Thursday, October 06, 2005

Great Post at Atrios about Miers and Elitism

Harriet Miers isn't qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice but it's not because she didn't get her degrees from the right school. Miers just was never an influential political thinker. I'd have hated Robert Bork on the Supreme Court but he is qualified and is was part of the public debate and he is demonstrably smart enough that you can think, as I do, that he's a nutjob but you really have to engage him and think about what he says and writes in order to justify that he's crazy. Miers seems too inconsequential.

But, it has nothing to do with where she went to school. I went to the University of New Mexico, which is a pretty well-funded and sizable public university that excels in a few areas like medicine, biology and environmental law and is midling in the rest. I now live in New York and work around a lot of people with degrees from deservedly respected schools. Sure, I wished I'd gone to Harvard. I would have had a blast and would have done well. But, whatever. You get into life and you realize that thoughtful people have a lot in common with each other no matter where they went to school. UNM had it's advantages, anyway. Professors taught the classes and T.A.'s just helped. I always knew the prof, even in big lecture classes. The best profs, perhaps knowing they weren't exactly working at the top institution in their profession brought some enthusiasm to the table and had a little bit of the fire that can be lit when you've got something to prove. The more ambitious students, knowing that the university name on the resume wouldn't exactly open doors later, did what they had to do outside of school in order to give themselves an edge. That wasn't always easy but, man, they were good times. Heck, my friends and I kept trying to turn Albuquerque into the next Seattle. Silly much? Yes. But it's good to have an impossible goal.

But enough about me, this is about Miers. The objection to Miers should be about her lack of any substantive intellectual record, as she heads towards a lifetime appointment to the branch of government that is charged with deciding which laws are in accordance with our founding principles and which aren't. That's a serious charge. It's very easy to ask why she should be one of nine, out of 280 million, who we should trust on such matters. Hell, there are professors at schools so obscure that I've never heard of them who would be far more qualified than she is, or I am or than most of the court is. But there are, sadly, people on the right and the left, who seem mostly concerned that she went to the wrong schools. But everyone I know who went to a great school could name some morons who were in there with them. And, of course, I can't resist pointing out that our dear, uncurious president has degrees from Yale and Harvard in frames. Forget the pedigrees. Make this fight about Miers as a thinker.


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