Saturday, September 29, 2007
Stephen Griffin defends Jeffrey Toobin's controversial book on the Supreme Court. On one point, I agree with Griffin that Toobin gets it right:
Here’s one insight from Toobin that seems intuitively correct, but I haven’t seen emphasized by anyone else. “Bush had a businessman’s contempt for lawyers generally, and he viewed the process of choosing judges with impatience.” (p. 260) “All of the top officials who were considering Miers’s appointment –Bush, Cheney, Card, Rove, and Miers herself—had relatively little idea what Supreme Court justices actually do all day. . . .Everyone in Bush’s inner circle came out of the corporate world, where they believed that good judgment and instincts mattered more than reflective analysis. The same was true for corporate lawyers. Bush would never have dreamed of asking prospective members of his cabinet for writing samples, and he didn’t require them of Miers either. For the president, it was not a problem that Miers had no writing to offer.”
So how could Bush have avoided this mistake? By having a diversity of advisers. If I were President -- the thought of it makes many people shiver -- or in fact had any real power, I would have a variety of advisers. They should have varying areas of expertise and varying political views. I would also have a separate person to be the devil's advocate, and another person to remind me of my core values, which can easily be lost with all of those different advisers.
My sense is that the Bush people try to get excellent people, but the key is that they be loyal to Bush. That is not good enough.