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(Mostly) Men Behaving Badly

I have to admit to a strong sense of disappointment in my party regarding the Miers nomination. For one thing, the gnashing of teeth and wailing lamentations from Bush-apostates like Prof. Bainbridge (who admits to "24/7" commentary on the subject) seems self-defeating. Instead of waiting for her to speak before the Judiciary Committee, they've made her out to be clearly incompetent based mostly upon third-hand commentary. (Sorry, folks, I could make a meal out of anyone if I were willing to take birthday cards out of context and had access to every silly thing they'd written.) That's not argument, it's character assassination.

In the meantime, a woman who is quite probably capable and competent is going to appear before the Judiciary Committee, primed with Democrats pretty much wishing her well (as one wishes well a hand grenade fortuitously popping out of nowhere and into an enemy foxhole) and Republicans torn between worries about her qualifications and the political fallout from rejecting a nominee. Despite some rather juvenile humor from the peanut gallery (sorry, Jeremy, but this stunt's beneath you), there's no evidence that Miers is going to make a fool of herself. Indeed, if she's as good a litigator as she seems, she may be surprising good at live hearings. On the other hand, the Bainbridges of this world have prepared their readers for such an awful spectacle of incompetence that anything short of the purely unqualified is going to exceed expectations.

In the meantime, the pure petulance of the anti-Miers brigade is bringing me more strongly around to her side. Take, for instance, the brouhaha that erupted because Laura Bush admitted--in response to a question, not something she brought up--that it was possible that some of the criticism of Miers was sexist. What was Bainbridge's response? [1] "Joe Gandelman defends Harriet Miers' critics from Laura Bush's charge that we're all just a bunch of sexist pigs. (I wonder why Laura forgot the elitist talking point.)"

Let's forget the fact that there's serious dispute as to whether the First Lady was trying to just blow off the comment. More importantly, she's right. Look at the transcript:

Lauer: Some are suggesting there�s a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge [sic] Miers.

Laura Bush: That�s possible. I think --

Lauer: How would you feel about that?

Laura Bush: That�s possible. . . .

Now here's a challenge to serious conservatives, that is to say those of us who aren't so busy jerking our knees to have given up on thought: do we really think that none of the criticism of Miers is driven by sexism? That if given such a low threshold as "little possible sexism" you think that our party is completely free of it?

If you do, please take the rose-tinted goggles off and venture out into the bits of the blogosphere you don't frequent. Take a crawl through FreeRepublic.com and tell me you don't find a sexist word there. Just type "Harriet Miers" and "sexist" into Technorati and see what some people are saying. Indeed, note that the question wasn't even limiting itself to conservative criticism. I think there's a good case to be made that Maureen Dowd's recent criticism of Miers was itself sexist (sorry, can't find a non-subscription link), a case most amusingly put by the Bad Hair Blog:

[On Dowd's assertion that accusations of sexism are "silly."] Pardon my ignorance of "silly", but to have the first female nominee in 12 years compared to a movie star's mistress and a presidential bimbo [Monica Lewinsky] . . . . and flat-out state she got the job by "catering to his every need", is sexist.

When Bainbridge and Gerard Bradley want to complain that they are being called sexists due to such broad statements, it can only be because they're including themselves in a "we" that includes every bottom-feeder at the least-moderate (or moderated) bulletin boards and Maureen Dowd. I suppose that's one defense against an accusation of elitism, in which case hand me the port and cigars and consider me without insult.

Me, I'm going to wait for the hearings and read people who are spending less time complaining about the nomination and more time addressing an actual issue: there's not a lot of good information about Miers out there. Certainly lack of information is a fact. Yet even that is one more reason I'm impressed by the pro-Miers authors: people like Beldar have been doing research and actually adding data and perspective. Sure, he's a partisan and you have to take some of his words with a grain of salt. But at least it's more data.

[1]: I hate to pick on Bainbridge here, not only because he's on my side of the aisle but because he's said nice things about me. Nonetheless, he's also one of the most vocal of the anti-Miers voices within my subset of the blogosphere. He's also made it a point to doubt her conservatism, while justifying this with rather poor proxies for conservative belief.

And I have to find a certain amount of amusement in his umbrage at being called elitist. He's a cigar-smoking self-confessed wine snob living in a posh area of LA, a professor who blogs about putting iPods in BMWs. . . . Certainly there's an element of protesting too much here?

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