Bloggers Fire Away on Miers Nomination

While politicians are frequently restrained in their remarks about political nominees, bloggers aren't. The blogosphere is full of chatter concerning President Bush's decision to name White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the high court.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

When senators speak publicly, their words emerge from a thicket of political considerations, concerns about constituents, career ambitions, Washington diplomacy, to name a few. People who write the online commentaries known as Weblogs or blogs are not similarly bound. So yesterday after President Bush announced that Harriet Miers was his choice to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, you could hear a disconnect between the political voices on the Hill and those on the Web. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO reporting:

John Hinderacker spent yesterday criticizing President Bush on the political Web site powerlineblog.com.

Mr. JOHN HINDERACKER (Powerlineblog.com): He had this whole situation with the second nominee teed up to hit a grand slam home run. And instead of doing that, he bunted.

SHAPIRO: Powerline is a conservative blog. The headline on the site yesterday was: A Disappointment. That referred to Supreme Court pick Harriet Miers. On another conservative Weblog, RedState.org, the rhetoric was comparably harsh. Erick Erickson wrote on that site, `Mr. President, you've got some explaining to do, and please remember we've been defending you these five years because of this moment.' On the phone from Macon, Georgia, Erickson was just as critical.

Mr. ERICK ERICKSON (RedState.org): She has no outstanding legal writings in her background. She has not clerked, as far as I know, for a Supreme Court justice or a Circuit Court of Appeals judge. She did not go to one of the top law schools in the nation. Of course, neither did I, but then again, I'm not being nominated for the Supreme Court.

SHAPIRO: Worse, Erickson says, nobody knows how conservative Miers will be if she's confirmed. The sentiments of RedState and other conservative Web sites contrasted dramatically with the rhetoric coming from conservative senators on Capitol Hill. While bloggers on the right bashed Miers and the president who chose her, Republican John Cornyn of Texas sang the nominee's praises.

Senator JOHN CORNYN (Republican, Texas): I've come to know her as a fine and decent human being and a consummate professional, someone who has practiced and achieved at the highest levels of the legal profession not only in her home state of Texas but nationally as well.

SHAPIRO: Other Republicans were less effusive than Cornyn but most rallied behind the president. On the left side of the political spectrum, a similar disconnect took place. A blogger on the liberal DailyCoast.com(ph) opined, `My early sense is that this is already a victory, both politically and judicially, for Democrats.' But on the Hill, Democrats like New York Senator Charles Schumer did not sound victorious. Instead, Schumer sounded cautious.

Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): Because this nomination is for the swing seat on the Supreme Court, it means learning the nominee's judicial philosophy is going to be even more important than it was for John Roberts.

SHAPIRO: Roberts went through the process unscathed last month and yesterday presided over his first session as chief justice. John Aravosis runs the liberal site AMERICAblog.com. He thinks he knows why bloggers sound so different from politicians.

Mr. JOHN ARAVOSIS (AMERICAblog.com): The blogs do not have to worry about re-election. We don't have to worry about constituents. Sure, we've got readers, but we're not in a situation where, if we do the wrong thing, all of a sudden, we're going to lose all our readers.

SHAPIRO: By that measure, Aravosis believes that the blogs are a better barometer of how partisans on the left and right are feeling. Conservative blogger John Hinderacker agrees.

Mr. HINDERACKER: One of the great things about being a completely independent commentator, which is what we bloggers are, is that we can say exactly what we think at all times.

SHAPIRO: Whereas politicians, he says, have never been known for that.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.

MONTAGNE: You can read analysis of and reaction to Harriet Miers' nomination at our Web site, npr.org.

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