To the Republican Party:
I have been a Republican since 1980. I was 4.
Seriously. I’ll never forget the moment that I realized that the guy with the big, warm smile and the ready laugh was a better guy than the dopey looking guy debating him. (Says something that even a four year old could pick up on that.) Obviously, I couldn’t vote that year, but if I could have, the vote would have been easy.
I am a Republican because I am a conservative. I am a Republican because the Republican Party is the best modern vehicle for conservative ideas and values. I am, first and foremost, a Republican because the Republican Party holds, as one of its most elementary tenets, that human life deserves protection from the earliest stages. The Democrats do not believe this. They cannot, and will not, have my vote, so long as they deny the essential humanity and predicate rights of any group of humans. Period.
I am a Republican because ours is the only Party that remembered the value of human freedom when the Loyal Opposition and so much of the world were ready to consign billions to slavery.
I am also a Republican because the Republican Party is the Party of prudence; of understanding that there is a moral value inherent in caution; of understanding the limits of human endeavors; of spending only within our means; of easing the burden of government on Americans; and of knowing the danger of the words, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
A few noble exceptions to the side, there is a general consensus that we’ve forgotten that third set. We’ve forgotten that government as crutch is just as often government as shackle. We’ve forgotten that every time we dole out another million here, another billion there, we shackle men to the government’s yoke as surely as night follows day. We’ve forgotten that there is a moral good attached to spending only as much as we take in, and doing our damnedest to spend even less than that.
But because the Party still, nominally, holds to the first two points, you have me.
But because of the nomination of Harriet Miers, I must now add: Conditionally.
At one time, we took as self-evident that every dollar we give is another hook in some man's flesh -- indeed, it is a hook in many men's flesh, for it comes from taxpayers, and goes to taxpayers. It is a chain made pretty by a gloss of common humanity, but beneath that warm exterior is cold steel, and the chain's third end always, always leads back to the State. And so we have bled for Medicare, and for hurricane relief, and most of all, for the thousands of Congressional projects that tie men’s livelihood and wellbeing to the beneficence of the State. And that bleeding has latched the hook more deeply into the men and women on the second end of the chain, deeper into their flesh, promising blood in the future.
And at some point, the RSC notwithstanding, we stopped caring.
And I can accept that. That's one of the legs down, but I can accept that.
Oh, not happily. But I can accept it because I thought I understood what I was getting in trade: The end of Roe. For that, I would trade a lot -- I have traded a lot. I've made peace with the fact that Republican politicians like to get re-elected as much as Democrats do, which means that the budget goes Up Up Up! I've accepted the fact that no one has the spine to push even Bush's half-hearted Social Security proposals. I've accepted the fact that this White House sees money as power to be applied, not something to value for its own, or for prudence's sake, and the Congresscritters agree. I can accept that, as long as it means that the power is being used to achieve other ends.
I've eaten my own bile, and made peace with the fact that Arlen Specter is part of the caucus, for the same reason.
All pro-lifers have asked, lo these thirty years of blood, is for a chance to persuade. Before the Supreme Court invented a right to terminate unborn children, this issue, as with most contentious issues, was resolved through appeal and compromise and resignation on all sides. And that small, simple thing is what we have been promised all these years by the Republican Party, and it is a vital part of one of the legs of my support for this Party.
And yet, now, I see that leg bending, near the breaking point. And that's a problem, because you see, there are three reasons why I'm a Republican. Two can suffice. One is not enough. And as it happens, you, collectively, are systematically destroying the thickest leg of all.
The President has nominated Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court. We have no indication that she will overturn Roe, no indication that she has a single jurisprudential principle at all. Let us not put too fine a point on it: We have been betrayed. We must now hope and pray -- on scant evidence -- that Miers is a truly stealth Scalia, a woman who will overturn the edifice of Roe, a woman who will rise up with righteous fury at the mere mention of the words "an historic voyage of interpretation," when used in the same sentence with the word "Constitution."
A betrayal this surely is, for you have taken the single thing from us that we have worked all these years to achieve, and used it as a mere bauble to gather our votes, knowing that when the time came to meet your part of our pact, you would decline, promising us that it would be just a little longer. You have made us guess, and hope, and pray, that Miers is at least a shadow of the "judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas" that we were promised. And Miers's nomination is merely the topper on a long line of smaller betrayals.
People of good faith can believe that this is a good nomination, or that the Party has earned enough credibility to take a leap of faith here. I do not. Let me be clear about something: I care precisely nothing about Miers's "qualifications." Everyone fighting over this, put your hands down, go to the back of the classroom, and wait to be called on. I don't care what school she went to, whether she was the Editor in Chief of Law Review (or any other publication), whether she was the Student Bar Association President, or whether she even has experience as judge. We're not discussing high energy particle physics here, folks. We are talking about determining how the laws of the United States are applied to discrete fact situations and, in rare instances, whether a law or legal act comports with the Constitution. Ms. Miers has a pulse, graduated from law school, and has written, on her very own, briefs longer than three pages. She was a partner in a very good firm with a very good litigation practice. I suspect she can IRAC with minimal effort. She'll do fine on the technicalities.
I care, however, that we know nothing about her – or at least, nothing that matters. The single most fundamental question is this: Does she have a coherent, concrete philosophy? If not, she will surely be a return to the bad old days of Sandy O’Connor, and we have no guarantee that she will not be buffeted by the egos around her, some of whom actually have theories of jurisprudence. (Justices Souter, Kennedy, and Stevens are therefore no danger to her, except insofar as they hang out at the nerd table in the cafeteria together.)
I have a friend who was a summer associate at Locke Liddell & Sapp right after the merger. His opinion of her -- concededly after only six weeks infrequently around her -- is that she was (and presumably is) a bright, personable, extremely capable litigator, more or less conservative, fairly Republican, and utterly uninterested in any of the landmarks that are now features of the Kulturkampf of the last forty years. If you listen carefully to what most folks in the Dallas and Texas Bars say about her, you'll get the same idea.
So I don't care that she's "right on life." John F'ing Kerry is "right on life." What I care about is whether Harriet Miers has a well-grounded judicial philosophy consistent with the proper interpretation of the Constitution; if she does, then Roe and the even more bizarre Casey will soon be relics of a darker time. There is, however, precious little to suggest that Miers will do more than bleat about how she's personally nauseated by abortion, but will uphold the "central holding" of Roe, and once again call the lumpen Volk to a glorious future of following. In other words, there must be a bulwark against the natural tendency of human beings to accrete power to themselves, a bulwark O'Connor and Kennedy sorely lack, and a bulwark that, to all appearances, Miers lacks.
So let us not forget the prime mover here: It was Bush who chanced breaking the base when the chance to change the Court for decades was finally at stake. But everyone aiming their spleen at Bush these days has forgotten something very important: He is the head of the Party, but he is not the Party. He is the President, not the President and Congress. He is not the group of Republicans pushing involuntary human experimentation, for expedience or moral deficiency or profit. He is a President who would like to have another Supreme Court Justice to his credit.
I certainly blame Bush for this. But I blame Rick Santorum, for loyally getting behind Arlen Specter and dooming us to one more RINO in the Senate, a limiting force on the President's ability to ever put Roe in jeopardy. I blame Bill Frist, who could not hold his caucus together well enough to put in place the structural conditions needed to fulfill the Party's promise to pro-lifers. I blame John McCain, and every Republican who was determined to hold their blessed extra-Constitutional privileges above all else when the filibuster was at issue, because you gotta know Bush took a look at the numbers when he made this pick.
Because you see, despite the apologia for the Deal, the truth was apparent from the start: The decision to keep the filibuster in place -- to preserve a privilege for the blowhards in the upper chamber -- was the death of our chance to break Roe. Oh, sure, they've now given their imprimatur to Miers. Wonderful. John McCain's ego must be cooing. And the pro-life movement is now suffering for it.
As I said at the time:
Mark me on this: We were just sold down the river. Because now, when a Supreme Court nominee who will demolish Roe, who will replace Sandy Windvane O'Connor, comes before the Senate, and Ted "Catholic for One Hour on Sundays Only" Kennedy begins his enactment of this much-hallowed, all-be-freaking-praised tradition, this group of losers will not say, "Well, the Democrats are in their right to filibuster here, because this nominee opposes Roe." Heavens no. That'll lose the stupid sheep who vote in the national primaries and upon whom they rely for millions of $20 and $30 donations. No, they'll say, "The Democrats are in their right here because this guy believes in natural law, and that's outside the mainstream," or "This lady opposes affirmative action, and that's outside the mainstream," or "She once wrote a law review article indicating that Congress's Interstate Commerce power is limited where four-trailer trucks are concerned," or somesuch nonsense. ...Let us be clear on something here: Pro-lifers will not be to the GOP what Blacks inexplicably are to the Democrat Party. If the difference between you and the Democrat Party is the difference between being functionally pro-choice and being assertedly pro-choice; if you have, finally, abandoned even the pretense of believing in Reagan's principles; then voting for you is only slightly less than material cooperation with evil.
To Hell with the war, the debt, the dollar, the deficit, hallowed Senate tradition, and everything else. Legalized abortion on demand just got another ten years of life. Ten million more dead for a Senate "tradition." Mark me on this.
As a wiser Editor than I put it, we are in this pickle because you have played as much a role as the Democrats in allowing the consent of the governed to be supplanted by the dictates of nine unelected lawyers. Great issues are now fought through proxies on the Supreme Court, and you appear to have no desire to place even a passable knight on the field for us. You have sown the wind, ladies and gentlemen; now reap the whirlwind.
Therefore, here is where I stand, and where, I suggest, most pro-lifers and believers in Federalism will stand soon enough: We gave you a governing majority. We supported idiots over slightly more qualified idiots, we targeted decent politicians for defeat, we gave our time, talent, and treasure (I gave treasure I didn't have to Martinez's, Thune's, DeMint's, and Coburn's campaigns, for this very day), to hold that governing majority. From this side of things, it looks like you just spat in our eyes, patted us on the head, and went about business as usual.
No more. Not one more dime from me; not one more vote for a Republican who says great things about a culture of life but protects the culture of death, all the while spending like a Democrat; not one more knock on a door for a get-out-the-vote effort; not one more inch. Not until Harriet Miers joins John Roberts in overturning Roe. Oh, certainly, John McCain's primary run will be even more painful, if I have my way; but if he clears the primaries, precisely why should I vote for him? Or for any other Republican? Where is the material difference?
The answer, at this moment, appears to be There is none. And there is no reason to support them.
Prove me wrong, or lose any thoughts of my loyalty, and of any consistency in my voting.
Sen. Rick Santorum
Rep. Dennis Hastert
Sen. Tom Coburn
Sen. Jim DeMint
Sen. John Thune
Sen. Mel Martinez