A Malfunctioning White House:
In all the attention paid to Harriet Miers lack of qualifications to be on the Supreme Court, the process by which she became the nominee has generally been ignored. After all, it is only day two in this sad saga. Here is a long excerpt from Tom Smith's post on The Right Coast that deserves wide circulation, in addition to MSM follow up by journalists. (We bloggers, after all, can only do so much.)
The more I think about this nomination, the worse it seems. But then, I am so frequently wrong, perhaps that bodes well. Worst to me is that it is redolent of weakness. It is the sort of decision a President who feels weak would make. It is also completely conflicted. When Ms. Miers put her hat in the ring, who in the WH was supposed to say, "but, Mr. President, she's not qualified"? Anybody who torpedoed her would have to work with her in the future, which would not be fun. So the people closest to the process are immediately in a position of not being able to give candid advice — a reason not to pick close cronies in the first place. Relatedly, the WH counsel's office traditionally is the place judicial candidates are vetted. So this is like your marriage counselor telling you you should get divorced and marry her, or something. Total conflict of interest. Bush needs a lawyer or something to advise him on how to make decisions consistently with his duties of office. Oh that's right! His lawyer's the one getting nominated! Well, I'm sure her sense of law and propriety will dramatically improve once she is making unreviewable law for the whole country.

Also, it looks like a weak president captured by his staff. Maybe this is too cynical, but I fear, utterly lovely in every conceivable respect though she may be, Ms. Miers may have sensed that when W was at his most embattled was the perfect time to cash in her big chip with the guy. And with threats from the Dems on one side, and your staff using that to help themselves on the other, what are you supposed to do? And don't imagine there was a soul in the WH saying, uh, maybe we should pick someone who is, like, really qualified? I don't know if there is a species in which the babies eat the parents, some spiders maybe, but if so, they should be called creepycrawly Whitehousestaffiensis. This has that look to me. It also looks very much like a deal with the Senate Democrats, a pick off their list of acceptable candidates, which makes one wonder why Bush and Rove thought that was necessary, unless they think things are going really badly, which maybe they are. Miers and Rove probably get along famously. How very nice for them.

I have been a critic of the Yale-Harvard-Supreme Court Clerk- etc. etc. mystique before, and I do think being overly impressed by liberal establishment credentials plays into the hands of the dark side. But really. I can't help but think W's not being a lawyer makes him a bit clueless about what a Supreme Court Justice should be. It's a very demanding job, both intellectually and morally. You put someone not up to the job up there and bad things happen. Bad things happen to prose — read a Souter opinion (if you dare); bad things happen to philosophy (Kennedy) and bad things happen to law (O'Connor).
I do not expect any president to know enough about judicial philosophy to pick judges on his own. I expect him or her, however, to appoint advisers who do know about such matters and follow their advice. Either the President made this choice on the recommendation of his principal adviser (which is Harriet Miers), over her objection, or for some reason she abstained to counsel him on the merits of this particular pick in which case she could not perform her principal task which would have then fallen to her subordinates or to the President's political advisers.

In any case, there is no basis in fact to trust the President's judgment about the kind of justice she will be. None.

Update: Matthew Frank makes a similar observation this morning in NRO's Bench Memos.:

The trouble is, her own self-interest became inextricably bound up in the process of decision-making at that point. Not a good thing, and it was Bush's fault. So, to whom did he turn, if anyone, for an opinion on Miers's merits?