Because it turns out she wasn't a head-fake. Confirm Them, a bastion of smart conservatism, is jumping off the bandwagon. (Also here and here.)
David Frum is harsher still:
The Senate would have confirmed Luttig, Alito, or McConnell. It certainly would have confirmed a Senator Mitch McConnell or a Senator Jon Kyle, had the president felt even a little nervous about the ultimate vote.
There was no reason for him to choose anyone but one of these outstanding conservatives. As for the diversity argument, it just seems incredible to imagine that anybody would have criticized this president of all people for his lack of devotion to that doctrine. He has appointed minorities and women to the highest offices in the land, relied on women as his closest advisers, and staffed his administration through and through with Americans of every race, sex, faith, and national origin. He had nothing to apologize for on that score. So the question must be asked, as Admiral Rickover once demanded of Jimmy Carter: Why not the best?
I worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... I could pile on the praise all morning. But nobody would describe her as one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States.
And John Hinderaker may be the harshest of all:
I'm sure that she is a capable lawyer and a loyal aide to President Bush. But the bottom line is that he had a number of great candidates to choose from, and instead of picking one of them--Luttig, McConnell, Brown, or a number of others--he nominated someone whose only obvious qualification is her relationship with him.
While Paul Mirengoff adds:
This nominee is a two-fer -- she would not have been selected but for her gender, and she would not have been selected but for her status as a Bush crony. So instead of a 50-year old conservative experienced jurist we get a 60-year old with no judicial experience who may or may not be conservative.
Update, 10:50 a.m.: Bill Kristol is disappointed, depressed, and demoralized:
What does this say about the next three years of the Bush administration--leaving aside for a moment the future of the Court? Surely this is a pick from weakness. Is the administration more broadly so weak? What are the prospects for a strong Bush second term? What are the prospects for holding solid GOP majorities in Congress in 2006 if conservatives are demoralized? And what elected officials will step forward to begin to lay the groundwork for conservative leadership after Bush?
Bonus: From Galley Friend G.B.:
It's Brownie on the Court! If this is what Bush wanted, why not just nominate Karen Hughes and be done with it?
Update, 12:15 p.m.: Ed Morrissey drops anchor:
All that being said, I find this pick mystifying. Miers just turned 60 years old, not exactly ready to retire but potentially giving up at least a decade for the Bush legacy on the Supreme Court. Other women with judicial experience and/or a stronger track record of conservatism could have been found. She didn't graduate from a top-drawer legal school (SMU), and she didn't clerk for a highly influential jurist (US District Judge Joe Estes).
Not only does Harriet Miers not look like the best candidate for the job, she doesn't even look like the best female candidate for the job. If judicial experience is a liability, why not Maureen Mahoney, who is younger, has argued cases at the Supreme Court, and worked within the Deputy Solicitor's Office after clerking for William Rehnquist? Better yet, why not nominate J. Michael Luttig or Michael McConnell, with their brilliant and scholarly approaches to the law and undeniable qualifications through years of judicial experience? Why not Edith Hollan Jones, if Bush wanted to avoid the confrontation that Janice Rogers Brown would have created?
Miers may make a great stealth candidate, but right now she looks more like a political ploy.
Update, 1:08 p.m.: Patterico writes:
My reaction is pretty much the same as the Clam’s, though I am saving the profanity for friends and family. I don’t know much about this woman, but what I do know does not impress me. Bush could have done much, much better. I am likely to sit this one out and simply watch in appalled disgust.
It’s looking like my days of supporting this President may be over.
P.S. From the L.A. Times story:
“I know her heart. I know her character,” [Bush] said.
Translation: she is a crony.
And Professor Bainbridge:
1. She's 60. There were lots of highly qualified younger candidates out there who would have sat on the court for decades.
2. She has no judicial experience.
3. She has no public track record of proven conservative judicial values (what happened to Bush's 2000 promise to appoint people in the old of Scalia and Thomas?). How do we know she won't be another Souter? or Kennedy?
4. She's a Bush crony, which is an unfortunate choice for an administration that has been fairly charged with excessive cronyism (anybody remember ex-FEMA head Mike Brown?).
5. Her resume pales in comparison to those of some of the other leading candidates.
6. Why is the leader of a party that supposedly about merit and against affirmative action making an appointment that can only be explained as an affirmative action choice?
7. And if Bush was bound and determined to make an affirmative action choice, why not go with a more experienced and qualified woman like Edith Jones or minority like Emilio Garza?
This appointment reeks of cronyism, which along with prideful arrogance seems to be the besetting sin of the Bush presidency.
And this may be the best day of the year to be reading NRO. No surprise that the best post of the morning is from Ramesh Ponnuru, who's even funnier than he is smart:
It's an inspiring testament to the diversity of the president's cronies. Wearing heels is not an impediment to being a presidential crony in this administration! I can only assume that the president felt that his support was slipping in this important bloc, and he had to do something to shore it up.