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TV interview
Alan Keyes on Your World w/ Neil Cavuto, Fox News
October 10, 2005

TERRY KEENAN, SUBSTITUTE ANCHOR: Welcome to you all. Charles, let me start with you. You did an op-ed piece last Friday saying that Harriet Miers should withdraw her nomination. First of all, is that just wishful thinking? And secondly, why do you think she should?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Well, we'll see how many senators will decide that she ought to withdraw her nomination. Right now, I think she probably would be nominated, but it will depend on how she performs.

The main objective I have is that she does not have, in her 60th year, she does not have any history with constitutional scholarship or constitutional experience, and this is the Major Leagues of the law. We have tremendous all-stars in conservative jurisprudence--and she hasn't even played double A ball.

So it looks as if it is an appointment that is entirely related to her connection with the President, and I don't think that's how we want our Supreme Court nominees chosen.

KEENAN: Mona, I know you've also called this a timid and tepid pick by the President, but it was also supposed to be a pick that would show that a woman should be on the Supreme Court and is qualified to fill the shoes of Sandra Day O'Connor. Has that all backfired also?

MONA CHAREN: If, indeed, it was an affirmative action hire, like all affirmative action hires, it suffers from internal contradictions. You know, you claim it was the best person you could find, but the fact that you've already established that it had to be a person of certain gender means that it isn't the best person for the job.

I cannot believe that President Bush fell into that trap, laid by liberals, that in order to show one's enlightenment you have to pick somebody from a certain ethnic group or gender group.

I agree with Charles that this is really about scholarship. It's about intellectual heft. The Supreme Court is not just a matter of finding somebody who will vote "the right way," from a conservative point of view, but somebody who can back that with reasoning, with scholarship, with a vast experience of the Supreme Court's jurisprudence, somebody who's been watching it carefully, ideally, over the last 25-30 years, perhaps even longer--and she doesn't meet those qualifications at all.

KEENAN: Now, Alan, do we risk ganging up on Ms. Miers here? I mean, no one has had much positive to say about her, other than that she is a nice person, in the last 48 hours.

ALAN KEYES: No, not at all. Anyway, we have an obligation to the Constitution of the United States. I think that's the main one the senators have to think about. They're sworn to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution. They have to make a judgment about whether someone they have put on the court is going to do that--is going to serve that oath which they are bound to observe.

And there is nothing on the record to suggest that Harriet Miers has the qualifications, that she has the understanding of the Constitution, in principle, to in fact warrant the judgment that you can firmly vote for her, knowing that the Constitution's integrity will be respected. I think that's the main flaw with all of this.

It's not about personalities, it's not about particular ideologies. It's about whether or not the senators can fulfill their oath when they know virtually nothing about the issues of constitutional principle that are most important--and she has no background in them whatsoever.

KEENAN: Charles, what if she puts on an virtuoso performance, ala John Roberts, during her Senate confirmation hearings? Would that change everything?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, sometimes the rookie will come into the Major Leagues and hit six home runs, but it's pretty unusual. Roberts had spent his life on these issues, and it showed, and you can't fake it. I'm sure she will study up, but do we really want someone who's basically going to have to have a crash course--as one senator put it--in constitutional law, at the level of a law student?

What really hurts the President here--and this is a president that I have admired and supported because he has risked and dared to do big things, and this, by choosing a candidate essentially of stealth and a crony is a retreat into smallness. And that really is disappointing to those of us who have supported him on all the big things.

KEENAN: Mona, I know you share those sentiments, but what do you think was going on in the President's mind? Because he initially appointed John Roberts to take the Sandra Day O'Connor spot, so he had already kind of gotten himself out of that affirmative action pickle, so to speak, if he wanted to pick somebody else then to replace Rehnquist.

CHAREN: Right, I guess--we don't know for a fact that he did make an affirmative action pick. It could be, if you take him at his word, that he was truly choosing the person that he thought was best.

You know, but this is not about President Bush, in the sense that he wants everyone to trust him, to trust his judgment--but these are huge stakes. When he is choosing his chief of staff, when he is choosing people who are going to work for him directly, that's one thing. When he is choosing someone for the Supreme Court, an entirely different set of standards come into play.

KEENAN: Alan, we're almost out of time, but do you think she's going to make it?

KEYES: I don't know. I think one of the things they try to do is promote her as somebody who is a Christian and a believer, as if that fact alone was going to be sufficient to satisfy conservatives of moral principle--and I think that was a huge mistake, because it's not about denomination, it's about where one stands on constitutional principles, how one can defend and articulate those principles in a way that reassures us that in fact you're going on the court to restore constitutional integrity, not further to destroy it, as unfortunately has been the case with a lot of Supreme Court rulings in the recent past.

I don't think the President has offered that reassurance. I don't think anything in her background or experience does--and I think she's going to have serious scrutiny, and a lot of troubled scrutiny, from senators of principle.

KEENAN: And plenty of scrutiny already. Thanks to all three of you, Alan Keyes, Mona Charen, and Charles Krauthammer.

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