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Senators reject Miers critics
Senate Republicans yesterday dismissed conservative leaders’ adamant opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers.
“This is absurd,” said Sen. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee. “We need to move on to hearings.”
Some senators — especially those viewed as seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2008 — defended the right of conservatives to weigh in on the nomination. But several Republicans said the conservatives are not offering anything constructive.
“It’s awfully hard to be critical of something you know nothing about,” said Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican.
Many conservatives say Miss Miers — President Bush’s White House counsel — lacks a clear and solid record of conservative jurisprudence and could wind up being wooed by the liberal wing of the Supreme Court.
Anger at Mr. Bush from his conservative base has only intensified since the nomination was announced three weeks ago. And yesterday, a group of conservative leaders organized an effort to force the White House to withdraw the nomination, a scenario the White House rejected.
“Enough is enough,” Mr. DeWine said. “If I pick up one more paper and read about one more group that I’ve never heard of saying they’re for Miers or against Miers — it just doesn’t matter at this point.”
Manuel Miranda, who has helped organize much of the opposition to Miss Miers, said this battle will not be forgotten by the Republican base.
“Mike DeWine is going to lose in Ohio, and he should be more aware of grass-roots sentiment,” Mr. Miranda said. “Mike DeWine doesn’t have a great deal of conservative support in Ohio and ham-fisted remarks aren’t going to help with that.”
Democrats continued to remain silent on the nomination, eagerly watching Republican officials openly sparring with their staunchest supporters.
Accordingly, senators eyeing the Republican nomination for president in 2008 weren’t so quick to tell conservatives to pipe down.
“There are people who care a great deal about this particular vacancy on the Supreme Court and they’re expressing their views,” Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said very carefully. “You listen to all people who have a point of view.”
Off Capitol Hill, BetterJustice.com, a new group made up of conservatives, including former Bush White House speechwriter David Frum, planned to begin airing a television advertisement tonight that calls on Mr. Bush to give up on Miss Miers’ nomination.
The wording of the ad is careful to criticize Mr. Bush’s choice of Miss Miers, but not the president himself.
“Even the best leaders make mistakes,” says an unseen female announcer in opening the 30-second TV spot, as still black-and-white pictures of the president appear on the screen.
By Brahma Chellaney
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