Friday, October 14, 2005

David Brooks exposes Harriet Miers' shallow rhetoric

David Brooks spent most of his column inches in The New York Times on Thursday letting Harriet Miers speak for herself. He quoted verbal mush from a column she wrote as president of the Texas Bar Association:

"More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."
Or this: "We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism."

Or this: "When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved."

Or passages like this: "An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin."

Or, finally, this: "We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective. Achieving the necessary understanding and appreciation of why the challenge is so important, we can then turn to the task of providing the much needed support."

See (but as of late you have to belong to the club, TimesSelect, to read certain NYT content).

I understand Brooks' misgivings. He wants a conservative with a brain, an intellectual who can marshall an argument, on the Supreme Court. There are plenty to choose from, and Bush picks his personal lawyer who happens to be down the hall. She's never written a law review article, and, from these samples, appears to write meaningless mush.

One of the leading lights of conservative legal thinking is Michael McConnell, son of Mitch McConnell and a 1976 Michigan State graduate. I recall one day in an economics class the professor talking about the determinants of economic growth of a given nation. He said that history showed that given the right inputs -- natural materials, an educated populace, transportation infrastructure, geography -- that nations lagging behind tended to catch up to competing countries.

One student immediately said "Then the Marshall Plan wasn't necessary." This was a logical conclusion, but I don't think anyone else in the room had come up with that thought, including the prof. It was a fairly heretical thing to say about one of the most important examples of American generosity in the 20th century. I'm pretty sure that student was Mike McConnell.

I doubt Harriet Miers would've come up with that notion that day.

The Nobel in Economics went to a professor who studied game theory. For the Democrats the game might be rejoicing in approving a nominee who is just a nice Republican lawyer who will never marshall a strong legal argument.

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