Thursday morning’s announcement by White House counsel Harriet Miers that she was withdrawing her name from consideration for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court was met with a stupendous lack of surprise.

Miers’ nomination had drawn opposition from senators on both sides of the aisle, but Republican senators, particularly those identified with the conservative wing of the party, lead the charge against Miers, claiming none of her few public writings and statements convinced them the evangelical, conservative Christian from Texas was conservative enough.

What those Republicans wanted was a judge in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, a judge who openly complains that too many of his fellow justices are willing to move beyond the limitations he sees in the Constitution.

Of course, that’s what the politicians say in public. In private, it’s probably different. Battered by a war that grows more unpopular, pulled down by an economy that feels sluggish despite rosy economic forecasts, embarrassed by the federal government’s clumsy response to Hurricane Katrina and unable to push an ambitious agenda through Congress, Bush is vulnerable, at least in the eyes of Washington.

Being a lame-duck frees a president to take chances, but it also takes away election year coattails many in Congress ride back to the capitol. Bush, like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan before him, is now struggling to do the country’s business while members of Congress are trying to position themselves for a re-election bid — or a run at the White House.

The Miers fiasco is something we probably should expect to be repeated over the next three years.


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