cross-posted from dembloggers and my blog

Perkie is my little nickname for Harriet Miers.  So I’m easily amused; don’t begrudge me that.  It’s one of the few things keeping me relatively sane.

Anyhoo, back to Perkie…it seems she failed her first Senate test – her questionnaire answers have received dismal reviews from all quarters, even the Moonie Times.  The Senate Judiciary Committee has requested that she do some of the questions over; it would appear that, contrary to some reports, her attention to detail is somewhat lacking.

Except when it comes to shrubya, of course.  On that score – and if anybody keeps score, it’s cronies and toadies – she seems to be involved at every turn.  When his questionable military service record endangered his bid for re-election as governor of Texas, it was none other than Perkie who was charged with the task of <s>scrubbing</s&gt investigating his military service records for the case.  

Bush’s advisers had anticipated that his military record would be scrutinized closely, but they didn’t foresee this curve ball. More than two years ago the Bush camp launched a secretive research operation designed to scour all records relating to his Vietnam-era service as a pilot in the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the Texas Air National Guard.

The goal was to identify potential vulnerabilities early on and deflect any charges that Bush got favorable treatment. Until recently, the campaign was confident that this worked. But as the latest flap shows, questions about Bush’s military service haven’t entirely disappeared.

The Bushies’ concern began while he was running for a second term as governor. A hard-nosed Dallas lawyer named Harriet Miers was retained to investigate the issue; state records show Miers was paid $19,000 by the Bush gubernatorial campaign.

That must have been hard work, like presidentin’ or something, because she was paid an unusually hefty sum for her efforts.   But it doesn’t stop with overbilling and shrubya’s military service; leave it to this bunch to interweave Texas lottery, political favors, no-bid contracts, spotty service records and cronyism.  A “Texas-sized” scandal, if you will.  Yes; not only was Perkie in charge of investigating shrubya’s records, but this happened while she was working for the Texas Lottery Commission (an appointment from shrubya) while its main contractor was being scrutinized for financial improprieties and other questions of ethics.

A Bush appointee, Miers served as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission when it was mired in controversy.

…Littwin was hired in 1997 to replace Nora Linares, who had been fired after it was revealed that her boyfriend was working as a consultant for GTECH, the Rhode Island-based firm that has run the Texas Lottery since it began in 1992.

Littwin was fired after five months on the job. He said he was let go because of the aggressive approach that he advocated in scrutinizing GTECH’s performance, including investigating whether the company made illegal contributions to public officials.

Mr. Littwin, by the way, will be making an appearance at Perkie’s confirmation hearings, assuming they proceed,that is.  There are rumors afoot that the White House is floating the idea of withdrawing her nomination.  I say “rumors” because it’s the usual “He said,” “No, I didn’t!” fare we’ve come to expect from Washington.  I suspect the nomination is DOA anyway, so all of this is moot, if interesting, speculation.  There’s simply too much working against poor Perkie at the moment:  the Wingnut<sup>TM</sup&gt Brigade is displeased, constitutional scholars are terrified, the Senate seems to not take her very seriously and the “reality-based” community feels that nobody that steeped in shrubya’s affairs has any business serving on the nation’s highest court.  

With a working relationship that now spans a good dozen years, it seems ol’ Perkie was the handmaiden for one too many shrubya moments.  That is to say, she holds the key to his skeleton closet.  In shrubya’s myopic sight, there is no higher qualification for any position, save possibly the fact that she is a steadfastly loyal.  That’s all that matters to him – centuries of jurisprudence, the respect afforded an independent judiciary, the legal authority of the supreme court and its influence on society are all secondary.  Georgie boy wants his legal Ms. Fix It in place to cover his ass.  Period.

I’d go so far as to wager that she would never have made the short list if Fitzgerald hadn’t been breathing down the administration’s neck.  Perkie, you see, was right in the thick of all the “9/11, Iraq, War on Terra” hoopla.  Which is fairly understandable – as Staff Secretary, her primary responsibilities included “vetting every piece of paper that landed on Bush’s desk or ended up in his nightly briefing book.”  Matthew Scully, who was special assistant to the president and deputy director of speechwriting for President Bush from 2001 to 2004, elaborates:

White House speechwriters first learned the name Harriet Miers in January 2001, when drafts started reappearing full of corrections, instructions and particularly annoying requests for factual substantiation. In the campaign, life had been simpler, the editing and fact-checking a little more casual. Now the old ways wouldn’t do anymore because “Harriet said” this or “Harriet said” that. Who was this woman, and could the staff secretary please confine herself to secretarial duties?

We had a few things to learn about the job of the staff secretary – the person who controls all paper passing through the Oval Office – and above all about the caliber of the woman behind the editing.

…It is true that Harriet Miers, in everything she does, gives high attention to detail. And the trait came in handy with drafts of presidential speeches, in which she routinely exposed weak arguments, bogus statistics and claims inconsistent with previous remarks long forgotten by the rest of us. If one speech declared X “our most urgent domestic priority,” and another speech seven months earlier had said it was Y, it would be Harriet Miers alone who noted the contradiction.

With that in mind, here is a picture of her handing shrubya the infamous PDB:

USA Today and the Boston Globe carried the photo labeled simply “2001,” but many other newspapers ran the picture in print or on the Web with a more precise date: Aug. 6, 2001.

…As it turns out, yes, according to Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times. An article by Richard A. Serrano and Scott Gold observes that early in the Bush presidency “Miers assumed such an insider role that in 2001 it was she who handed Bush the crucial ‘presidential daily briefing’ hinting at terrorist plots against America just a month before the Sept. 11 attacks.”

The PDB was headed “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” and notes, among other things, FBI information indicating “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks.”

And here she is – although the picture is not labeled as such – handing shrubya papers related to his 2003 SOTU – yes, that SOTU.

Naturally, one begins to wonder just how much Perkie knew about the contents of the speech and how extensively she was involved with the PDB.  Did she allow the 16 words to slip past her supposedly meticulous radar; did she even have the security clearance to know whether or not they were accurate?  The clearance could probably be FOIA’d.  But we may never find out the rest.  Which, of course, is why he nominated her.

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