I believe a lot of the Miers issue comes down to trust - trust that we are expected to have based on Bush's past character record. There have been times when I have wondered how conservative and how "compassionate" Bush really is. His latest pick for the Supreme Court only served to fuel my recent concerns. Being a person who normally asks a lot of questions and does a lot of research before I make up my mind one way or the other, Miers appears troublesome, at best. I greatly enjoyed this article by A Knight's Blog: "Frum on Miers".
Here's a quote:
"The Senate would have confirmed Luttig, Alito, or McConnell. It certainly would have confirmed a Senator Mitch McConnell or a Senator Jon Kyle, had the president felt even a little nervous about the ultimate vote.
There was no reason for him to choose anyone but one of these outstanding conservatives. As for the diversity argument, it just seems incredible to imagine that anybody would have criticized this president of all people for his lack of devotion to that doctrine. He has appointed minorities and women to the highest offices in the land, relied on women as his closest advisers, and staffed his administration through and through with Americans of every race, sex, faith, and national origin. He had nothing to apologize for on that score. So the question must be asked, as Admiral Rickover once demanded of Jimmy Carter: Why not the best?
I worked with Harriet Miers. She’s a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated … I could pile on the praise all morning. But nobody would describe her as one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States. And there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or - and more importantly - that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left."
I have had a more personal bone to pick with president Bush recently that has been at the center of this discussion. Even usually staunch Republican Conservative voters like me have our doubts on occasion. I liked the sound of "Compassionate Conservative"... but I have not seen very much compassion towards some of the left behind members of our society dished out by the Bush administration. I realize that a lot of Republicans really give no thought to criminals, prisoners, and those who are serving sentences behind bars. It has long been a political cause of the Democratic party to take up these helpless souls' cases before the nation (although sometimes I fear it has been only for good press). I probably never would have given a thought towards the incarcerated myself, had I not embarked on personal experience with having a family member placed in federal prison.
Agencies like FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) that rally support for changing our extreme sentencing laws have shown me that this is a cause worth taking up - especially for conservatives. Meeting prisoners and their families during the times I have visited the prison system, and getting to meet chaplains and the precious angels who minister to prisoners families and prisoners themselves has opened up a whole new world of compassion and life-changing purpose to me. I think a Conservative Republican who is morally correct in their stance, yet unable to be truly compassionate towards those who have a harder life can become only a legalist and a detached law-maker given unquestioned support. I think the sentencing issues we have today (which are worthy of our fierce reform efforts) are because of blind support for legalist conservatives with iron hearts. A public candidate sworn to represent his/her constituents should demonstrate compassion and not just smile for photo shoots and appear to have some. It's not just "show-biz" to me. I just haven't been "feeling the love" from Bush.
"CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller reports that the pardons Wednesday bring to 58 the number of pardons granted by Mr. Bush. By comparison, his father, former President George H.W. Bush, granted 74 in four years; former President Bill Clinton granted 396 in eight years; former President Ronald Reagan did 393 in eight; former President Jimmy Carter did 534 in four. And former President Richard Nixon, who got one of Mr. Ford's 382 pardons, granted 863, reports Knoller. "
Psalm 68:6 - God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Psalm 146:7 - He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free...
From Jesus' own mouth:
Luke 4:18 - "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,..."
Hebrews 13:3 - Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
The Sheep and the Goats
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
So how does Bush measure up on the "compassion meter"? You be the judge. Looks to me like Reagan, a man I greatly respect, and even Clinton (yes, folks - a conservative can admit it) are worlds ahead in this kind of compassion towards the less fortunate and those who's lives are in shambles. A historical chart of pardons per president (by date and by amount of pardons) can be found at this link. You can see that there were only 5 presidents who pardoned less people in history than our current president so far.
The Supreme Court Justices are a big topic, and rightly so - their tenure in office will affect us for years to come. We would do well to judge not only their conservatism, but their ability to display mercy towards fellow human beings. Judges should have heart - not just intellect and a conservative record regarding moral issues and the law. Do they see only the black and white of the law, or do they also see the faces of the people it will effect? Are their actions towards others different in light of public opinion - are they swayed by pier pressure and public scrutiny? Or are they genuine and consistent? How can we as citizens and voters effect how our government will respond to it's public? Should we blindly follow the lead of a president who claims to be compassionate and yet has been in office six years with a very minimal pardoning record? Even his father pardoned prisoners. The supreme question is: Where is the compassion?
I know a True Christian Conservative should have some. So... "Show me the mercy" - then maybe I can extend the trust to get this administration's agenda accomplished.