Was Harriet Miers a Smoke Screen?

I’ll preface this debate by admitting that I used to think that Pres Bush was the dumbest man on Earth. But then I watched a documentary that proposed just the opposite–that ol’Dubya is a carefully constructed act, with each “blunder” precisely planned. Since then I’ve been looking at each subsequent screw up with that concept in mind.

So today Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination for the Supreme Court. And its painfully obvious that despite four 24 hour news channels, only one story can ever get covered–today its Harriet Miers with a few shots of the President touring Florida running in the background.

So there are currently a variety of active threads on this topic, each alluding to the fact that this seems like a massive screw up by the Bush Administration–but what if it wasn’t?

Without the Miers story, what would the cable news giants be discussing?


There could have been indictments handed out today, and if there had been, the news networks would have been screwed since they were already set to spend the entire 24 hour cycle discussing Miers. It is for that reason that I believe she was set up to fail. Pres. Bush picked someone that almost seems like a good choice, let’s her reputation get tossed around a bit, and in a glorious display has her pull out.

Unfortunately this seemed to have failed since there weren’t any indictments. My guess now is that some time in the next 14 hours the terror alert level with go up.

On a related note, I’m pretty sure former FEMA chief Brown was set up to fail as well.

Anyone care to disagree? Or does this just fall in to conspiracy theory territory?

What do you think the news stories will be about tomorrow: “Plamegate” or “Miersgate”? I think that answers your question.

Miers’ withdrawl is a one-day news event, unless we have a string of slow news days. Given the long anticipated results of Fitzgerald’s investigation should be available tomorrow, I suspect it won’t be a “slow news day”.

Bush is smarter than people give him credit for, but you can’t orchestrate the kind of event you are implying. Bush is famous for rewarding loyalty above all else. That explains Brown, not some “ace in the hole” guy he can jetison to distract the new media.

Following on, if Bush used such feint tactics in order to get his nominees approved, why stop there? He could use the same subterfuge to, say, get us into a war …

Ah, just a sec. Isn’t that the basis for the CIA leak investigation?

“Bush nominates ______________ as Supreme Court Justice”

Still, while I do think the timing of Miers’ withdrawl and her subsequent replacement is partially motivated by a desire to get the public’s attention off Treasongate, I doubt it’ll work for long. The strong public sentiment against the Iraq war means that people are (finally) paying close attention to how we got into this mess in the first place.

It’s not a smokescreen, and this is not sane.

As I commented in another thread, this habit bothers me more every day. Karl Rove is very good at what he does, but some Democrats have him way too far inside their heads. Look at what just happened here: Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, a trusted advisor, flamed out because conservatives wouldn’t support her even after James Dobson practically promised she is evangelical and pro-life. Right-wingers didn’t support her, and it’s important to note that they were mad at Bush for nominating her. How does that help him? He annoyed his strongest supporters.

Some people are apparently so defeated that even when things go well, they expect it’s just part of a brilliant Rove plot to humiliate them. emacknight, you sound like a Red Sox fan. They really did bungle this. There were rumors that Rove was kept in the dark about this nomination. True or false, it’s been pretty clear for a while that Miers was going to fail. They did their best to cushion her fall by talking about executive privilege, but this was a bad move from the start. (rjung’s theory that she withdrew today deliberately… eh. Maybe. It won’t matter.) I also noted in that thread that yesterday’s big story was the 2000th death in Iraq. Today it’s Miers, and tomorrow it’ll be the indictments. You do not hide your screwups with more screwups! Does that sound like genius strategy to you? “I crashed the car, so to distract mom and dad, I’m gonna burn the house down!”

Plamegate has not been pushed to the back pages. Yesterday, news networks were interrupting broadcasts to announce that nothing was happening in that case. The #2 story at the New York Times site is “Leak Counsel Holds Back for Another Day.” Tomorrow, Rove may be indicted by Fitzgerald, and I half expect someone to ask if this is part of Rove’s plan. If Rove were hanged for treason, I think some would wonder “What’s his angle?” Michael Brown was a fall guy, sure, but this is like asking “Did Rove tell Bush to withhold aid from New Orleans to make people forget about Plame and Iraq?”

I doubt it. Next week.

Once again let me caution someone on the left from getting his hopes up too high. “Plamegate” is not going to be a proxy for :how we got into this mess in the first place", especially if the left keeps yelling “treason”. People will generaly support the war or not support it based on how things are going in Iraq, not on what happens inside the beltway to non-elected advisers.

If Bush were smart, he’d start announcing troop withdrawls. Then we’d see support for the war go back up.

IMO, no way it is a smokescreen.
First, the real story these days is that the invincible Bush Administration is falling apart. Plamegate and Miers both build on this story.
Second, for all Bush’s faults, he is loyal to his friends. Too damn loyal. I don’t see him throwing Harriet to the wolves like this.
Third, this gives the democrats perfect cover to use the nuclear option. They did not strongly oppose Roberts, and they seem to be blaming Miers’ problems on the right. It is going to be much harder for the right wing to call them obstructionist when the right just obstructed a nomination. The universally acclaimed Fed Chairman nomination will help too.
The Brown situation was a reversion to putting political hacks in FEMA, which Clinton stopped. (He put in a buddy, but a competent one.) No one would have cared except for Katrina.

My guess at the root cause of this is that Rove is too preoccupied with being indicted. It’s hard to believe he’d have let Bush do a dumb-ass thing like nominating Miers right after the Brown mess if he gave his full attention to the job. If he has to resign, I predict this mess will look good.

The alternative explanation - Bush has decided that if he is president, he should make the decisions.

I recently read an article that claimed that the Terri Schiavo and Social Security fiascos which appeared to be major blows to the Bush administration were actually masterpieces of political control. The idea was that the adminsitration wanted to pass eight major pieces of legislation and realized they would provoke some controversy. So they added in two new issues they were mostly unconcerned about - euthanasia and Social Security reform - and took up controversial positions. The Democrats seized upon these controversial issues and apparently ripped up the administration. But while they were focusing on these easy targets, the other eight items were quietly enacted with no publicity.

So the Bush administration got eight items it wanted enacted passed. It lost two items it wasn’t concerned about but was able to get some cover on them by blaming the Democrats for being obstructionist. And the only possible damage was a non-issue - Bush doesn’t have to worry about any future elections.

The problem with that hypothesis is that it’s just too neat-- it explains every success as masterful planning and every failure as… masterful planning. Frankly, sometimes people just fuck up, and Meirs was a fuck-up.

Exactly. Nobody is that brilliant.

Voyager --I had thought that as well. What happens when the handled decides that he wants to handle himself? I think W said, I want her–and maybe (but this is reaching now) Rove et al wanted to show him just how much he needs handling…so they let him name Miers and let him take the heat for it. So now they can say, Look, Mr. President, look what happened with Miers, in future.

It’s a theory–not saying it’s the world’s most plausible one.

Personally, I think we’ll see the terror allert level raised. Another unspecified bomb scare in a tunnel, maybe the Goldgate Bridge will get closed for an hour or so. Wait, correction, it can’t be something that happens on the Westcoast because then it misses the news cycle.

To clarify my position a bit: I think Harriet Miers was a really stupid choice for SCOTUS, but that’s irrelevent. I’m pretty sure the same clammering would have happened to anyone Bush picked. I’m also didn’t mean to suggest that she was nominated souly to quit when the Plamegate/Treasongate got big. But I’ve convinced myself that that at the very least her choice to withdraw was timed pretty carefully. Although in this case the indictments didn’t get released yet, so they gambled and lost.

At the very least, say what you will about the Bush Administration, but the one thing they’ve gotten right over the past 5 years is complete control over the news sheep, I mean media. Such that even when they fall they spin allllll the way down.

I don’t think the whole nomination was a smokescreen. If Bush had gone on tv and said he found a pistol with Bill Clinton’s fingerprints on it which was used in the Vince Foster death and a love note to Hillary, sure, that would have been a smokescreen.

I do think at times we have gotten so accustomed to thinking that Rove masterminds all. But, I agree, covering up indicted administration officials with a failed Supreme Court nominee doesn’t make sense. Reagan didn’t use Douglas Ginsburg or Robert Bork as a smokescreen for Iran-Contra.

No gambling. We knew yesterday that the indictments wouldn’t be handed out until Friday. THere was no need to withdaw her nomination today.

If that doesn’t happen, will you re-evaluate your whole premise?

The OP is not the only person wondering if this was a dog well wagged. I’m not particularly impressed or convinced by the arguements in this article.


“I think so, Brain, but if we give peas a chance, won’t the lima beans feel left out?”


Everybody knew yesterday that the indictments weren’t coming out today. It wouldn’t have been a gamble, it would have been a screwup in someone’s date planner. :wink:

Sadly, nobody told me that. I just found that out about an hour after starting this.

Of course, but I should warn you that the second rule of conspiracy theories is that EVERYTHING backs them up…

While we’re wagering, will your premise change if something does happen?

Isn’t it the case that the Right turned on Myers because she provided inadequate answers to their questions? If so, then surely her failure is hers alone? As someone semi-outside the legal system, she was IMHO an interesting and intelligent choice - I’ve previously pondered about having a Professor of Law or similar appointed - but she failed politically, a prime danger for that class of appointee. Others have educated me that in America, many judges are elected, so perhaps she simply lacked the electoral nous and relied too much on Bush’s coat-tails?

We’re not wagering, but if you’d like to, I’ve been known to place a bet here and there… :slight_smile:

No, I wouldn’t change my premise unless it was so blatantly obvious that it was a ploy. There actually is such a thing as a simply coincidence.