So, what's the conservative rage about Miers all about?
Not being a conservative myself (I just play one on TV every now and then), I'd initially been surprised by the degree to which conservatives are angry at Bush for the Miers nomination.
But I guess I shouldn't be. When I really think about it, it seems that conservatives are so exceptionally angry because they wanted (and fully expected) him to give them exactly what they've been waiting for all these years, and haven't gotten from him yet in the Supreme Court Justice department--a fire-breathing ultra-conservative with a track record a mile long to make it all crystal clear.
If Bush had done so, it would have started a bitter battle. But I think a certain number of conservatives actually wanted a divisive and vicious battle--they were positively aching for it. I don't know why--to rub it into liberal faces, perhaps. So Bush deprived them of the candidate--and for some of them, of the battle--they had every reason to believe was coming their way. Now the full force of the anger that was building for that fight, fueled by their frustrated hope, is turned on him.
I think conservatives are also especially embarrassed at the cronyism aspect, because, after all, that argument against the appointment holds some water. It really does give at least the appearance of a problem, and it taps into some of the harshest criticisms that have long been leveled against Bush.
So, many conservatives (such as commenter "strcpy" here) are angry and stunned that Bush pulled the rug out from under them, as it were, and he did it in a way that has allowed liberals to say to conservatives, "See, I told you so!".
Here's strcpy to explain in his/her own words:
Basically I've spent a lot of time defending (and rightfully so IMO) Bush against a lot of charges from the left. Quite a bit of the cronyism, and then....this. It may not really be cronyism - maybe he knows her well enough to *know* she will do a good job, but surely there are others that he does also. Then he asks for blind trust. While I do not "not trust" him, I don't particularly trust him either (part of him being a politician - I trust him has far as I do any politician and think he is better than nearly all at a national level). It basically kills years of arguing - I can't point at someone and say "stupid" because cronyism is more likely than not in this case and your thought basically boil down to how much you trust him (along with the "I've been telling you for years, your an idiot"). Ultimately he lost years of political arguing with this giving his opponents something to bash him on that can't be refuted - after all if I'm "wrong" on that then it goes that I am on the rest.
What was Bush thinking? My belief is that Bush chose Miers because he thought she would be acceptable enough to the Democrats to be confirmed without a bitter fight (which he, at least, wanted to avoid) but conservative enough to actually perform as all conservatives want. By saying "trust me" he actually means "Look folks, I know her; she'll be every bit as conservative as you could wish, but she'll appear blank enough to the opposition to get through the confirmation process without a total war." But the words "trust me" sound condescending and arrogant--particularly when his base has just received what they think of as a betrayal--with the added drawback that arrogance is a charge to which Bush is especially susceptible.
To answer a question posed here by commenter "holmes," I do think the confirmation process can answer some questions about what sort of justice Miers will make. It can tell us a lot about her in terms of intelligence, verbal agility, quickness, integrity, courage, forthrightness--all of which are things that are relevant to being a justice. The clerks do a lot of the research, after all; a justice has to be able to think.
But my guess is that holmes' question taps into what so many conservatives are fearing--which is that hearings can't tell us how she will actually vote on the hot issues of the day if she ends up a member of the Court. Will she be firmly in the conservative camp? Or will she--like the woman she is replacing, Sandra Day O'Connor--be a conservative hope dashed, a swing voter whose only predictability is that her vote tends to balance the court and keep it from veering too strongly to one side or another? I don't know the answer--and, as a centrist, of course it doesn't bother me as it would a true conservative.
How blank a slate is Miers? The answer appears--at least so far--to be: pretty blank indeed. It turns out that not even most of her friends and colleagues know her actual opinions, although they speak highly of her. To me, this means either that she really is opinionless (which would be odd and rather offputting, a sort of Chauncy Gardner of the legal profession)--or that she is circumspect and private, which I don't mind at all.
Perhaps, in fact, Miers will turn out to be what all the conservatives say they want: a strict constructionist, who merely interprets the Constitution and keeps her own opinions out of it as much as humanly possible. Wouldn't that be novel?
[For my previous post on the Miers nomination, see here.]