Bill Schneider
Signs of a lame duck president?
Fri Oct 7, 2005 20:48

When ambitious members of the president's own party score points against
him, it's a sign the president may be becoming a lame duck.

Signs of a lame duck president?

By Bill Schneider
CNN Political Unit

White House Counsel Harriet Miers is the president's nominee for the Supreme Court.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- When ambitious members of the president's own party score points against him, it's a sign the president may be becoming a lame duck.

It's also the Play of the Week.

Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a leading conservative, may run for president in 2008. You'd think a potential Republican contender would support president Bush down the line.

Think again.

Brownback did not exactly rush to support Harriet Miers, Bush's pick for the Supreme Court.

"We don't know the nominee, or what this person will or won't do. And there's a great deal of frustration with that," he said.

Many conservatives share that frustration. They want assurances -- up front -- that the new justice will move the court to the right.

Brownback is making himself a spokesman for those doubters. That may not hurt him if he decides to run for the Republican nomination.

Because the 60-year-old Miers spent her career in private practice and as a member of Bush's White House staff, conservatives outside the nation's capital have little to hang their hopes on except the president's word that she would be a judge in the mold of Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas.

Doesn't the president's word that Miers is a true conservative count for anything? Well, yes.

"I do think she reflects the president, and I think that's the strongest thing, really, that she has going for her," Brownback said Friday.

But apparently not enough.

"It would be better to -- let's have someone we know the record on," Brownback said.

Other conservatives admonish their colleagues not to leap to conclusions about Miers.

"Just shut up for a few minutes and give the lady a chance to find out who she is," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said.

But conservatives looking for someone to speak for them may turn to Brownback, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He's betting that loyalty to the cause will outweigh loyalty to the president. Could be a good bet. Definitely the Play of the Week.

Brownback voted to confirm John Roberts as chief justice without knowing a lot about his views. But Roberts was not replacing a swing vote on the court.

If confirmed, Miers would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate whose vote has been critical on issues including abortion and affirmative action.

And anyway, Brownback said, ``John Roberts is a rock star,'' while Harriet Miers is ``following Elvis.''


Harriet E. Miers Profile
President Bush nominated White House Counsel Harriet Ellan Miers on Monday, Oct. 3, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice ..



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