By Sarah Carlson, Arts Editor
I Am The Enemy
President George W. Bush must not have paid attention to Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part II when the don discusses words of wisdom his father, Vito, had passed down to him: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
Bush has, in fact, done quite the opposite during his reign, preferring to hire and promote those closest to him to roles they’re generally not qualified for.
The nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court continues this trend, as Miers has no experience as a judge and has been the personal attorney for Bush for the past decade. While many Supreme Court justices, including Justices William O. Douglas, Earl Warren and William H. Rehnquist, rose to their roles without any previous experience as judges, little is known of Miers, and members of both parties are left scratching their heads and wondering what her opinions on anything are.
Conservatives wanted a conservative candidate with clear opinions; liberals wanted a more moderate judge to replace the swing vote seat of the exiting Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
After receiving much criticism for his appointment, Bush defended his nominee, saying Miers is the best-qualified candiate for the Supreme Court.
“I’ve known her long enough to know she’s not going to change, that 20 years from now she will be the same person with the same judicial philosophy she has today,” Bush said on Oct. 4. “She’ll have more experience. She’ll have been a judge, but nevertheless the philosophy won’t change, and that’s important to me.”
If, in 20 years, I have the same opinions as I do now, my life experiences and education will have meant nothing. But a steadfast judge is what Bush wants, one who won’t stray from his own ideology, even long after he’s gone.
Bush might have thought he was making a clever choice to avoid a tough confirmation process but in actuality, the nomination of Miers risks appearing as a sign of weakness from a president rapidly approaching the label of lame duck-one who’s unable to accomplish his agenda throughout the remainder of his term in office. Unwilling to pick a fight with an appointee who strongly leans a certain way, Bush chose a seemingly safe route but one that will cost him.
Cronyism, showing favor to old friends or family, is nothing new to the realm of politics, with presidents from John F. Kennedy to Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton all showing favor to their buddies or relatives at one point. However, Bush’s placement of friends in key governmental spots has only revealed his administration’s plan from day one to shape the bureaucracy into the like-minded juggernaut it is today.
Miers’s appointment only reiterates the growing trend of Bush’s friends finding themselves in high places.
The recent chaos of Hurricane Katrina and the fumbled recovery measures led by Bush appointee Michael “Brownie” Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, brought Bush’s cronyism to the forefront of Americans’ minds, as we watched footage of the destruction and the helpless in New Orleans. Brown, as it turns out, had more experience in Arabian horse sporting than in heading up a governmental agency devoted to emergency relief. He resigned after a storm of criticisms of slow government response to aid Hurricane victims.
Whether Miers’ has such skeletons is unknown, she may have a past void of such fumbling. Her credentials as president of the State Bar of Texas, the first female president of a large Texas law firm and a senior White House official are impressive, but are in no away above the resume items of other potential nominees. Chief Justice John Roberts sailed through his confirmation with the help of his intelligence and a natural disaster to divert everyone’s attention.
Miers will not be as lucky, nor should she be. If Bush insists on appointing and promoting those he likes the best instead of those who deserve it, the American public and Congress should do everything they can to make sure Bush’s cronies indeed deserve the recognition.