Lots of chatter on the usual sites right now about how poor of a choice Harriet Miers is for the O'Connor seat on the Supreme Court. My reading preferences skew to the right, so the complaints I've seen mainly fall into two categories: that the president is letting down his base my nominating someone without solid conservative credentials, or that the president is resorting to cronyism.

The first complaint is only partly true. This president has been solidly supported by a social conservative base through two elections. He's had the support of fiscal conservatives as well, but it's been a long time since he's had any credibility on that score. The MSM has derided him for tax cuts, and the fiscal conservatives among us have grudgingly accepted the big government proposals (like Medicare prescription drug benefits) because they tended to be accompanied by (hollow) promises of Social Security reform.

Though he's been supported by the conservative base, it hasn't been because he's been a small-government conservative. He hasn't been about making government smaller or more responsible. He hasn't needed to be. The only thing he needed to do was be more conservative than Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Not a difficult task. And after 9/11, the people who were hawkish on the war on terror tended to be people who are more socially and fiscally conservative. So by projecting a stronger image on Iraq, the president was able to secure the enduring benefit of the doubt from conservatives. Enduring, but not without end: there are a number of things we've learned to dislike about this administration, such as the nonexistent priority level of border security, the aforementioned complete and total abandonment of Social Security reform, and the lack of will to use the veto.

As to the cronyism charge, that has two different sources that I see. From the Left, they're searching for a new way to undercut the nominee. Their last attempt (complain that he didn't have enough of a public record to ensure he was "qualified") failed miserably, in that it resulted in John G. Roberts being sworn in as Chief Justice, and a number of senior senators looking like the partisan hacks they are - and amateurs to boot. So they've decided instead to take a different tack. This time, rather than bemoan the nominee's limited public record (in this case no judicial experience), they have chosen to attack the president by suggesting that the choice is inappropriate since he has a history of working with the nominee.

At the same time, the right-leaning pundit community is also crying cronyism. This President has a well-known preference for appointing people he feels comfortable with. He has the right and the responsibility to do that (and we all have the right to wish he'd picked someone else).

That said, maybe the guys who looked so incompetent during Roberts's hearing were right about one thing, with regard to the wrong nominee: we don't know enough about this person.

As of today, there's a roundup of the latest at Blogometer

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