The Split of the Evangelicals and the Conservative Elite Over Miers

The reinforced cord of ideological conservatives and Catholic and evangelical Christians that helped elect George W. Bush is fraying over the Harriet Miers nomination, to the delight of Democrats.

Although there are many people with feet in both camps, the shots taken at Harriet Miers by the conservative elite rejects any loyalty to their coalition partners, the evangelicals, and shows the natural strains that have been hidden by political common cause.

At its root, visceral opposition by the ideologues of the right isn’t about Miers’ credentials or paper trail, as they would have you believe. It is about the prescription drug bill, irresponsible post-Katrina spending, and others actions that have shown that George Bush is a big government Republican who shows no signs of backing up language that paints him as a fiscal conservative.

The conservatives have been getting madder about that as Bush strays from good fiscal principles, as the war on terror grinds on, and as their support for the President seems less necessary.

They wanted President Bush to nominate a true blue, in-your-face, conservative with a track record that would drive Ted Kennedy crazy; they wanted Bush to prove to the Democrats that they are not in charge.

Instead they got a longtime friend of Bush, a President who they believe has strayed too far off the conservative ranch to be trusted anymore. And they got someone very much like Bush—someone who became a follower of Jesus Christ in midlife.

The President’s plan to nominate someone he knows to be a social conservative, but who won’t have to defend past judicial decisions, was a sound plan. But he didn’t count on the conservative elite calling in its debts and kicking a President who they have come to dislike.

We can’t fall for the nonsense that the nominee should have been the best legal mind in the country, or the very best qualified jurist. In a perfect world, that’s how Supreme Court justices would be chosen. But we’re talking about politics. We’re talking about Washington, D.C.

The Democrats are loving it. The right is taking shots at their favorite target. What an unexpected pleasure.

The evangelicals, on the other hand, have one of their own as a nominee. We don’t know how she is going to come down on eminent domain or the commerce clause. But we have a better sense than anyone that’s come along in a long time that she is going to have a genuine, faith-based interest in protecting life–from conception to natural death. Miers’ Christian faith also will guide her protection of religious freedoms.

The elite has abandoned the evangelicals, whom they consider to be their weak-minded cousins. After all, Bush is one of those evangelical types, and he’s left the fiscally responsible farm. What good are they?

It’s time for the evangelical community to rally support for Harriet Miers. James Dobson was the first to endorse her nomination, but he’s not alone.

Charles Colson issued this statement on Monday:

“I enthusiastically support the nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a surprising, but inspiring choice. She is a woman of great integrity, remarkable accomplishment, with a fine legal mind. Ms. Miers will be a great addition to the Roberts court.”

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, who argues regularly before the high court and has a pro-life protest case at the high court this term, went even further in his support: .

“Once again, President Bush showed exceptional judgment in naming Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court to replace Justice O’Connor. At a time when the high court is facing some of the most critical issues of the day, including a number of cases dealing directly with abortion and life issues, the person who replaces Justice O’Connor is critical.

“Harriet Miers is an excellent choice with an extraordinary record of service in the legal community and is certain to approach her work on the high court with a firm commitment to follow the Constitution and the rule of law. I have been privileged to work with her in her capacity as White House counsel. She is bright, thoughtful, and a consummate professional and I enthusiastically endorse her nomination.”

Don’t miss the subtlety in Bush’s nomination of Miers. She has plenty of experience and know-how. But he knows her heart, as well. This nomination was for the pro-life evangelicals. He can’t say that, or they’d both be crucified on Capitol Hill. Bush choose a closet pro-lifer. The conservative elite hates it, and the left is going to hate her, the more they dig into her Christian conversion and quiet pro-life activities.

It’s time for the evangelicals to throw their weight behind Miers, or go back to their happy churches and shut up about having a social agenda.

–James Jewell


About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group ( Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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