EMAIL OF THE DAY II

“The email you posted re: Gonzales’s qualification is ridiculous. Whether or not he’s qualified in some absolute sense — a point I don’t wish to engage with — I think it’s hard to say that his record is qualitatively different from Miers’s. Your emailer, of course, tries to dismiss the fact that he had a stronger education and that he was a Texas Supreme Court judge. “Token year,” indeed. But rather than trying to ignore his qualifications, let’s lay them out:

– Attorney General
– Texas Supreme Court judge
– Adjunct law professor
– Secretary of State of Texas
– Rice, Harvard Law graduate

So let’s line those up:
– while Miers was White House Counsel, Gonzales was AG
– while Miers was a staff secretary, Gonzales was White House Counsel
– while Miers was heading up the Texas State lotto, Gonzales was a Texas Supreme Court judge and Texas Secretary of State
– both of them were in private practice roughly comparable times; my understanding is that Vinson & Elkins, Gonzales’s firm, may have been slightly more prestigious, but let’s call this a wash, or in Miers’s favor, since she headed up the firm while Gonzales was merely a partner; both received numerous accolades, etc.; Miers may win out slightly here
– while Miers was at SMU Law, Gonzales was at Harvard Law
– while Miers was at SMU, Gonzales was at Rice

Now, I don’t want to weigh in on the absolute qualifications of either candidate, and I don’t know how much you can say about how good a justice someone will make from his c.v. But Gonzales has judicial experience, high-level policy-making experience (for what it’s worth), and experience dealing with the very best legal minds (whether when collaborating with other Texas Supreme Court judges, when heading up the Justice Departmnet, or when studying under Harvard Law professors).

I think it does an extreme disservice to the concept of (paper) merit to equate these two records. Maybe your emailer thinks Gonzales has been a slouch in his jobs, while Miers has been an ace. But he suggests that we should look only at their paper experience, and that from that they are roughly equivalent. That argument is flat out wrong.”

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