- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2005

Conservative leaders who helped force the withdrawal of Harriet Miers said yesterday that President Bush must now appoint someone whose judicial philosophy matches that of the two most conservative justices on the Supreme Court — and said they would accept nothing less.

“We want Bush to fulfill his campaign commitment to give us a nominee like Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas,” said Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly. “Conservatives have this old-fashioned notion that candidates should fulfill the promises they made once they get elected.”

Other leaders on the right made similar appeals to Mr. Bush and mentioned a number of candidates they would accept — and agreed that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales would definitely not be acceptable.

“All Bush needs to do to make things worse is to float the name of Alberto Gonzales,” said American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene. Mr. Gonzales was White House counsel until Mr. Bush appointed him as attorney general and named Miss Miers to replace him as counsel.

Mr. Gonzales is viewed skeptically by conservatives because of his statements on issues such as abortion and gun control.

The Miers battle, meanwhile, has left scars on the Bush coalition, with some conservatives saying that Mr. Bush hoodwinked evangelical Christian leaders including James Dobson and Richard Land into supporting Miss Miers.

“Certainly, a segment of the pro-family movement led by Dobson and Land succumbed to the schmoozing of [White House chief political strategist Karl] Rove,” Mrs. Schlafly said, “but the White House obviously didn’t tell them the truth, that she is a feminist. Instead, the White House assured them Miers would vote pro-life.”

Yesterday, Mr. Dobson called Miss Miers’ withdrawal “a wise decision” and cited news reports of a speech in which Miss Miers defended abortion rights as “self-determination.”

“In recent days I have grown increasingly concerned about her conservative credentials, and I was dismayed to learn this week about her speech in 1993, in which she sounded pro-abortion themes and expressed so much praise for left-wing feminist leaders.”

But Mr. Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, yesterday blamed conservative critics for undermining Miss Miers’ nomination, calling her “yet one more victim of a process that has gone seriously awry in the past two decades.”

“Until … this nomination atmosphere is corrected, the country will be deprived of the services of many gifted and able people who refuse to put themselves and their families through this kind of ordeal,” Mr. Land said. “President Bush and his nominee, Harriet Miers, deserved better treatment than they received.”

But Georgia pro-family activist Carolyn Meadows said the Miers nomination had undermined confidence in Mr. Bush among conservatives.

“Before she withdrew, everywhere I went here, in my circle, people were saying that because of Miers they don’t trust the president anymore — that maybe she is a stealth candidate but that is not what we were asking for,” Mrs. Meadows said.

Naming a strong alternative to Miss Miers is the best way to undo the damage, she said.

“I think it makes the president look strong if he makes a bad choice and then decides to undo it and if he will now do it right,” Mrs. Meadows said.

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