Friday, October 21, 2005

The Harriet Miers Dream Job, after more reflection

Harriet Miers has a history of achievement.

Look at the history to see what she is good at doing, and how she uses her ability.

From her history, her questionnaire answers, reading about her cases and her reported interview failures on Capital Hill, we can see the pattern.

She appeared to be a fine lawyer. A big time trial lawyer.

But she is not, and was not, a great lawyer. She was not a big time trial lawyer.

She had barely any trial history, barely any appellate lawyer history, and barely any success in those settings.

What does that tell us? She is a wonderful salesman. Although she was not much of a lawyer, she convinced people that she was a fine lawyer.

What did she do at her law firm? She was a rainmaker. She was a salesman. She brought clients in the door. Others did the legal work. She was a gladhander.

What does a law firm do with a lawyer like that? One option is to give them a big title and a big office, with tasks that are suited to their ability. And tasks that keep them out of the way while the lawyers practice law.

Miers was head of the firm.

What did she do? She represented the firm in the legal social world. She went to ABA meetings and was an ABA activist. She went to DBA meetings and was a DBA activist. She went to SBOT meetings and was an SBOT activist. She spoke to people in person, and on the telephone. She wrote letters and birthday cards. She was a well wisher, wishing people well. She was a superb politician in bar activities. She moved up the ranks.

She was the contact person for clients, organizations, and causes. Causes that were not controversial, that is.

She never said a bad word about anyone. She avoided controversy in all areas.

She should do what she does well and likes.

She should not take a job that requires reading, writing, researching, and thinking, away from the public.

She should not be on the Supreme Court, which is a classic mismatch for her talents.

She should be head of the Bush Presidential Library, based at SMU, with minor branches at Baylor, the University of Dallas, and Midland College.

That is the job that fits her like a glove.

Fundraiser, gladhander, head of the organization.

Based in Dallas, but traveling the world as needed, and as desired.

Hanging out with the important people who are important in her world.

Avoiding the people who are important in the very different world of the Supreme Court.

Going with the Bushes to Rangers games, not going with Justice Souter to Nationals games.

And for her, probably the dream job, and far better than being on the Supreme Court.


Blogger Wanda said...

I see now that your first comment on this subject wasn't a sneer; you're right, this is exactly the sort of thing Miers would be very good at and would enjoy. By this point, I question if she really WANTS to get on the Supreme Court after all. But, like many who are convinced that the President is the smartest man in the world, she's probably incapable of telling him that he's wrong in this case, or facing the prospect of disappointing him by insisting that she withdraw her name. I really think it's up to the President to face facts and retreat from this untenable position. If he really likes her as much as he says, he should do it for her sake, at least.

4:15 AM  
Blogger TheAbsentMindedOne said...

I think Miers is very ambitious. But, her ambition was focused. She sought to be president. President of organizations. Bar politics. What she seldom seemed drawn to was the substance of law or politics. My take is that she went along with the group, the organization, the man in her life, and the politically correct approach.

What unpopular cause did she advocate? I know of none that was unpopular with her group.

Abortion? In Dallas her view was politically correct.

Feminism? No suit against the establishment, yet some feminists like her. A feminist lecture series at SMU? Sure, that works at a university. It was not at her church, was it? Not a chance.

She likes to lead without controversy and without substance.

She does not fit the court. But, does she know it? I do not know. Supreme Court justice? Cool! Has she really had time to think about it? Not really. The behind her back vetting must have made it hard to say no. But maybe she always wanted the job.

Some have said she should go to a Court of Appeals. No. She is neither suited nor qualified. When I pondered that I thought about her chambers at the Bush Library, which I expect to be at SMU. Cool! But the wrong job.

No, let her be the big shot at the library. Acting important, but with no serious responsibilities. Fund raising. War stories. President. Her thing. And we can pretend it is a big deal, just like she pretends her past jobs were really a big deal.

I do think, if she had been allowed to choose, she might have chosen the Library job.

And Laura might have agreed.

So George might have been able to agree.

Consider this:

Which candidates for the Supreme Court might have preferred, and been better at, the job of President of the Bush Presidential Library?

Would you select such a person for the court?

Re: Sneer. It is hard for me to discuss Miers and know where the line is. The truth and sneering are pretty much the same. I mean that. I am not being snide. It is hard to write about her bluntly without being construed as rude.

As more information becomes publicly known, and better known, some of my first posts may be see as moderate, and perhaps even kind, by readers who first thought them over the top. It is probably fair to say I have understated the problems of the Miers nomination.
The Miers supporters who have engaged in attacks on the character of her critics have done her, and her hope of being a justice, a disservice. It is the head in the sand approach. Miers was set up for disaster in her hearings from the beginning. Those who attacked the conservative critics in an attempt to avoid discussion of topics like negligent misrepresentation merely contributed to the ambush by promoting negligence by the Miers campaign. Such foolishness! The facts are too juicy. They still have not come out. That is astonishing, because so much was available on the internet for years, and more is available on Nexis. An hour was more than enough time for research.

Has anyone considered why Locke paid two huge settlements? Might the facts and the law be factors?

Yet, the facts have not been discussed.

The law has been missed.

Professor Bainbridge thought it was a securities case.

A recent media report called it malpractice.

Different legal concepts.

Both wrong.

It was a tort.

It was not a suit by a client.

It was suits by victims of Ponzi schemes.

A suit based on representations of the law firm.

And the facts are juicy. Really juicy.

Is the traditional media so inept they have not been to Brady?

Are they holding the story?

Imagine bad facts.

It is worse than you imagine.

Miers likes John Grisham novels. Is truth more entertaining than fiction? It might be.

The Democrats who want to hurt Bush want the hearings. They will get a kick out of them. Their base will love them.

Miers and Bush will be badly damaged.

If the Republicans, Miers, and Bush allow that to happen, it is hard to feel sorry for them.

It is like the people who stand on the beach, watching a Category 4 hurricane come over them.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Wanda said...

I maybe should have chosen a better word than 'sneer'. I only meant that your first mention of the Library idea was almost in the nature of a Jay Leno-like one-liner, so I took it as a bit of a joke. Your more detailed outline made it sound much more plausible. I mean, heading up such a library is a job, after all, and if you're going to have such a position it's worthwhile getting someone who can do it well. It's no more an insult to say that Miers would be well-suited to the job of titular head of a sort of Bush Historical Foundation than it would be to say that someone like Robert Bork would be totally UNsuited to it. A diplomat might say that Miers' particular talents would be thrown away on the Supreme Court; as you say, she's good at schmoozing and smoothing things over with important people - these may not be talents that we take too seriously when we're considering a Supreme Court judge, but they are useful in their place. I have no idea who should take the most blame for this mad idea of trying to cram her into a role she isn't suited for. I always had thought that President Bush was supposed to be a canny judge of character, but this doesn't do him much credit. And it's quite possible that Miers doesn't know herself well enough to realize that she doesn't have what it takes to sit on the Supreme Court.

7:10 PM  

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