Monday, October 24, 2005

The sorry spectacle of Judith Miller and Harriet Miers

Two women in the middle of two very big messes at the same time -- both the result of their own arrogance: Judith Miller, irascible New York Times reporter and Harriet Miers, woefully inexperienced Supreme Court Justice nominee. Both women find the headlines every day and the stories behind those headlines keep getting worse. And yet neither woman can summon the humility to simply stand up, declare “mea culpa” and walk away -- sparing the rest of us the circus they've both created.

Sunday's New York Times has yet another story by yet another colleague of Miller’s, Byron Calame, “the reader’s representative”, throwing more poisonous darts in an attempt to push her out the door. Coming on the heels of MoDo's missles, it's obvious that there are quite a few of Judy's co-workers who think she deserves to be pushed -- hard.

I suspect we'll see some more of this in days to come as the Gray Lady tries to salvage what little is left of her former reputation. Unfortunately, it will continue to be the kind of spectator sport in which the audience members are tied to their chairs, eyes held open with a speculum ( a la Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange) and forced to watch as the paper repeatedly flogs itself in an act meant to convince people that, this time, it really means it -- it will change.

Note to the Times: we can only take so much of this.

When President Bush announced the nomination of Harriet Miers on October 3, he called her “a leader of unquestioned integrity.” Much of what we’ve learned since then does not support that claim. To review:

- Miers was suspended from the DC bar for nonpayment of dues.

- Miers was suspended from the Texas bar for nonpayment of dues.

- Miers repeatedly had tax liens placed on property she owned in Texas for nonpayment of fines and fees.

- Miers received 10 times the market value for a small piece of land she controlled from the state of Texas, awarded by a panel stacked with friends and allies. A mediator ordered Miers to repay $26,000 but she has failed to do so.

These take on added significant because -- since Miers doesn’t have any judicial experience -- Bush is selling Miers’s nomination to the court, in large part, on her “character.”

Harriet Miers needs to withdraw her name from the nomination process immediately. It’s become obvious that a person so full of herself that she would even consider accepting a nomination for the Supreme Court with her glaring lack of qualifications places herself above what's good for the court and the United States.

It's hard to believe that this administration is concerned about avian influenza when it is a raging case of hubris that seems to be affecting nearly everyone in Washington.

Bush praises Miers' character, but that's only because it reflects his own to a T: grab all you can and screw everybody else.

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