Among the long list of faults the critics of the President find in him are two that seem especially odd. On the one hand, Bush is periodically rebuked for never acknowledging that he's made a mistake, and, on the other, he has been castigated for having dumped Harriet Miers and capitulated to his conservative base in the appointment of Sam Alito.
That he doesn't explicitly admit to having made a mistake is nothing other than prudent. The Democrats who urge him to such confessions do not do so because they wish to offer him consolation and forgiveness. They obviously want to hang the admission around his neck like a millstone and they resent the fact that Bush denies them this little pleasure.
They are wrong, however, to think he doesn't recognize a mistake when he's made one, and the Miers' withdrawal is an example. If it's true that the administration orchestrated her gracious exit, then it is proof that they do indeed recognize their errors and hasten to correct them. Why this should earn them criticism from opponents who demand that the Bushies admit their missteps is unclear.
In any event, they also attack Mr. Bush for recovering from his initial lapse of judgment by doing exactly what he promised his voters he would do during the campaign - pick Supreme Court Justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. After stumbling with Miers, Bush recovered his stride, kept his promise, and was quickly blasted for caving to the radical right, as if the Alito nomination were an unexpected surprise, hastily contrived to appease The Weekly Standard and National Review Online, and not at all what the President has been promising to do all along.
We're told by David Broder and others that this nomination arises from the president's weakness rather than his strength. What nonsense.
Sam Alito is precisely the sort of justice President Bush promised us he'd appoint. If he hadn't wanted to reward Harriet Miers for her faithfulness, Alito would probably have been nominated in her stead. To aver that the President was grudgingly forced to go with Alito in order to placate the right-wingers is to once again misunderestimate the man in the Oval Office.
The Democrats, it may be concluded, view any politician who keeps his word as one operating from a position of manifest weakness.