Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

Oct 19 - Nov 2, 2005
Issue #86

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
Grand Perjury
A Miller's Tale
Allan Uthman

Are Female Genitals Enough to Qualify for the Supreme Court?
Paul jones

Getty Some
Hot Movement Action
A Monkey
Jurassic Dork
Michael Crichton's Science Fiction
Kit Smith
Harold Who?
Ode to Pinter in 1 Act

Alexander Zaitchik

Theatre of War
Inside the Psy-Ops Studio
Matt Bors

Drown Together
On Katrina & Disaster Fatigue
Jeff Dean
After terror threats, New York begins efforts to clean shit out of pants
Clayton Byrd
An Open Letter to Jessica Alba
Irresponsible Mayoral Speculation:
What do Bflo's candidates have to do to win/lose?

Shop for Porn Like a Pro!
Hyman Bender

The Assassin’s Gate
America in Iraq
by George Packer
Review by John Freeman
The Big Wedding
9/11, the Whistle-Blowers and the Cover-Up
by Sander Hicks
Review by Russ Wellen
Buffalo Soldiers
Hutch Tech's New Program: Forcible Conscription
Allan Uthman
Another Corporate Psycopath
The Barnacle at Delphi
Chuck Richardson

The BEAST Blog
Irresponsible vitriol on a near-daily basis

[sic] - Letters
Wide Right
Bills Football & other sports
Ronnie Roscoe
Kino Korner: Movies
Michael Gildea
Page 3
Separated at Birth?
 Cover Page

Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

(right-click & "save target")


Last Issue: (85)

Are female genitals enough to qualify for the Supreme Court?
Paul Jones

“Society as a whole benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.”
Sandra Day O’Connor

Harriet Miers’ ears are surely burning these days. Still, it’s probably asking for the moon to hope her entire head, and then her body, will combust and conclude this latest American juridical burlesque. No, it’s probably going to be a lot more painful—and much less spectacular—than that.

Miers is absorbing flak from all sides, mostly because she is woefully unqualified for and undeserving of a seat on the US Supreme Court. Yet, rather than simply drawing attention to her conspicuous lack of legal bona fides, the intense scrutiny of her record has been deemed by some as “sexist.” She has become, by virtue of her unfitness, a symbol of persistent social inequities. And just like her detractors, those trumpeting the charge of gender bias hail from all points on the political spectrum.

The newest and highest-profile member of this dubious counteroffensive is Laura Bush herself. Appearing October 11 on NBC’s “Today” show, the First Lady praised Miers as an “extraordinarily accomplished woman.” Mrs. Bush expressed dismay that “people are not looking at [Miers’] accomplishments and not realizing that she was the first elected woman to be the head of the Texas bar association, for instance, and all the other things.” Did you get all that? The bar association thing…and then the other stuff?

As it turns out, “all the other things” is about as impressive as it sounds. During her legal career, Miers did some trailblazing, but nothing she accomplished, or apparently even strove for, likely prepared her to serve as a Supreme Court justice. After receiving her JD in 1970 and clerking for a US District Judge, she became the first woman hired at Dallas law firm Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely. She was reputedly a very skilled trial attorney, representing clients like Microsoft and Walt Disney. In March of 1996, her peers selected her as the first woman president of Locke, Purnell, Rain & Harrell.

There is no doubt Miers, 60, encountered obstacles in the legal profession. Marcia D. Greenberger, founder of the National Women’s Law Center, countered critics’ arguments about Miers’ lack of a federal appeals clerkship saying, “There were many judges who would not accept women law clerks at all [at the time Miers graduated law school], including many federal judges.” As it stands now, women remain grossly underrepresented in the federal judicial system. Nevertheless, Sandra Day O’Connor, whose vacancy on the Supreme Court Miers—fifteen years O’Connor’s junior—would fill, ascended the ranks from assistant attorney general all the way to the Arizona Court of Appeals before becoming the first female Supreme Court justice in 1981.

Pushed to articulate a reason for her nomination, even Miers’ former colleagues become tongue-tied. Margaret Donahue Hall, a partner at the firm Miers once headed, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “In my heart of hearts, I know she’d make a great Supreme Court justice, but it’s hard to put into words why.” Is it possible, then, the president’s claim that his nominee had “broken the glass ceiling” was not merely self-serving, but also a glaring embellishment? Maybe Miers just crawled through a preexisting hole. Whatever the case, it hardly seems sound to seek to redress an injustice—if Miers’ lack of experience can be called that—by lowering the standards for the highest court in the land, the guardian of the constitution. And, as has been pointed out, it isn’t necessary either, except that President Bush has chosen to ignore more deserving candidates of both genders. As Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune noted, if President Bush has so much faith in his nominee’s ability, he could have appointed her to an appellate seat, where even a luminary like John Roberts made a stopover before ascending to the high court.

Some reactions to the Miers controversy on the left beggar belief. Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, maintained she was “shocked at the sexism and double standard coming out of the far right.” I always find it hilarious to read such virginal declamations from a class of people who regularly swallow things that would make a buzzard barf. Mikulski’s senate bio states she returns every night from her duties in Washington to Maryland, but I’d be shocked if she isn’t commuting to Earth via pod every day from Proxima Centauri.

The only “double standard” from the right applied to Miers I’ve seen was courtesy of Ann Coulter. Coulter derided Southern Methodist University, Miers’ law school alma mater, as insufficiently august, writing in an odd explication of reactionism, “I know conservatives have been trained to hate people who went to elite universities, and generally that’s a good rule of thumb. But not when it comes to the Supreme Court.” If Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in the senate, isn’t already inoculated against that kind of potty sophism, it’s probably because she’s spent her political career focusing on that which preoccupies our elected leaders: getting reelected.

What’s appalling, though, is the blithe disregard for the nomination process, or the seeming willingness to vitiate it, expressed by some of Miers’ defenders. Eleanor Smeal, head of the leftist Feminist Majority Foundation, summed up her frustration with the questions about Miers’ qualifications when she told the New York Times, “I think that essentially that this hue and cry that she isn’t qualified, there’s a sexist basis to it.”

“Does she have the mental capacity? Give me a break,” Smeal railed. “Would they say that about a man? I don’t think they would.” Funny, but I rather think “they” would, and with good reason. Pointed questions were raised about Clarence Thomas’s resume, and even he had sat on the DC appellate court. Smeal’s incendiary locution, “mental capacity,” appears to be her own. I haven’t encountered it, or even a periphrastic equivalent, in any critique of Miers, although I’m not sure why.

Miers’ greatest achievement appears to be her professional and personal association with George W. Bush. In 1994, she served as general counsel to then-Governor-elect George Bush and later accepted an appointment to the Texas Lottery Commission. She followed Bush to Washington in 2001, where she was appointed assistant to the president and staff secretary, and two years later was elevated to deputy chief of staff. She’s been counsel to the president since 2005.

It’s their correspondence, however, that suggests an odd consanguinity. It’s difficult to read Miers’ personal letters to President Bush without blushing, laughing or vomiting in one’s mouth. She’s almost literally a cheerleader for the president. In one missive, she wrote, mixing the idioms of a dull Chinese courtier and a cast member of MTV’s “Laguna Beach,” “You are the best governor ever—deserving of great respect.” Like, totally! She also told Bush he was “cool.” After witnessing the president sign an autograph for a girl, Miers was positively moist, writing, “I was struck by the tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives you touch.” To which the president responded, with typical modesty, “Thank you for your friendship and candor.” Only our commander-in-chief, a man disposed to unquestioningly accept every glowing thing said about him, could characterize such sloppy fellation as “candor.”

Apart from astounding vanity, the comparative tepidity of Bush’s reply hints that Miers’ ardor, while an asset, is not entirely requited. Maybe it’s finally making Bush uncomfortable. More likely, he just wants Harriet somewhere more advantageous to his own agenda. Can she be counted on to vote objectively on cases involving the president or his policies, let alone render decisions without using words like “awesome” or “superduperbestest?” I have doubts on both counts. Nor can I imagine many things more distasteful than reading a concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade with similar juvenile superlatives.

The White House strategy hasn’t succeeded, thus far, but as usual it’s given them more mileage than it should have. How is it Miers’ sororal protectors don’t find anything unseemly about Bush’s monomaniacal pursuit of her confirmation? His overlooking more qualified women. Trotting out his automatous wife to give credence to an absurd charge of gender bias. Or his ostensible calculation Miers will get a pass because she’s female. The president is attempting to spend all that vaunted “political capital” like a kid using his employee discount to buy a last-minute gift for his girl. “Here, Harriet, have a robe! You like it? Picked it out myself.” Miers, a gorgon who makes Ruth Bader Ginsburg look like Scarlett Johansson, and therefore a prime target for any number of chauvinist broadsides, isn’t the victim of a “double standard” so much as the latest figurehead for an agenda of brazen manipulation and unprecedented venality. It’s cynical, despotic and, yes, sexist.

© Copyright 2002-2005, The Beast. All rights reserved.