I hope the left sees how concerned the right is over the appearance of cronyism with the Miers nomination.

The main complaints cited at the Norquist and Weyrich sessions yesterday, according to several accounts, centered on Miers's lack of track record and the charge of cronyism. "It was very tough and people were very unhappy," said one person who attended. Another said much of the anger resulted from the fact that "everyone prepared to go to the mat" to support a strong, controversial nominee and Miers was a letdown. As a result, a third attendee observed, Gillespie and Mehlman came in for rough treatment: "They got pummeled. I've never seen anything like it."

What will be interesting to see is if the left supports Miers because, despite the appearance of cronyism, she isn't as far right as the nominee conservatives were hoping for.

The 90-minute Norquist session, where Gillespie appeared before 100 activists, was the more fiery encounter, according to participants. Among those speaking out was Jessica Echard, executive director of the Eagle Forum, founded by Phyllis Schlafly. Although she declined to give a full account later because of the meeting ground rules, Echard said in an interview that her group could not for now support Miers: "We feel this is a disappointment in President Bush. If it's going to be a woman, we expected an equal heavyweight to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her liberal stance, and we did not get that in Miss Miers."

I think the President screwed this one up, and I wouldn't be surprised if the White House is now looking for an excuse to withdraw the nomination. Assuming they vetted Miss Miers properly, they know all the dirt in her background and they may not hesitate to reveal something if they need to create an out and she won't step back on her own.



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