Following President Bush's successful reelection campaign in 2004, there was boasting of the "political capital" gained by the administration. In the aftermath of Harriet Miers' withdrawing her Supreme Court nomination, it is fair to say the president's political credit has been overdrawn.
No longer can the likes of former FEMA head Mike Brown simply inherit important government positions with no better qualifications than loyalty to the Bush family and administration. While the days of cronyism may be ending at the White House, this may be the beginning of an even scarier trend.
The underlying reason behind Miers' withdrawal lies within the Republican Party. For two presidential elections, moderates within the party have exchanged votes from the extreme right for the promise of being represented in the next Supreme Court nominations. Nominating someone such as Miers, who at one point in her life actually supported a woman's right to have an abortion, was more than those on the extreme right could handle. Quite simply, Miers' nomination was threatening to splinter a Republican Party already in turmoil.
Bush's approval ratings are at an all time low for his presidency. His political adviser, as well as the vice president's chief of staff, is on the verge of being indicted. The second highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, has already been indicted by a grand jury of his peers. The Republican leader of the Senate, Bill Frist, is being investigated for the same type of illegal trading infractions that landed Martha Stewart in prison. In the end, the administration decided that now was not the time to rock the party's boat.
This is, however, no time for Democrats to rejoice. More than likely, Bush will pander to the extreme wing of his party that got him elected. Expect the next nominee to be from the Anthony Scillia, Clarence Thomas highly conservative mold.