Totenberg Pits Uncertain Conservatives Against Noncommittal Democrats in Miers Fight

October 4th, 2005 11:54 AM

Yesterday on All Things Considered, correspondent Nina Totenberg noted conservative division on the Harriet Miers nomination and in passing described the cautious, positive reactions of liberal Democrats, but failed to affix the liberal label to Senators Harry Reid and Charles Schumer, who both cast "nay" votes on installing John Roberts as the nation's 17th Chief Justice.

Totenberg began her report by noting that in announcing Miers at 8:00 a.m. on John Roberts’s first day as Chief Justice, the President was "stepping on" positive PR and refocusing the media's political lens on Miers:

Normally, the story of the day would have been Roberts investiture with pomp, ceremony, and pictures of rambunctious children at the Court, instead the story of day was the Miers announcement, a story that left many conservatives privately if not publicly disappointed and Democrats poised for a fight that they may in the end forego. David Frum worked with Miers at the Bush White House in the first term. He posted an entry on the conservative National Review blog today bemoaning the Miers appointment as an opportunity missed to name any one of several outstanding conservative jurists.

Following the Frum soundbite, Totenberg set up a glowing testimonial from Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, who we only later learn in Totenberg's piece used to date the Court hopeful:

But publicly most conservatives were holding their tongues, and others were vigorously defending Miers conservative credentials. Nathan Hecht is viewed as perhaps the most conservative member of the conservative Texas Supreme Court.

[Justice Nathan Hecht, Texas Supreme Court: “She’s very conservative, she shares the President’s values, she goes to a conservative evangelical church.”]

Totenberg then samples liberal Democratic reactions, albeit without affixing the liberal label to Sens. Schumer and Reid, and hinting that Miers doesnt' "automatically" force a fight, which begs the question why a fight would be "forced" but not for an allergic reaction from Senate liberals to a conservative Court nominee:

As for Democrats today, they were non-committal. Said New York Senator Charles Schumer, it could have been worse. And Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid after meeting with Miers on Capitol Hill, seemed relieved that the President did not choose a nominee who would have automatically forced a fight. In selecting Harriet Miers, the President has chosen one of his closest and most trusted advisors, a Texas lawyer who’s been at his side for years and who has virtually no paper trail to complicate the confirmation. In some ways, she’s the ultimate stealth nominee, though some of the President’s critics are already tagging her as a crony.