A comparison with no basis in reality

A COMPARISON WITH NO BASIS IN REALITY…. Last year, when President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, a handful of conservative activists described her as “Obama’s Harriet Miers.” It wasn’t entirely clear why, and the comparison quickly faded.

This morning, we’re seeing it again.

RedState: “Will this be President Obama’s Harriet Miers Moment?” In a blog post, RedState’s Brian Darling wrote: “The March 2009 debate is a preview to the public debate that will be going on over the next few weeks from coast to coast…. Will this be President Obama’s Harriet Miers Moment?” […]

Big Government post on Kagan invokes Miers. The conservative blog BigGovernment.com stated: “Today, President Obama is expected to announce the nomination of Harriet Myers [sic] Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. [….]

Campos: “The Next Harriet Miers?” In a Daily Beast column prior to reports of Kagan’s nomination, University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos wrote that “somebody needs to ask a rather impolitic question: How, precisely, is Kagan’s prospective nomination different from George W. Bush’s ill-fated attempt to put Harriet Miers on the nation’s highest court?”

This is all pretty silly.

Whether one thinks Elena Kagan is a wise choice or not, it’s hard to ignore the fact that she’s a brilliant, accomplished attorney. Even conservatives tend to respect her as a gifted, skillful legal mind. Kagan’s background, despite not having been a judge, is pretty impressive: Supreme Court clerk, White House domestic policy aide, dean of the Harvard Law School, Solicitor General of the United States. Not too shabby.

Harrier Miers, meanwhile, helped manage a law firm in Texas, and worked as the head of local bar associations that the state’s top lawyers didn’t join. She then worked for George W. Bush — writing him charming notes, telling him he’s “the best governor ever,” who is “cool” and “the greatest” — and he made her White House counsel before inexplicably concluding Miers was the single best lawyer in the United States for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Miers proceeded to offer responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire with glaring errors that first-year law school students would generally avoid.

Now, I’ve seen some suggestions that liberals consider the political dynamic similar to the Miers nomination — that is, the president’s own party telling the White House that the chosen high court nominee just isn’t satisfactory — but that’s a separate matter altogether.

Comparing the qualifications of these two nominees is hard to take seriously.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.