- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2005

To the excitement of all Washington, the hullabaloo over President George W. Bush’s nomination of Harriet E. (and you can be sure the Senate Judiciary Committee will get to the bottom of this mysterious “E.” in due course) Miers builds, picking up wails and execrations daily. What makes the excitement so irresistible is that conservatives have joined liberals in fuming over the judicial nominee. Well, as philosopher Samuel Goldwyn was wont to say, “include me out.”

This hullabaloo is but another piece of evidence in support of my longheld view that the greatest unsung force in history is boredom. Yes, the rise and fall of nations, the comings and goings of eminences and fads, can be attributed to the seven deadly sins, to mere chance, or to a potentate dallying too long over lunch. But more often than historians would have us know mere boredom has been the yeast for great events. At some point in every president’s life, especially as his presidency ages, he finds himself in a sticky wicket because the politically engaged have become bored.

I do not mean to say there are not potential high court nominees more qualified than Miss Miers. Moreover, for two decades the conservative movement has developed a community of fine legal minds ready and able to do as well against the haranguers of the Senate Judiciary Committee as the suddenly exalted Chief Justice John Roberts. One need look no farther than the Federalist Society. Yet the intensity of this row has grown out of all proportion to the Bush oversights.

Consider this from an overheated “news story” in the New York Times : ” ‘Everybody is hoping that something will happen on Miers, either that the president would withdraw her or she would realize she is not up to it and pull out while she has some dignity intact,’ a lawyer to a Republican committee member said.” Most likely this will never happen, and most likely only a handful of shortsighted Republicans would wish i.

The criteria for a Supreme Court nominee have historically been: (A) proven facility with the law and (B) personal integrity. That is the argument most conservatives have made ever since liberals politicized the selection process starting with Judge Robert Bork. Surely Miss Miers has shown facility with the law and if she lacks integrity it will be revealed very soon.

We have all argued a justice’s personal beliefs are not relevant. All a justice does is apply the law — as written by legislators — to each case under consideration. Justice Roberts returned to this truth repeatedly during his torture before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If Miss Miers is capable, she will hold to this fundamental truth and be nominated.

Were the Republicans to overthrow the principles they solemnly defended during the Roberts hearing and sink Miss Miers’ nomination, the result would be anarchy in subsequent Senate hearings and a messy victory for partisan Democrats.

Republicans have claimed the principle that, barring maleficent revelations, a president should be granted his nominee for the federal judiciary. If they join Democrats in contradicting their own sensible principle and thwarting the president, partisan Democrats would be justified in voting down any future conservative nominee. That would mean raising to the Supreme Court only nominees of their choice or, as I say, anarchy.

On the face of it, none of this will happen. Conservatives have every right to be disappointed the president did not nominate a seasoned conservative of superlative intellect. But they will not throw the nominating process into chaos or rather into the control of primitive partisans such as Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Washington’s yearning for excitement actuates this hullabaloo. It also actuates the press’ incessant coverage of it. This town is easily bored, and boredom often sets in motion some of history’s most frivolous events.

Think back. Was it not general boredom that accounted for the election of Bill Clinton over the perfectly normal President George H.W. Bush?

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His most recent book is “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.”


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