Mark Twain famously wrote back from Europe to his worried American readers: "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Just so, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne has been fanning rumors of the death of the conservative movement. "Conservatives will regret the Miers withdrawal," he writes today. Dionne cites the efforts of the White House to sell Miss Miers' nomination to conservatives because of her religious convictions. He says that this should end any objections to a serious examination of judicial nominees' religious beliefs.
Did Mr. Dionne miss something here? Despite the praise that many leaders properly gave to Miss Miers' faithful service in her church, the conservative resistance to her appointment proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that religious affiliation does not trump qualifications, experience, and overall judicial philosophy. Conservatives did not go through her video rental records as some liberal activists did to Judge Bork. They did not demonize Miss Miers. The entire debate was conducted in a spirited but civil way. Far from showing the conservative movement dead, dying, or even "on the ropes," this lively debate was a model for how responsible citizens should conduct themselves in the public square. Conservatives have nothing to be ashamed of.
Perkins is being disingenuous. Miers' faithful service to her church was not ballyhooed as a virtue in and of itself. Rather, her faith was passed along with a wink and a nod as evidence of how she would treat certain issues certain to come before her as a Supreme Court justice. That assurance was enough for Dr. Dobson -- until, that is, a Miers speech surfaced wherein she evinced some strikingly non-conservative views.
The larger point, here, of course, is that conservatives were happy to let judicial philosophy trump qualifications and experience until they decided they weren't happy with Miers' judicial philosophy. Only at that point did the woman's lack of qualifications to serve on the nation's highest court become an issue.
Two more quick points. Liberal activists did not go through Judge Bork's video rental records. FAIR reports that a D.C. newspaper got the records. Liberal activists like People for the American Way and the ACLU denounced the newspaper for printing the information.
Second, the Republican party surely is not dead, nor is the Religious Right which drives social policy within the party. Republicans still control the entire federal government and will for at least another year. No, no, the Republican party isn't dead: just ethically bankrupt. A fact 61% of Americans undoubtedly considered before giving Bush a big thumbs down.