One month ago today conservative pundits like the folks at National Review, George Will and Peggy Noonan "defeated" the President, a majority of Republicans and a plurality of the conservative base. They did this via an intense media campaign directed at Harriet Miers that resulted in the withdrawal of her nomination.
They also changed conservative political parameters. This is what they lost us:
1. That elections matter, and the President has the right to choose which judicial nominees will get to a vote in the Senate. In the Miers case a small group managed to block the President's choice.
2. An up or down vote on every nominee. Not only did Harriet Miers not get an up or down vote, she didn't even get a Senate hearing.
3. That the majority should rule. The pundits represented the views of only a third of Republicans (31%) and conservatives (34%). But they claimed to speak for the base and "rolled" over not only the President, but 53% of Republicans and 44% of conservatives.*
In practical terms, they got us:
1. Sandra Day O'Connor's swing vote for an extra three months--maybe more.
2. A long, drawn out process for the Alito nomination.
3. Difficulty in criticizing any Republican Senator, not to mention a Democratic Senator, who doesn't feel that Alito (or any future nominee) would make a good Supreme Court justice.
4. Validation that a minority has a right to block a nomination. Certainly by trying the nominee in the press. Why not through a Senate filibuster?
5. Republican Senators, 42 of them, who didn't see what the big deal was in slapping at the President's policy on Iraq by approving an amendment “To clarify and recommend changes to the policy of the United States on Iraq and to require reports on certain matters relating to Iraq.”
Kind of a Pyrrhic victory?
*from the October 27 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll on "Initial Reaction to Miers' Withdrawal":
Conservatives and Republicans are most likely to be disappointed. This suggests rank-and-file conservatives may have been less negative about the nomination than highly visible conservative pundits and columnists.