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    About time

    This is the first piece I’ve seen that defends the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court on the basis of how she’s going to do the job. “Why Harriet Miers is the sort of thinker who would make a good justice,” as opposed to “Why someone without a Harvard law degree, two decades of publications to her credit, and regular invitations to dine with the Kristols could make a good justice”:

    It is true that Harriet Miers, in everything she does, gives high attention to detail. And the trait came in handy with drafts of presidential speeches, in which she routinely exposed weak arguments, bogus statistics and claims inconsistent with previous remarks long forgotten by the rest of us. If one speech declared X “our most urgent domestic priority,” and another speech seven months earlier had said it was Y, it would be Harriet Miers alone who noted the contradiction.

    It may be, in fact, that a details person is just what the Supreme Court needs right now. If anyone can be counted on to pause in deliberations over abortion cases, for example, and politely draw attention to small details like the authority of Congress and of state legislatures, or the interests of the child waiting to be born, it will be the court’s newest member. As a justice, however, she will command the kind of respect that has nothing to do with being conservative, or liberal, or anything else but a person of wisdom and rectitude.

    Okay, so Miers takes texts at face value, has a memory like a steel trap that helps her spot inconsistencies, stays focused on the job at hand, and is more likely to fulfill her job description with self-effacing meticulousness than to try to make a name for herself. You could certainly take issue with Matthew Scully’s argument here–I’m not really convinced by it–but it is an argument, with evidence summoned to make a relevant point.

    2 Responses to “About time”

    1. Gaijin Biker says:

      The analogy is perhaps not flattering, but Miers could be the Forrest Gump justice: someone who, while perhaps not as staggeringly brilliant as some of the other justices, ends up doing a better job because she is also not distracted from the facts at hand by a genius intellect and the desire to show it off.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I can kind of understand that, but surely someone in the Bush administration understands diplomacy well enough to figure out how to telegraph it to his constituency. Uh, you know, “Unlike some people, Harriet Miers doesn’t happen to think the United States Constitution is the kind of ‘living’ document that can be read to mean whatever you want it to mean as long as you come up with enough rhetorical twists and turns to justify it. She will see what’s there and only what’s there and weigh cases accordingly.” He and his team wouldn’t have to make her sound mediocre or unambitious, but they would have to stop relying on her (I never thought I’d live to see the day when I was sick of this word) integrity and church-going ways.

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