10/07/2005

Angry mob of Conservatives Confront Bush Aides

Alas, no pitchforks, no tar, no feathers and no torches... -- law

Conservatives Confront Bush Aides
Anger Over Nomination of Miers Boils Over During Private Meetings

By Peter Baker and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 6, 2005; Page A01

The conservative uprising against President Bush escalated yesterday as Republican activists angry over his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court confronted the president's envoys during a pair of tense closed-door meetings.

A day after Bush publicly beseeched skeptical supporters to trust his judgment on Miers, a succession of prominent conservative leaders told his representatives that they did not. Over the course of several hours of sometimes testy exchanges, the dissenters complained that Miers was an unknown quantity with a thin résumé and that her selection -- Bush called her "the best person I could find" -- was a betrayal of years of struggle to move the court to the right...

At one point in the first of the two off-the-record sessions, according to several people in the room, White House adviser Ed Gillespie suggested that some of the unease about Miers "has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism." Irate participants erupted and demanded that he take it back. Gillespie later said he did not mean to accuse anyone in the room but "was talking more broadly" about criticism of Miers.

The tenor of the two meetings suggested that Bush has yet to rally his own party behind Miers and underscores that he risks the biggest rupture with the Republican base of his presidency. While conservatives at times have assailed some Bush policy decisions, rarely have they been so openly distrustful of the president himself.

Leaders of such groups as Paul M. Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation and the Eagle Forum yesterday declared they could not support Miers at this point, while columnist George Will decried the choice as a diversity pick without any evidence that Miers has the expertise and intellectual firepower necessary for the high court.


Conservatives Confront Bush Aides

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