The past few months have been a target-rich environment for America’s press. Between the president’s declining poll numbers, increased hostilities in Iraq, two devastating hurricanes, exploding energy prices, some high-profile political scandals, and a couple of Supreme Court vacancies, the media certainly have had a lot of juicy issues on their plates.
Yet, it seems that the president’s unexpected nomination of Harriet Miers defused the highly anticipated battle over retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s replacement, and the press are so disappointed by the subsequent lack of bloodletting that they are trying to stoke the curiously absent fires of discontent themselves.
As has been well reported the past few days, much of the media reaction to the Miers nomination has come in two forms. First, the press suggested that the president is in such a weakened political state due to Iraq, Katrina, and energy prices that he can ill afford a battle with Democrats over this vacancy.
In fact, some press representatives have gone so far as stating that the president is intentionally dodging a fight:
On the other hand, after high-profile Democrats such as Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-Nev) spoke approvingly of the president’s nominee, the media almost en masse decided to quote angry conservatives in an attempt to incite ire from the right that didn’t materialize from the left:
Finally, on Wednesday, CNN reported the results of a new poll concerning the president’s choice to replace Justice O’Connor, and focused most of its attention on what the conservatives who were questioned thought about Miers: “Americans, particularly conservatives, are less supportive of President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court than they initially were for his nomination of John Roberts, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday night.”
This all raises a very obvious question: When did the mainstream media become so interested in what conservatives think?
The answer: When there was no outcry from the left concerning the Miers nomination, and it appeared that the long-awaited battle over this confirmation might not occur.
As a result, the press are now employing a peculiar brand of hypocrisy with their recent tactics. For several years, the media have regularly complained about the contentious political environment that exists in our nation. Of course, it is normally conservatives that are blamed for this malady.
As such, after Katrina hit, there was an outcry from much of the mainstream media with the following theme: Given the supposed poor response by the Bush administration to the disaster in New Orleans, it was incumbent upon the president to replace Justice O’Connor with a more moderate nominee than newly sworn in Chief Justice John Roberts that would act to unite our nation rather than further divide it.
Yet, now that it appears from Democratic reaction to Miers that the president has done exactly that, the press are chastising Bush for running away from this battle, and highlighting conservative disgust in an effort to ignite hostilities that they just four weeks ago wanted the president to avoid.
What does this tell us? First, it is the media that have been itching for this ideological battle and not necessarily our elected officials. Second, the press have no interest in unity or peace between the nation’s two major parties, and in the unlikely event that either condition actually surfaces, they will do whatever possible to subvert it regardless of their frequent statements of disgust with America’s contentious political environment.