On the November 1 Hardball with Chris Matthews instead of swinging for the fence, Mehlman was reduced to a bunt:
MATTHEWS: So you can‘t really criticize the lefty pressure groups when you say we‘re better off having all the pressure groups fighting.
MEHLMAN: I think it‘s fine to have people involved.
What I think we can do is we can discern whether what they‘re saying makes sense or not, on both sides.
MATTHEWS: So, it‘s OK for senators to be accosted by these left-wing and right-wing groups, these pro-choice and pro-life groups, right before they vote.
Told if you vote against our issue on this, if you try to have an open mind and vote independently on this, you‘re finished in the next election. That‘s OK with you?
MEHLMAN: I think it‘s OK for anybody to say whatever they want to a senator. The senator has to make a judgment and the voters have to answer that.
MATTHEWS: I think that I was hearing you come out against these pressure groups.
MEHLMAN: Well, I think these pressure groups—as I said, the public has to consider what they‘re saying in context. But, do I think they shouldn‘t be in Washington? They don‘t have a right to free speech? Absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: So, you like the way it‘s done right now?
MEHLMAN: Well, I think it‘s unfortunate that you have some of the folks doing what they‘re doing. But, I think the result is what you‘re seeing from the Democrats. You‘re seeing the twisting of a Ted Kennedy. You‘re seeing a Harry Reid.
Compare that to what Mehlman was able to say pre-Miers:
The American people understand that Judge Roberts is a superbly qualified, fair-minded judge, and that he will make a Supreme Court justice we can all be proud of. Someone needs to remind Senators Kennedy and Leahy that their constituents are the American people, not far-left third party groups in Washington. Democrats such as Senator Byrd, Senator Nelson of Nebraska, Senator Pryor of Arkansas, Senator Salazar of Colorado and Senator Landrieu in Louisiana should be far less concerned with appeasing the extremist fringe and instead focus on doing the job Americans elected them to do. (emphasis mine)
The anti-Miers campaign has eviscerated the conservative and Republican arsenals on this issue. Poor Ken Mehlman is just one of the first examples of sending our guys out there without a batting helmet and the ability to hit away at the issues.