Friday, October 21, 2005

Thoughts from Jack

I've been reading Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, byC.S. Lewis (my second time through,and an even greater delight!). Here are some thought-provoking quotes from Jack:

"If the parents in each generation always or often knew what really goes on at theirs sons' schools, the history of education would be very different."

"The authentic 'joy'. . . had vanished from my life: so completely that not even the memory or the desire of it remained. . . Joy is distinct not only from pleasure in general but even from aesthetic pleasure. It must have the stab, the pang, the incosolable longing."

"We are taught in the Prayer Book to 'give thanks to God for His great glory,' as if we owed Him more thanks for being what He necessarily is than for any particular benefit He confers upon us; and so indeed we do and to know God is to know this."

More to come...

Church Ladies

Women dominate America's pews.
Is that a problem?


Friday, October 21, 2005
12:01 a.m. EDT

This fall, the entering class of rabbinical students at the Jewish Theological Seminary, a Conservative institution, is 34% female. At Hebrew Union College, a Reform seminary, women are nearly half the student body. At many Protestant seminaries, women pastoral students now outnumber men, and between 1983 and 2000 the number of women who identified themselves as clergy tripled. It seems that Catholic scholar Leon Podles's prediction of a few years ago, that "the Protestant clergy will be a characteristically female occupation, like nursing, within a generation," may soon prove true.

Pulpits aren't the only places that women dominate. According to a recent survey, the typical U.S. congregation is 61% female. Women are also the force behind most lay organizations and volunteer activities and make up the majority of church employees.

This lopsided picture is not a new development. Women have dominated American churches since the nation's founding; church records from the early colonial period document largely female congregations. Lamentations about the lack of men in the pews are similarly longstanding. In the 1830s, the Rev. Sebastian Streeter observed: "Christian churches are composed of a great disproportion of females." As historian Ann Douglas notes in "The Feminization of American Culture," the "19th-century minister moved in a world of women," and concerns about whether a feminized church could retain its men were a recurrent theme in the spiritual literature of the era. By the 1920s, the 60-40 gender split that is today the norm was firmly entrenched (the 1950s and 1960s saw a brief return of men to churches, but by the 1970s it had again eroded).

* * *

What is behind these ratios and what, if anything, should church leaders do about it? The most recent diagnosis of the feminization problem comes from David Murrow, whose book "Why Men Hate Going to Church" indicts contemporary Christian culture for "driving men away" from organized worship.

"Church is sweet and sentimental, nurturing and nice," Mr. Murrow writes. "Women thrive in this environment." Men do not. Everything from the compulsion to participate in singing to the pastel tones and frilly accoutrements of the modern sanctuary spell trouble for the church's ability to keep men in the fold, he argues. Charlotte Allen, the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus," explains, "The problem is that men love ritual and solemnity and women, influenced by our all-pervasive therapeutic culture, bring a therapeutic style to the liturgy.

Among the earlier responses to feminization of the church was the "muscular Christianity" campaign of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. In the 1990s, the evangelical "Promise Keepers" filled stadiums with men eager to devote themselves to the "manly challenge" of pursuing a Christian life (which oddly included frequent displays of emotion and the occasional group hug).

Mr. Murrow crafts a very 21st-century solution to the feminization problem, with a message that seems more like a PowerPoint presentation than a masculine manifesto. He is keen to revive some of the prescriptions of the old muscular Christianity--emphasizing Jesus' manliness rather than his meekness, for example--but Mr. Murrow infuses them with the modern vocabularies of marketing and self-help: focus less on relationships and more on risk and reward; less "have a love affair with Jesus" and more "build the kingdom of God."

* * *

Interestingly, Mr. Murrow notes that, among the major Christian denominations, it is the mainline churches that suffer the largest gender gaps in church attendance. These churches, still pilloried by feminists for their patriarchal pretensions, have in fact become spiritual sorority houses. It is the more conservative denominations, such as the Southern Baptists, that have the most even ratios. In these more traditional churches, many of which do not have female clergy, parishioners hear less about cooperation and feel-good spirituality and more about spiritual rigor and the competition to win souls. Churches that embrace male leadership, including the Roman Catholic Church, remain the largest in the country, and the Mormon Church, which also does not have female clergy, is the fastest-growing.

Although Mr. Morrow offers a useful diagnosis of the feminization problem, he overlooks a simple answer to the question of why church is more appealing to women than to men: its domesticating influence. Why else did pioneer women who helped settle the West make one of their first priorities the erection of churches? This leads to another observation, albeit an unpopular one in our age of gender egalitarianism: For as long as women have tried to tame and domesticate men, men have resisted. Understood this way, perhaps the lack of men in the pews is not so much cause for alarm as it is an affirmation of that unspeakable truth--men and women are different.

Ms. Rosen's "My Fundamentalist Education" will be published by PublicAffairs in January.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fasten Your Beltway

It's Going To Be A Bumpy Ride.

By Peggy Noonan

I think I know what White House aides are thinking.

They're thinking: This is the part of my memoir where we faced the daily pounding of our allies. They're thinking: This is the "Churchill Alone" chapter. They're thinking: He was like a panther in the jungle night. For five years he sat, watchful, still as marble, his eyes poised upon his prey. And then he sprang in a sudden burst of sleek-muscled focus, and when it was over his face was unchanged but for the scarlet ring of blood around his mouth. But enough about George Will. They're thinking: That's good, save it for later.

They're thinking: This will pass.

They're right. It will.

But they're going to have to make that happen.

* * *

Can this marriage be saved? George W. Bush feels dissed and unappreciated: How could you not back me? Conservatives feel dissed and unappreciated: How could you attack me? Both sides are toe to toe. One senses that the critics will gain, as they've been gaining, and that the White House is on the losing side. If the administration had a compelling rationale for Harriet Miers's nomination, they would have made it. Simply going at their critics was not only destructive, it signaled an emptiness in their arsenal. If they had a case they'd have made it. "You're a sexist snob" isn't a case; it's an insult, one that manages in this case to be both startling and boring.

Is there a way out for the White House? Yes. Change plans at LaGuardia. Remember the wisdom of New York's Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who said, "I don't make a lot of mistakes but when I do it's a beaut!"? The Miers pick was a mistake. The best way to change the story is to change the story. Here's one way.

The full Tim McCarthy. He was the Secret Service agent who stood like Stonewall and took the bullet for Ronald Reagan outside the Washington Hilton. Harriet Miers can withdraw her name, take the hit, and let the president's protectors throw him in the car. Her toughness and professionalism would appear wholly admirable. She'd not just survive; she'd flourish, going from much-spoofed office wife to world-famous lawyer and world-class friend. Added side benefit: Her nobility makes her attackers look bad. She's better than they, more loyal and serious. An excellent moment of sacrifice and revenge.

The president would get to announce a better nominee--I'd recommend continuing the air of stoic pain--and much of the conservative establishment would feel constrained to go along. Some would feel the need to prove their eagerness to be supportive, and how thwarted their natural impulse to loyalty was by the choice of the unfortunate Harriet. They have a base too, which means they pay a price for marching out of lockstep. Mr. Bush will have an open field. He could even shove Alberto Gonzales down their throats! Or, more wisely and constructively, more helpfully and maturely, he could choose one of the outstanding jurists thoughtful conservatives have long touted: Edith Jones, Edith Clement, Janice Rogers Brown. (Before the Miers pick a man could have been considered, but to replace Ms. Miers now it will have to be a woman. Sometimes you just can't add more layers to the story.)

Connected to this is the the modified Dan Quayle. When George H.W. Bush chose Mr. Quayle to be his vice presidential candidate, the 41-year-old junior senator from Indiana should have said, "Thanks, but I'm not ready. Someday I will be, but I have more work to do in Congress and frankly more growing to do as a human being before I indulge any national ambitions." This would have been great because it was true. When his staff leaked what he'd said, a shocked Washington would have concurred, conceding his wisdom and marking him for better things. He'd probably have run for president in 2000. He could be president now.

The best way to do the modified Quayle comes from Mickey Kaus: "How about appointing Miers to a federal appeals court? She's qualified. Bush could say that while he knows Miers he understands others' doubts--and he knows she will prove over a couple of years what a first-rate judge she is. Then he hopes to be able to promote her. Semi-humilating, but less humiliating than the alternatives. And not a bad job to get. . . . Miers could puncture the tension with one smiling crack about being sent to the minors. The collective sigh of national relief would drown out the rest of her comments." That's thinking.

If Ms. Miers did what Mr. Quayle didn't do--heck, she could wind up on the Supreme Court.

How can the White House climb down after 10 days of insisting Ms. Miers is the one? Mmmmm, sometimes you don't climb down. Sometime you just let gravity do what it's doing. You drop like an apple. Three days of silence and then the trip to LaGuardia.

* * *

The White House, after the Miers withdrawal/ removal/ disappearance, would be well advised to call in leaders of the fractious base--with heavy initial emphasis on the Washington conservative establishment--and have some long talks about the future. It's time for the administration to reach out to wise men and women, time for Roosevelt Room gatherings of the conservative clans. Much old affection remains, and respect lingers, but a lot of damage has been done. The president has three years yet to serve. That, I think, is the subtext of recent battles: Conservatives want to modify and, frankly, correct certain administration policies now, while there's time. The White House can think of this--and should think of it--as an unanticipated gift. A good fight can clear the air; a great battle can result in resolution and recommitment. No one wants George W. Bush turned into Jimmy Carter, or nobody should. The world is a dangerous place, and someone has to lead America.

An essential White House mistake--really a key and historic one--was in turning on its critics with such idiotic ferocity. "My way or the highway" is getting old. "Please listen to us and try to see it our way or we'll have to kill you," is getting old. Sending Laura Bush out to make her first mistake as first lady, agreeing with Matt Lauer that sexism is probably part of the reason for opposition to Ms. Miers, was embarrassingly inept and only served to dim some of the power of this extraordinary resource.

As for Ed Gillespie and his famous charge of sexism and elitism, I don't think serious conservatives believe Ed is up nights pondering whiffs and emanations of class tension and gender bias in modern America. It was the ignorant verbal lurch of a K Street behemoth who has perhaps forgotten that conservatives are not merely a bloc, a part of the base, a group that must be handled, but individuals who are and have been in it for serious reasons, for the long haul, and often at considerable sacrifice. They don't deserve to be patronized by people they've long strained to defend.

And next time perhaps the White House, in announcing and presenting the arguments for a new nominee to the high court, will remember a certain tradition with regard to how we do it in America. We don't say, "We've nominated Joe because he's a Catholic!" A better and more traditional approach is, "Nominee Joe is a longtime practitioner of the law with considerable experience, impressive credentials, and a lively and penetrating intellect. Any questions? Yes, he is a member of the Catholic church. Any other questions?"

That's sort of how we do it. We put the horse and then the cart. The arguments for the person and then the facts attendant to the person. You don't say, "Vote for this gal because she's an Evangelical!" That shows a carelessness, an inability to think it through, to strategize, to respectfully approach serious facts--failings that, if they weren't typical of the White House the past few months, might be called downright sexist.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush's Unpleasant Surprise

By Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Two questions were asked in conservative circles Monday when it was learned President Bush had nominated his lawyer, Harriet Miers, for the Supreme Court. Question No. 1: "Is this what we fought for?" Question No. 2: "What was he thinking?"

The conservative Republican base had tolerated George W. Bush's leftward lunges on education spending and prescription drug subsidies to re-elect him so that he could fill the Supreme Court with conservatives and send it rightward. But the White House counsel hardly looked like what they had expected.

Nothing could have more quickly deflated Republican spirits. The antidote to the Iraq-Katrina malaise was the spectacular confirmation performance by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Republicans eagerly awaited Act Two: confirmation of a successor to social liberal Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. This was one issue where the wind was at Bush's back, not in his face. But he robbed his legions of spirit with the Miers nomination.

Miers hardly seems the true believer the Republican base was anticipating when the president's agents spread the word last week that his choice would please conservatives. In 1988, she was contributing to Al Gore's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. She is listed as chairman of a 1998 American Bar Association committee that recommended legalization of gay adoptions and establishment of an International Criminal Court.

Presidential adviser Karl Rove, recognizing the peril here, was on the phone Monday morning assuring conservatives of Miers's intrepidity. The line from the White House was that Miers should not be compared with Justice David Souter, who was named to the court 15 years ago by the president's father and immediately turned left. While Souter was a stranger from New Hampshire to the elder Bush, it is claimed no president ever has known a court nominee as well as the younger Bush knows his fellow Texan. Skeptics are assured she is sound on abortion and other social issues.

Assuming those assurances are well founded, Miers's qualifications for the high court are still questioned. Members of Congress describe Miers as a nice person but hardly a constitutional scholar. Indeed, she might trip over questions that Roberts handled so deftly. People who have tried to engage her in serious conversation find her politely dull.

In singing Miers's praises, Bush agents contend her every thought is of the president's best interests, not her own. That may be a desirable profile for a White House counsel, but it hardly commends a Supreme Court justice who will be around long after George W. Bush is gone. By naming his longtime attorney, Bush risks the charge of cronyism. After the Michael Brown fiasco at FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), Harriet Miers might seem the last person he would name to the Supreme Court.

Two weeks ago, Bush was seriously considering another Texas woman he likes and knows well. The nomination of Federal Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen would have been highly regarded in the conservative community. Owen was confirmed for the appellate bench only after the compromise forged by the Group of Fourteen, and Republican senators advised the White House they did not want to fight for her again so soon. But there is no rule that O'Connor must be replaced by a Texas woman who is the president's pal. Many well-qualified conservative men and women were passed over to name Miers.

The question recurs: "What was he thinking?" Bushologists figure the president was irked by repetitive demands that he satisfy the base with his Supreme Court appointments. He also was irked by the conservative veto of his Texas friend and Miers's predecessor at the White House, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. So, Bush showed the critics by naming another close aide lacking Gonzales's track record to draw the ire of the party's right wing.

Immensely enjoying himself was Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who let it be known to colleagues that he recommended Miers to the president. With Miers at his side, Reid praised her a little for contributing to Al Gore and a lot for being a "trial lawyer" -- no encomium in the GOP. With friends like Reid, Harriet Miers hardly needs enemies.

The Miers Misstep

What was President Bush thinking?

By Peggy Noonan

Thursday, October 6, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

It all depends on the hearings.

Barring a withdrawal of her nomination, it's going to come down to Harriet Meirs's ability to argue her own case before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the American people decide she seems like a good person--sympathetic, wise, even-keeled, knowledgeable--she'll be in; and if not, not.

What everyone forgets about the case of Robert Bork in his confirmation hearings is that regular people watched him, listened to the workings of his fabulous and exotic mind, saw the intensity, the hunger for intellectual engagement, caught the whiff of brandy and cigars and angels dancing, noticed the unusual hair, the ambivalent whiskers, and thought, "Who's this weirdo?" They did the same thing with Arthur Liman in the Oliver North hearings. I am not saying Americans are swept by the superficial. I am saying Americans pick things up, and once they've picked them up, they don't easily put them down. Anyway, public opinion moves and then senators vote "no," or not.

So the administration can turn this around. Or rather Ms. Meirs can. In her favor: America has never met her, she'll get to make a first impression. Working against her: But they'll already be skeptical. By the time of the hearings she'll have been painted as Church Lady. There's a great old American tradition of not really liking Church Lady.

* * *

That having been said, the Meirs pick was another administration misstep. The president misread the field, the players, their mood and attitude. He called the play, they looked up from the huddle and balked. And debated. And dissed. Momentum was lost. The quarterback looked foolish.

The president would have been politically better served by what Pat Buchanan called a bench-clearing brawl. A fractious and sparring base would have come together arm in arm to fight for something all believe in: the beginning of the end of command-and-control liberalism on the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Democrats, forced to confront a serious and principled conservative of known stature, would have damaged themselves in the fight. If in the end President Bush lost, he'd lose while advancing a cause that is right and doing serious damage to the other side. Then he could come back to win with the next nominee. And if he won he'd have won, rousing his base and reminding them why they're Republicans.

He didn't do that. Why didn't he? Old standard answer: In time of war he didn't want to pick a fight with Congress that he didn't have to pick. Obvious reply: So in time of war he picks a fight with his base? Also: The Supreme Court isn't the kind of fight you "don't have to pick." History picks it for you. You fight.

The headline lately is that conservatives are stiffing the president. They're in uproar over Ms. Meirs, in rebellion over spending, critical over cronyism. But the real story continues to be that the president feels so free to stiff conservatives. The White House is not full of stupid people. They knew conservatives would be disappointed that the president chose his lawyer for the high court. They knew conservatives would eventually awaken over spending. They knew someone would tag them on putting friends in high places. They knew conservatives would not like the big-government impulses revealed in the response to Hurricane Katrina. The headline is not that this White House endlessly bows to the right but that it is not at all afraid of the right. Why? This strikes me as the most interesting question.

Here are some maybes. Maybe the president has simply concluded he has no more elections to face and no longer needs his own troops to wage the ground war and contribute money. Maybe with no more elections to face he's indulging a desire to show them who's boss. Maybe he has concluded he has a deep and unwavering strain of support within the party that, come what may, will stick with him no matter what. Maybe he isn't all that conservative a fellow, or at least all that conservative in the old, usual ways, and has been waiting for someone to notice. Maybe he has decided the era of hoping for small government is over. Maybe he is a big-government Republican who has a shrewder and more deeply informed sense of the right than his father did, but who ultimately sees the right not as a thing he is of but a thing he must appease, defy, please or manipulate. Maybe after five years he is fully revealing himself. Maybe he is unveiling a new path that he has not fully articulated--he'll call the shots from his gut and leave the commentary to the eggheads. Maybe he's totally blowing it with his base, and in so doing endangering the present meaning and future prospects of his party.

Whatever the answer, history is being revealed here by the administration every day, and it's big history, not small.

* * *

Back to Ms. Meirs herself, and the merits of her nomination. What would she be like on the bench? I know the answer. So do you. It's: Nobody knows. It's all a mystery. In considering who will fill one of the most consequential power positions in the country we are all reduced to, "I like this, I don't like that."

I like it that she's run a legal practice: that she real-world experience, a knowledge of the flow of money in America, of how it's made and spent. I don't like it that she's never written an interesting thing about a great issue. I like it that she taught Sunday school. I like it that she's not Ivy League. I don't like it that she's obscure. I like it that she works so hard. But I don't like it if she's a drone. I like it that she's a woman. It doesn't matter much that she's a woman. Etc.

I don't think it's important to show loyalty to the president by backing his decision. This choice will live beyond his presidency. It's important to get a justice who will add to the wisdom of the court, who will make it more likely that America will get a fair hearing before the bench.

Would she? I don't know, you don't know, the president who appointed her doesn't know. Presidents are always being surprised by what losers they put on the bench.

I wonder in fact if Harriet Meirs knows what Harriet Meirs will be like on the court. I am referring to more than the fact that if confirmed she will be presented with particular cases with particular facts that spring from a particular context and are governed, or not, by particular precedents. And I'm referring to more than the fact that people change, in spite of the president's odd insistence that she won't. People do, for good and ill. Sometimes they just become more so. But few are static.

No one can know how the experience of the court will affect someone--the detachment from life as lived by the proles, the respect you become used to, the Harvard Law Review clerks from famous families who are only too happy to pick up your dry cleaning and listen to the third recounting of your boring anecdote. Everyone wants you at dinner. You notice that you actually look quite good in black.

And you become used to the idea that unlike everyone else in the country, you have job security. A lifetime appointment. When people have complete professional security they are more likely in time to show a new conceit. I don't know why this is, but I think it's connected to the fact that they're lucky, and it seems somehow hardwired in human nature that when people are lucky they come to think they deserve it: It's not luck, it's virtue. And since it's virtue my decisions are by their nature virtuous. I think I'll decree that local government, if it judges it necessary, can throw grandma out of the house and turn her tired little neighborhood into a box store that will yield higher tax revenues. Thus Kelo v. New London is born. I decree it.

But I'm thinking of something different. I've noticed that we live in an age in which judges and legal minds seem to hide their own judicial philosophy from themselves. And that might explain why a Harriet Meirs has reached the age of 60 and no one seems to know what she thinks.

Having a philosophy is all too big and too dangerous--paper trails, insights inadequately phrased that come back to haunt. Lawyers with ambition seem to have become adept at hiding their essential intellectual nature from themselves. They break the law down into tiny chewable pieces and endlessly masticate them. They break it down into small manageable bits, avoiding the larger abstractions. It's one of the reasons they're so boring.

In a highly politicized climate it's not really convenient for lawyers to know their deepest beliefs and convictions. Robert Bork, serious thinker and mature concluder, became bork, living verb. Or rather living past-tense verb.

Only reluctantly and only with time do lawyers now develop a philosophy. They get on the court, and reveal it to us day by day. And reveal it, one senses, to themselves.

* * *

And so the historical irony: Supreme Court justices are more powerful than ever while who and what they are is more mysterious than ever. We have a two part problem. The first is that no one knows what they think until they're there. The other is that they're there forever.
I find myself lately not passionately supporting or opposing any particular nominee. But I'd give a great deal to see Supreme Court justices term-limited. They should be picked not for life but for a specific term of specific length, and then be released back into the community. This would involve amending the Constitution. Why not? We'd amend it to ban flag-burning, even though a fool burning a flag can't possibly harm our country. But a Kelo decision and a court unrebuked for it can really tear the fabric of a nation.

Can This Nomination Be Justified?

By George F. Will, Washington Post Writers' Group

Senators beginning what ought to be a protracted and exacting scrutiny of Harriet Miers should be guided by three rules. First, it is not important that she be confirmed. Second, it might be very important that she not be. Third, the presumption -- perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting -- should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential discretion to which senatorial deference is due.

It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to ensure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance that he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, "I agree." Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, "I do."

It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.

The wisdom of presumptive opposition to Miers's confirmation flows from the fact that constitutional reasoning is a talent -- a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyer's career. The burden is on Miers to demonstrate such talents, and on senators to compel such a demonstration or reject the nomination.

Under the rubric of "diversity" -- nowadays, the first refuge of intellectually disreputable impulses -- the president announced, surely without fathoming the implications, his belief in identity politics and its tawdry corollary, the idea of categorical representation. Identity politics holds that one's essential attributes are genetic, biological, ethnic or chromosomal -- that one's nature and understanding are decisively shaped by race, ethnicity or gender. Categorical representation holds that the interests of a group can be understood, empathized with and represented only by a member of that group.

The crowning absurdity of the president's wallowing in such nonsense is the obvious assumption that the Supreme Court is, like a legislature, an institution of representation. This from a president who, introducing Miers, deplored judges who "legislate from the bench."

Minutes after the president announced the nomination of his friend from Texas, another Texas friend, Robert Jordan, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was on Fox News proclaiming what he and, no doubt, the White House that probably enlisted him for advocacy, considered glad and relevant tidings: Miers, Jordan said, has been a victim. She has been, he said contentedly, "discriminated against" because of her gender.

Her victimization was not so severe that it prevented her from becoming the first female president of a Texas law firm as large as hers, president of the State Bar of Texas and a senior White House official. Still, playing the victim card clarified, as much as anything has so far done, her credentials, which are her chromosomes and their supposedly painful consequences. For this we need a conservative president?