War is hell. Presidents do some strange things when we're at war. Sometimes that involves telling Congress to go to hell. And that's great. Because this is America, and we have three branches of government, and they kinda balance each other out, though maybe not so well at the moment, depending on whom you ask.
There you have it: The Unfair Park version of Harriet Miers' address to 400 or so lawyers at a Dallas Bar Association luncheon today. We gained a sliver of insight into Miers, Dallas native, counsel to the president and Supreme Court-nominated cipher: As Jim Schutze discovered, she is universally viewed in Dallas by those who know her as an honorable, decent human being. Genuine warmth was evident in the two standing ovations Miers, a former Dallas Bar Association president, received. But spontaneity isn't exactly her strength. Some of those criticisms you heard during Miers' week or so as a Supreme Court nominee—that she wasn't quick on her feet, wasn't especially articulate—came through in muffled ways in her speech, which would more accurately be described as a civics lesson.
Every word was scripted. Not much to quote here; Miers compared Bush's actions as a wartime president to Lincoln blockading Confederate ports, Franklin Roosevelt authorizing military commissions and Truman ordering the seizure of steel mills when workers were threatening to strike during the Korean War. "Unlike the ideal scales of justice, which are perfectly balanced, balancing the three powers...cannot be perfect and should not be," she said. It didn't get much more colorful than that.
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The only unscripted moment we witnessed was telling. Before the luncheon, Dallas Morning News reporter Colleen McCain Nelson politely approached Miers to ask a question. Miers spotted the notebook and press badge and literally walked backward with each step Nelson took, a taut, terrified smile on her face. "I really can't comment," Miers said. Then a handler swooped in to rescue her. --Julie Lyons