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All about Harriet

October 04, 2005|MICHAEL NEWMAN

IT'S HARD TO have an opinion on a subject you know very little about. It is not impossible, however, and this morning editorial writers rise to the occasion with President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers.

The first step is to admit ignorance. For the Wall Street Journal, "the nominee is mostly a Texas mystery." The New York Times worries that Miers' record "is so thin that no one seems to have any idea of what she believes." The Washington Post observes that her "views and approach to the law are largely unknown." The Boston Globe says she's "close to a blank slate."

Step 2 is to brush aside this minor technicality and, well, editorialize. For some, the bottom line comes more easily -- and more quickly -- than for others. The Globe, for example, unhesitatingly declares Miers "one of the least qualified nominees for the Supreme Court in many decades." On the other end of the political spectrum, the Journal notes that because the president's "appellate nominees have been uniformly solid, and often distinguished," he "deserves some deference" on his choice of Miers. The Times and the Post, not ready to pass judgment on Miers and less inclined to trust the president, are left with the boring-but-responsible position that the Senate needs to "learn a lot more about her" (Times) and "satisfy itself" (Post) that she is qualified.

Still, even when their chosen subject does not lend itself to a strong opinion, editorial writers can always hold forth on something else. The Journal is almost wistful that Miers' nomination is unlikely to provoke a fight, while the Post is relieved. And the Times, in a gloomy mood, laments that "these days, the nation seems to be setting the bar for almost everything pretty low."

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MICHAEL NEWMAN

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