Oprah to the Court?


I knew Harriet Miers' never-married status would get some serious attention sooner or later, but I had no idea her friends would explain her situation as "very European" and "like Oprah." Does George Bush know about this?

Miers' long relationship with Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht elicts this unconventional description from a close friend:

The Rev. Ron Key, their pastor, said God called him to preach, not to play matchmaker. He said that in his long career as a minister, theirs was the only relationship that had ever tempted him to intervene.

"It's been great to watch—and a little puzzling sometimes," Key said. "Their relationship has been such a special one. Sometimes I think they wanted to protect how special it was by not getting married."

Another former law partner of Miers claims that, "If this was a man, no one would ask [the marriage] question." Not true, the issue came up with regard to David Souter, the New England cipher Warren Rudman pawned-off on Bush I.

And one woman who has known Miers since high school put the matter this way: "It's a New Age thing. Much like Oprah. She never married either."

OK, fair enough. But this is not helping Miers on a Peggy Noonan-constructed weirdo test. Noonan, of all people, frets that as the American people get a look at Miers they'll not quite understand her and only have Bush's "trust me" to fall back on:

If the American people decide she seems like a good person–sympathetic, wise, even-keeled, knowledgeable–she'll be in; and if not, not.

What everyone forgets about the case of Robert Bork in his confirmation hearings is that regular people watched him, listened to the workings of his fabulous and exotic mind, saw the intensity, the hunger for intellectual engagement, caught the whiff of brandy and cigars and angels dancing, noticed the unusual hair, the ambivalent whiskers, and thought, "Who's this weirdo?" They did the same thing with Arthur Liman in the Oliver North hearings. I am not saying Americans are swept by the superficial. I am saying Americans pick things up, and once they've picked them up, they don't easily put them down. Anyway, public opinion moves and then senators vote "no," or not.

But Noonan assumes Miers could come across as too Church Lady for America and Church Lady is clearly the aura the White House is trying to paint around Miers in hopes of calming religious consevatives. This is where the "very European," Oprah of the Oval Office thing gums up the works. Which is it? Real live people should not have to be reduced to such false categories, but that is what snap-shot politics does.

Because Bush chose to nominate someone without any public record, the fleeting snap-shots will have to do.