Friday, October 14, 2005

That's "What Would Maltz Do?" to you

Why do conservative pundits, who scoff at those who call criticism against Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers sexist, insist upon calling her "Harriet"? That's not helping their case. I happen to agree that there's plenty to criticize, so there's no reason to assume sexism is the issue, but if she doesn't get to be "Miers," then can we truly belive these pundits would respect even a more accomplished female nominee? Lame as she may be, she still deserves to be called "Miers." She is not a child simply because she's underqualified to be on the Supreme Court. Yikes.

But back to these pundits, well, one of them: Gerard Baker's "Weekly Standard" piece, "The Trouble with Harriet," might better be titled: "The Trouble with Neoconservatism in 2005." Baker (or should I say Gerard) writes:

"In an attempt to put out the fire on the right lit by the nomination, White House officials have been reassuring supporters that Miers is fine because she is an evangelical Christian, who can be relied upon to vote accordingly. This is about as troubling as it gets. It's not that there's anything wrong with evangelical Christianity. It is just that it should not, cannot, be the principal credential for appointment to the highest ranks of the American judiciary."

Two problems with this:

First, why say, "It's not that there's anything wrong with evangelical Christianity." There's plenty wrong with evangelical Christianity, not to mention with every other idea human beings have ever come up with. What this should read is, "There's nothing wrong with a nominee being an evangelical Christian." That would make much more sense. But this piece does not so much make sense as tread super-lightly so as to assure readers that the neocons are still as afraid of offending evangelical Christians as they ever were. Obviously this nomination is an example of just how absurd things get when the church-state line is eliminated. Yet Bush's original backers can't quite get their heads around the fact that this particular disaster implicates the entire neocon-evangelical alliance.

Second, Baker states: "It's just that [evangelical Christianity] should not, cannot, be the principal credential for appointment to the highest ranks of the American judiciary."

Not the "principal credential"? How about not a credential, period? Of course her faith shouldn't be held against her, but the frightening thing here is that it's supposed to win her points. This is just the sort of thing that makes all those undecideds who pulled the lever last-minute for Kerry feel vindicated.

The problem with Miers is not that she's an evangelical Christian woman, it's that she's unappealing both to those who want to see an evangelical Christian in power and to those who want to see a woman in power; in other words, no reasonable American without some special outside knowledge of Miers' Supreme talents could possibly think she's the best choice. The problem with calling her Harriet is, I think, self-evident.


Maureen said...

"It's not that there's anything wrong with evangelical Christianity."

My mind suddenly just flashed onto an old episode of Seinfeld.

Saheli said...

I'm curious, does anyone actually call you Maltz? Like, affectionately ribbing? "Hey, Maltz, there are some great jeans over here!"
I often call people by their last names, but I have noticed that I don't this in as egalitarian a fashion as I should. It's hard to tell, though, b/c I have more male friends than female. I do call some female friends by their last names, but hardly anyone calls me by my last name. You're right though, it's more respectful.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

What do you think, Nelson, do people ever call me Maltz?

Yes, a good (female) friend of mine calls me Maltz. I also occasionally get "Schmaltz."

Jacob said...


Andrew Sullivan is not an "anti-Miers conservative" and Baker refers to her as "Miers" except when he's punning on The Trouble With Harry.