Did the Harriet Miers nomination reveal division in the conservative movement or wishful thinking in the Democratic Party and it’s propaganda arm, the mainstream media? I’d say the latter.
In fact, the “extreme right” – that would be the philosophically informed conservatives at the base of the conservative movement – was largely united. From the so-called “religious right” to the Constitutionalist/Federalists to the libertarian purists, the views were pretty united. All across the conservative spectrum, the majority of commentators opposed the nomination, most very strongly. A few were disappointed enough to not muster much opinion one way or the other. A few chose loyalty and trust for the President, whose other nominations have for the most part earned it, and that position was understandable and largely understood. With the exception of a few online hotheads who forgot Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, there was no big split among conservatives. To the extent there was any split whatsoever, it wasn’t the long predicted civil war between libertarians and social conservatives,
but a battle between those two, united, camps and the reemergent country club, Rockefellerite Republicans. Only a serious misunderstanding of American and GOP history equates the country club wing of the Republican Party, the wing that abandoned Barry Goldwater in 1964, with the conservative movement.
The winner in the skirmish? Ultimately it will be George Bush when he realizes, as he is smart enough to do, the depth and intensity of support that is available to support him if he’ll just take on some of the tough battles domestically with the same determination and skill he’s shown in fighting Islamofascist terrorists.
The divisions on the right jeopardize Mr. Bush’s chances of leaving behind an unalloyed reputation, a positive “legacy,” when he leaves office and his party’s chances for maintaining majority control. Republicans won bicameral dominance in 1994 for the first time in 40 years because they expanded, united and excited the party’s conservative base.
A base enduring civil war is not what the president or Republicans in general want, conservatives say.