Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Are the nominee's critics sexist? Get serious:

Dr. James Dobson, who got a special early briefing from Karl Rove on the pick, has confirmed what we already knew: The White House limited the field of potential choices to women. In ordinary English, that is called a quota. This admission of truth, which Bush's father never made about Clarence Thomas, makes it hard for the president to rebut criticism that Miers is not the most qualified person for the job. We know for a fact that half of humanity—and a good deal more than half of the federal bench—was deemed ineligible to be chosen at the outset. I thought conservatives like the president believed that women could withstand open competition? Instead, Bush has subjected Miers to what he calls the soft bigotry of low expectations.
The president, who knows Miers so well and who has so often boasted about how tough she is, could offer some help here. Bush needs to rustle up one lean anecdote about her leadership, judicial philosophy, or some instance where she lived up to the image he's pushed. Instead, he repeats her résumé and slightly patronizes her. Bush has always had trouble getting the gender thing right with Miers. When he promotes her, he's always patting her on the back in a way that undermines the case he's making. "She looks so petite and, well, harmless. But put her on your case," Bush said once before introducing her to a lunch crowd, "and she becomes a pit bull in size 6 shoes." Another time he boasted, "When it comes to a cross-examination, she can fillet better than Mrs. Paul." When you protest that much in public, it reinforces the underlying stereotype that Miers needs a lift.