Thursday, October 13, 2005

Harriet Miers: a Strunk and White nightmare

David Brooks has a scathing column in NYT today on Miers's writing.

No one should have to pay for $49.99 for his typically dumbass commentary, so I'll just repost the good parts.

In Her Own Words
Published: October 13, 2005

Of all the words written about Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the early 90's, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called "President's Opinion" for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian.

Of course, we have to make allowances for the fact that the first job of any association president is to not offend her members. Still, nothing excuses sentences like this:

"More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."

Or this: "We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism."

Or this: "When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved."

Or passages like this: "An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin."


I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers's prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things.


Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Supreme Court justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively. Miers's columns provide no evidence of that.

I'm liking this nominee more and more. I see Ginsberg putting her through a grueling intellectual hazing, law clerks laughing at her behind her back, consistent losses in the Supreme Court Justices scrabble games, etc.


Blogger Marvelle said...

I think her nomination to the Supreme Court would be less controversial if we could synergize the concerns of some with the positive aspects of this selection so that we could come to a consensus that would help us move on a go-forward basis and reach a meaningful and robust conclusatory situation in which all parties feel as if their judgements were portrayed in a fair manner.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Marvelle said...

Oh yeah, you pay $50 bucks to read John Tierney and David Brooks!


11:51 AM  
Blogger bda said...

I don't pay for shit. I steal my company's password. And occasionally pens from the supply closet.

12:19 PM  
Blogger bda said...

Just kidding about the pens, I put them back, I swear. I really need this job, please.

12:19 PM  

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