"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, October 13, 2005

This May Be the Final Stroke . . .

Given that we host some pretty serious writers on this blog our internal dissent over Harriet Miers may come to an end as you read this Southern Appeal post by Francis Beckwith quoting David Brooks quoting Harriet Miers (hot damn, that's writing!).

I reproduce the post below:

This is painful to read - Harriet Miers in her own words, as documented by David Brooks.

The following appeared in David Brooks' column in this morning's New York Times:

....In the early 90's, while [Miers] 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.''

Or, finally, this: ''We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective. Achieving the necessary understanding and appreciation of why the challenge is so important, we can then turn to the task of providing the much needed support.''

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.

Or as she puts it, ''There is always a necessity to tend to a myriad of responsibilities on a number of cases as well as matters not directly related to the practice of law.''

And yet, ''Disciplining ourselves to provide the opportunity for thought and analysis has to rise again to a high priority.''

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.

Ouch!

1 comment:

Jay D. Homnick said...

Good grief, this is mind-blowingly heart-stoppingly soul-numbingly awful.

Firstly, as an index to character. This is a person who will not take a stand - even as a sitting head of the Bar. Just being an upstanding citizen is not enough for a Supreme Court seat. (Wait, did I just make the same joke in consecutive sentences? This woman is a bad influence.)

Secondly, as an indication of lack of talent or imagination (or intiative to hire a ghostwriter like Yours truly). Writing that bad is an art.

To choose just one bright, capable and open-minded woman at random, would Kathy Hutchins ever sign her name to such drivel? Never mind asking her; I'm empowered to speak on her behalf. The answer is: she would sooner commit hari-kiri.

Uggghhh!

(Hat tip, Hunter, for helping me toss my lunch.)