranoia is catching on. In the wake of Harriet Miers' withdrawal (I have to take a brief second here to hate on the east-coast bias that puts me three hours behind the rest of the country -- and I'm not posting a link because the story is freaking everywhere) other like-minded geniuses as odderie are expressing worried puzzlement over the strange series of events that have surrounded the coven of Supreme Court ruminators (how strangely appropriate that Halloween is Monday).

Most of you know how much intellectual snobbery irritates me. It's one thing to hold yourself to rigorous standards of debate and expect the same of others. It's quite another to criticize someone, on the one hand innocently proclaiming "we don't know anything about her!" and on the other calling her "unqualified" (I guess, then, we must know at least one thing about her?). Certainly much of the motivation behind criticisms of Ms. Miers was political, and I don't doubt that a fair share of it was sexist as well. But most of what irritated me was the latent elitism in so-called criticisms of her qualifications. She didn't go to a top ten law school, so clearly she could never make an adequate Supreme Court justice. She's a practitioner, not an academic, so clearly she knows nothing about "the law." Whether people were hiding behind their high-minded ivory-tower concerns while secretly harboring political motives, or genuinely thought themselves better than the woman actually nominated to serve on our country's highest court, these criticisms were, plain and simple, wrong-headed and ill-conceived. Sorry for all the hyphens.

So: might there be an ulterior motive underlying the events of the past month or so? Is Bush in fact an evilgenius (yes, one word)? People laugh and mock the notion that Bush has the mental capacity for such devious plots, yet those same people are quick to point out that he's destroying our country. Look, stupidity and power can do a lot of messed up things. But they can't destroy a country unless the country itself is dumb enough to let that happen. So I think people give Bush more credit than they say they do, and perhaps not even enough credit at that. If Bush nominates Michael McConnell, who now will have the jockeying power to ask, why not Alberto Gonzales or Janice Brown? Bush tried to give us a moderate woman, and we rejected her by hiding behind "principles" (and shoddy principles, at that).

We should be ashamed of ourselves. Well, not me, because I always liked Harriet. But the rest of you. Yup, ashamed, ashamed, ashamed.


At October 27, 2005 at 2:32 PM, Blogger Micah said...

I was iffy on Miers since the beginning because she's an unknown quantity. How would she vote if another issue like Kelo came up (which was a boneheaded, terrifying decision)? I'd much rather back someone with a paper trail which gave an indication on where she/he stood. But, then again, there was Souter had a paper trail...

It certainly has nothing to do with elitism. As a graduate of a shitty law school, I was actually pulling for her in that respect.

It'd be interesting if Bush nominates Brown simply because the GOP could take a page from Democratic playbook and label any hint of opposition as being "anti-____." Don't like Brown? You must be sexist, racist, anti-sharecropper, etc.

At October 27, 2005 at 3:04 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

I definitely understand hesitancy due to lack of information -- but what bothered me was when people would make that claim and then follow it up with "she's unqualified." That's just elitism, in my mind. And Lord knows that in my time at Chicago I saw more than my share of elitism :P

It would be funny to see the Republicans try and turn the tables on the Democrats, if they could do it well. Then again, though, they're politicians, and I don't have much faith in politicians.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens now.

At October 27, 2005 at 5:00 PM, Anonymous Ross said...

hi Law Fairy:)

Intellectual snobbery is not what sunk Miers. Rather, it was Miers' (and the administration's) own inability to convince members of congress that she was qualified. Speficially, she had trouble convincing _Republican_ members of Congress. (Since a solid Republican block could have pushed her through.)

Sure, there may have been some sexism and elite-law-school-ism motivating the congresspersons. But don't pretend that it was commentators, journalist, bloggers, or anyone else who shot Miers down.

And, in the end, it was the person who knew Miers best - herself - who ended her nomination.

Gosh, I miss the EBS.

At October 27, 2005 at 8:02 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Ross! So glad you stopped by! :)

I agree that they failed to convince Congress she was qualified -- and part of me questions Republican Congressmen's supposed "concerns" that she was "unqualified." I think it was a smokescreen -- they were worried that she was moderate (which it seems she was -- is, rather).

Prof. Sunstein has an interesting theory -- the criticisms of Miers were something of a cascade, whereby the idea caught on and not enough people refuted it. Congressmen are hardly insulated from the pressures of the sheep (their constituents) and particularly the interest groups who pay them. And regardless of whatever ultimately *sunk* her, it will go down in the books as an issue of disqualification -- and THERE'S the elitism we should fear.

It may very well be that Miers and Bush are cowards for backing down. Or maybe there's something particularly bad in these documents Senators wanted to get ahold of. I guess we'll never know.

I miss EBS too! Are you coming to Chicago next weekend?

At October 28, 2005 at 7:10 AM, Anonymous Ross said...

I really wish that I could, but I'll have to wait until the next Alumni event. JCA is giving me hell for skipping...

At October 28, 2005 at 7:50 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

:( :( :(

And so she should!


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