Is something in the water at the White House? They're just digging the hole deeper with the Miers nomination. When you get a mainstream news outlet calling them on something like this, you know they're in trouble. CNN: White House defends talk of Miers' religion.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush suggested Wednesday that Harriet Miers' evangelical Christian beliefs were part of the reason he nominated her to the Supreme Court. But later a White House spokesman said her religion played no role in her selection.
"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush told reporters at the White House. "They want to know Harriet Miers' background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions."
"Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion," Bush said during Oval Office comments with visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. "Part of it has to do with the fact that she was a pioneer woman and a trailblazer in the law in Texas."[...]
Later Wednesday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan denied Miers' religious beliefs had anything to do with her nomination.
"Harriet Miers is a person of faith," McClellan told reporters. "She recognizes, however, that a person's religion or personal views have no role when it comes to making decisions as a judge."
Surely the White House has thinking of ways to placate a base and conservative punditry in rebellion, but if this how they're going to do it (i.e., by claiming to have picked her for illegal reasons), it doesn't seem to be helping them.
Almost makes me wonder whether they're trying to shift the story away from Miers' (un)qualifications and general mediocrity to a religion thing -- and whether press stories exposing contradictory White House talking points are part of that. See, we told you that the liberal, elitist, secularist, baby-killing media hates evangelicals. That kind of thing.
But that strategy strikes me as unlikely, since I can't help but think that Bush actually wants to see her confirmed. And in coming dangerously close to talk of a "religious test," Bush isn't winning any fans with a (D) next to their name.