“Trust, but verify.”

Thank you, Ronald Reagan. Sure wish you were here today – I’d love to hear your advice concerning the current Supreme Court nominee.

Then again, you probably wouldn’t like what’s happened to your party, to say nothing of what’s ahead.

“Trust me.” That’s what President Bush said when it comes to rampant doubts on both sides of the aisle about his nominee to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat.

If you think things are rough now, consider if the current, controversial nominee drops – or is pushed – out. It could happen. If the person I suspect would be next is named, the GOP and conservatives will be apoplectic.

Where are we now? Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired; Harriet Miers is the president’s choice.

Harriet who?

I was doing radio the morning the president made the announcement. We took the audio live and heard him name his choice and state why, in his mind, she’s the best in the land to fill the important court vacancy.

Harriet who?

My reaction exactly, and as time has passed, I’m not alone.

Yes, she’s had a long legal career and yes, she’s a successful attorney. But the fact that she was the president’s personal attorney, as well as White House Counsel, smacks of cronyism.

Sorry, Mr. President. It just does.

We’d love to review her judicial rulings – but, we can’t. She’s not and never has been a judge.

In itself, that’s no reason to prevent her joining the high court – many justices hadn’t been judges, including Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

So, giving her that, let’s look at her writings, her speeches, those mechanisms which might give a clue as to her beliefs in matters constitutional.

Oops! Can’t do that either. While Ms. Miers must have piled up mountains of paper during her legal career – every lawyer does – there’s virtually nothing that can be read to give a hint of her thoughts. She has no paper trail.

Trust the president? I don’t think so, not when it comes to what essentially is a blind nomination to the Supreme Court. But short of complaining, there’s not much we the people can do about it.

Even the people who can do something, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and ultimately Congress, face the same dilemma.

In fact, criticism of Miers – and the president for naming her – is pretty consistent from both sides of the aisle, with a lot of the criticism coming from the right.

President Bush, already in hot water with his base because of his soft attitude in illegal immigration and other conservative-lite policies, is facing a real GOP revolt. His announcement last week of a get-tough immigration policy won’t cut him much slack because he still wants what, essentially, is amnesty for millions of illegals.

It’s odd to see critics on both sides of the aisle agreeing on what makes them all unhappy. The Republicans see her as too weak and the Democrats are furious they can’t nail her on their “most important issue” – abortion. They’re still trying.

We’ve all seen Sens. Chuck Schumer and Teddy Kennedy launch their hateful tirades at nominees with whom they disagree politically. It’s not a pretty picture.

It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll treat Miers. Will they attack her evangelical religion?

Sen. Diane Feinstein inquired of nominee John Roberts if his Roman Catholicism would get in the way of his deliberations. I don’t recall her, or any other committee members, ever asking such a religious question. Were they ever asked that question during their own runs for office?

Apparently, Catholicism is now part of the liberal litmus test.

In a “through the looking glass moment,” that same religiously-conscious Sen. Diane Feinstein agrees with first lady Laura Bush in saying the antipathy to Harriet Miers is “sexist.”

Ronald Reagan! Help!

I’m not enamored of Harriet Miers as a potential Supreme Court Justice but I will tell you, I’ve had a thought nagging at me ever since she was nominated and the controversy began. If she drops out of the running, what follows could be worse … and I think I know who it will be.

President Bush had a long list of highly qualified people he could have named. Rumors were rampant, but it turned out his first choice for O’Connor’s seat was John Roberts. Then, Chief Justice Rehnquist died. Rather than move Justice Scalia or Thomas into that position, the president named Roberts. He was affirmed.

The O’Connor seat remains open and Miers was named and controversy is rampant: nice woman, not qualified. What happens if she steps down? What if the president withdraws her nomination? Enough pressure from the Senate, the media and the public could make it happen.

What then? Who’s next?

I’ll tell you who I think it might be and I’ve thought so from the very beginning. “Trust,” my foot. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the intent all along because he was said to be George Bush’s first choice for the first vacancy.

His name didn’t gain much traction because while the man is well known, he presents many concerns for conservatives. Nominally a conservative, he’s a social liberal.

Who? Old friend (crony?) of the president. Texan. And it doesn’t hurt he’s Hispanic: Alberto Gonzales.

If it transpires he’s named to the court, it’ll cause more than ulcers among the GOP.

Gonzalez (a long-time attorney) is now U.S. attorney general. Prior to that he was legal counsel to the president (as is Miers), head of the Supreme Court search team, member of the Texas Supreme Court, Texas secretary of state, legal counsel to Gov. George Bush, senior adviser to that governor, Texas chief election officer and Gov. Bush’s lead liaison on Mexico and border issues.

It certainly raises the question of the influence Gonzales has on the president’s soft border policies and conciliatory attitude toward Mexico.

It’s not reassuring that Alberto Gonzales was a member of La Raza, a far left, extremist, frequently militant Latino organization whose name translates “The Race.” Its main goal: the return of the American Southwest to Mexico.

What’s going on? Quien sabe, senor, but hang on, the ride isn’t over.

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