POPULIST vs. ELITIST….This is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re interested in a political science-y analysis of why Harriet Miers has provoked such a thoroughgoing public split in the conservative movement, Steven Teles provides one today over at Mark Kleiman’s place:

Today each party has two wings ? an electoral wing, which tends to be more populist and rests on a larger mobilized base, and a non-electoral wing, which tends to be elitist and defines itself more by intellectual principles. Each of these wings has substantial coordination within itself, and some degree of “coupling” to the other wing.

Thus back to Miers. What this conflict is really driven by is the temporary “decoupling” of the electoral and the non-electoral wings of the Republican party….

I still suspect that “temporary” is the right word to use here. I admit that the hostility toward the Miers nomination has already been deeper and longer lasting than I thought it would be, but at the same time it seems to have had only a minimal effect on the senators who will actually decide her future. Unless she blows it badly in her confirmation hearing ? which she might ? I think she’ll be confirmed.

Still, regardless of her personal fate, the Miers nomination has also been a crystallizing event. Even if she ends up getting confirmed, the dam has now been broken on conservative complaints about George Bush that have been kept under tight wrap for four years. If Patrick Fitzgerald hands down serious indictments in the Valerie Plame case soon, the true believers will take it merely as confirmation that there’s a vast conspiracy out to get them, but everyone else will start jumping ship. It won’t be pretty.

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