Bush’s Culture of Mediocrity

Originally posted: October 21, 2005

On January 19, 1970, President Richard Nixon nominated G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court. Widely derided as mediocre, Carswell’s nomination was promptly rejected by the United States Senate. During the confirmation process, Nebraska Republican Senator Roman Hruska rose to Carswell’s defense:

“Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises and Cardozos and Frankfurters and stuff like that there.”

George W. Bush appears to agree with this formulation. His nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court represents a growing pattern of mediocrity and cronyism.

Harriet Miers is thoroughly unqualified to serve on the Supreme Court. She has never been a judge, at any level. She has next to no courtroom experience. Her law practice focused on divorces and bankruptcies. Her only writings are vapid columns for the Texas bar association newsletter. She has little experience with Constitutional issues. Her experience as an elected official is limited to a single term on the Dallas city council. She has been White House counsel for a mere eight months. She has been silent on the great legal and political issues of the day

Miers has been vocal, though, on her support for George W. Bush. In 1997 she gushed to then-Governor Bush, “You are the greatest governor ever, deserving of great respect.” Another time, she wrote george w bush.jpgthat she hoped that daughters Barbara and Jenna realized that their parents were “cool.”

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer notes that “there are 1,084,504 lawyers in the United States. What distinguishes Harriet Miers from any of them, other than her connection with the president?”

Clearly, the answer is “nothing.” Harriet Miers is little more than a pleasant, capable lawyer who happens to be pals with the president. She is not Supreme Court material.

There is much evidence that George W. Bush places a premium on loyalty. A recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll found that the American public agrees, 54 to 37 percent, that President Bush values personal loyalty more than competence.

President Bush has recently placed several hacks and cronies in key Administration positions, including:

-Michael Brown: Who can forget the scene of President Bush standing alongside FEMA director Brown outside the ruins of Hurricane Katrina, proclaiming, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job!” The ousted, inept Brown had zero prior experience in disaster management.

-Andrew Maner: The new chief financial officer of the Department of Homeland Security oversees an annual budget of $35 billion. His previous governmental experience? He was a press aide in the first Bush White House.

-Brian Montgomery: He is the new assistant secretary for housing. His prior governmental experience was performing advance work for the Bush 2000 presidential campaign.

-Julie Myers: She is President Bush’s nominee to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. A 36 year-old lawyer, she has zero experience in immigration law or law enforcement. If confirmed, she would have a multi-billion dollar budget, more than 20,000 subordinates, and responsibility for guarding the borders against illegal aliens and drug dealers. Her uncle is Richard Myers, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She recently married the chief of staff to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

-Ellen Sauerbrey: She has been nominated to lead a State Department White House South.jpgoffice dealing with emergency aid to refugees of foreign wars and natural disasters. Previously, she served in the Maryland state legislature, run for governor of Maryland, and ran Bush’s 2000 Maryland campaign. She has zero experience with international relief work.

President Bush seems to be making a habit of picking unqualified individuals for important positions. Of course, what do you expect from a C student?

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