President Bush prompted criticism from the right and the left on Wednesday after he said White House officials had told conservative supporters about the religious beliefs of his latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet E. Miers, as part of an "outreach effort" to explain who she is.
"People ask me why I picked Harriet Miers," Mr. Bush told reporters in the Oval Office. "They want to know Harriet Miers's background, they want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers's life is her religion."
Mr. Bush made his comments only weeks after some conservatives declared that any discussion of the religion of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. should be off limits in his confirmation process and that questions about his views amounted to an unconstitutional "religious test" of his faith as a Roman Catholic.
The above is from Elisabeth Bumiller's "Bush Criticized Over Emphasis on Religion of Nominee" in this morning's New York Times. We'll address Bumiller in a moment but I want to note something first. ". . . they want to know Harriet Miers's background, they want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers's life is her religion." Forget that he's now opened up the confirmation hearings to that. The issue that's not underscored in this article is that "they" isn't America. "They" is a select few evangicals. If part of her is her religion then Bully Boy damn sure should have been "open" with the nation about it.
Instead, he's acting as though he conducted himself beyond reproach. That's not the case.
Yes, her religion does matter because she's anti-choice and this is how they sell her to his "base." So they stress her religious conversion and her church's strong anti-choice stance. It's all there not commented upon, but there.
Now let's deal with Bumiller. It's not a "fluff." It's not strong reporting either. Bumiller will be lambasted for this. So should David D. Kirkpatrick who doesn't share the byline but gets an end credit of "David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting for this article."
Bill Scher, yesterday, exploded the myth that Focus on the Fool is now being honest. (Isn't their a commandment about lying?) From Liberal Oasis:
The second part of yesterday's statement is another story:
[Dobson]: What did Karl Rove say to me that I knew on Monday that I couldn't reveal?
Well, it's what we all know now, that Harriet Miers is an Evangelical Christian, that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life, that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion, that she had been a member of the Texas Right to Life.
In other words, there is a characterization of her that was given to me before the President had actually made this decision.
I could not talk about that on Monday. I couldn't talk about it on Tuesday.
In fact, Brit Hume said, "What church does she go to?" And I said, "I don’t think it’s up to me to reveal that." ...
... But by Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, all this information began to come out and it was no longer sensitive.
I didn’t have the right to be the one that revealed it and that's what I was referring to.
So Dobson says he could not reveal "on Monday" -- October 3, the day of the nomination -- that she was a conservative evangelical Christian and that she challenged the ABA's stance on abortion.
Interesting, because this is what he said on Monday, October 3 during Fox News' "Special Report with Brit Hume":
DOBSON: ...I do believe the president on this issue ... I have been impressed by the quality of the judges that he has put on the court. And I do trust him.
Beyond that, I do know things that I am not prepared to talk about here.
HUME: Is there anything beyond the fact that you trust the president and you trust the judgment of these people, who you have mentioned that know her?
Anything specific that you can cite in her record that gives you confidence in her?
DOBSON: I think that you have covered some of it. She is a woman of incredible accomplishment.
In her long career, she has been willing to stand up against the American Bar Association with regard to the policy on abortion. That took a lot of courage.
She has -- she is a conservative Christian. She is very sincere --
HUME: Let me stop you there on that.
HUME: You say she is a conservative Christian. I have heard it said that she is indeed, evangelical Christian, like yourself and like the president. How do you know that?
DOBSON: I know the church that she goes to and I know the people who go to church with her.
HUME: Which church is that? Just for the benefit of the public.
DOBSON: I think that I should let her reveal that.
HUME: I wouldn't know. I can't imagine why it would be a secret.
DOBSON: You know, you already quoted Rush Limbaugh and he said that on his show, that she was an evangelical Christian and I know that to be a fact.
On Monday Oct. 3, he said that he knows things he's "not prepared to talk about," yet happily offered in the same interview that she was a "conservative Christian," an "evangelical Christian," and was "willing to stand up against the American Bar Association with regard to the policy on abortion"
And yesterday, he actually tried to claim those were the very things he could not reveal until now.
Bumiller (and Kirkpatrick) present it as fact that Focus on the Fool has now come forward with the truth. They don't question it. But Bill Scher (yesterday) noted that what Jimmy Dobson is pushing as the truth now that he couldn't speak before is exactly what he was saying . . . before.
Publicly. That's news. That's part of the story. It should be in the Times' article.
Dobson's not being truthful. Either when he said he had additional information and he in fact didn't. Or when he's now offering that "This is what I knew but couldn't talk about" when in fact he talked about it in real time, publicly, on national TV. The press doesn't need to let this pass.
(As for Dobson, they say confession is good for the soul.)
Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Miers and the Right" (This Just In, The Progressive):
So why are the reactionaries reacting so badly?
Because Harriet Miers was not one of their tried and true chosen few.
She hasn’t been out there openly fighting their battles from the trenches or the benches, so they, having been stung by Souter and O'Connor and Kennedy, badly fear being stung again.
They also feel their power slipping away, as Bush’s popularity stays low, his ability to get what he wants in Congress begins to flag, the Iraq War drags on, and indictments loom.
They were depending on Bush to deliver a reactionary bench, and now they fear they won’t be able to accomplish this overriding goal.
Bush’s preachers--especially James Dobson--pledged that he would stack the court with justices committed to overturning Roe. While Dobson may be reassured, many rightwingers feel betrayed.
Which is strange, since Bush has done so much for them.
But part of the betrayal is feeling disrespected: One rightwing fundamentalist leader said it’s like Bush doesn't want to be seen in pubic with them.
It's as though they were Bully Boy pawns to win a dogfight. (Watch the movie, Dogfight.)
Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:
Thursday, October 13:
* Star al Jazeera investigative journalist Yousri Fouda joins us to talk about Iraq, the media and his interviews with top al Qaeda leaders.
* A look at the presidential elections in Liberia where soccer star George Weah and Harvard-trained economist Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf have emerged as frontrunners.
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