Latest News

Letters reveal Miers' profound admiration for Bush

AUSTIN, Texas—Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, quickly developed a deep and almost gushing admiration for her boss from her earliest days in Texas government.

"You are the best governor ever—deserving of great respect!" she wrote in 1997, in a belated birthday note that was typical of the tone she used in her correspondence with then-Gov. Bush.

The letter was one of a handful of personal notes included in more than 2,000 pages of documents released Monday by the Texas State Library—most of them routine legal memos, press releases and transcripts. The letters offer a rare glimpse into the mutual admiration that sprung up between Miers and Bush after they began working together on Bush's first campaign for Texas governor in 1994.

Bush responded to her birthday wish in kind, and included a humorous, if baffling, postscript.

"I appreciate your friendship and candor. Never hold back your sage advice," he wrote. "P.S. No more public scatology." Whether Bush was referring to Miers' rough-and-tumble time as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission or something else isn't clear. Scatology refers to "the study of or preoccupation with excrement or obscenity," according to Webster's dictionary.

Bush and Miers had met briefly at a banquet in 1989, but their political partnership began in late 1993, as Bush was preparing for a race against incumbent Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

Dallas businessman Jim Francis, then Bush's campaign chairman, had recommended that he hire Miers, a prominent lawyer and the first female president of the State Bar Association of Texas, to be his general counsel.

She took the job and has been at Bush's side ever since. Now Bush wants to elevate his devoted friend to the highest court in the land. Some critics have questioned whether Miers was nominated based on friendship and loyalty alone.

Francis, however, said the friendship flows from a professional relationship and Bush's trust in her ability as a skilled lawyer.

" It's a personal relationship, but it's based on a very professional business working relationship. She calls him `sir' and `Mr. President,'" Francis said. Asked if the two were friends, Francis said: "I think they have a friendship, but it's based on a professional relationship. It's obvious that he likes her and she likes him. If that's a definition of friends, I think the answer is yes. But they're not buddies."

Indeed, Miers oozes with deference and awe in her letters to Bush. In a 1995 note, she thanked Bush for a visit and called a ride in a plane with him "Cool!" When she wrote Bush a thank-you note for meeting with a lottery job applicant in 1997, she wrote, "You are the best!"

Likewise, in a 1996 letter thanking Bush and his wife, Laura, for serving as chairs of a Dallas luncheon honoring Miers, the future Supreme Court nominee spoke of a little girl who'd raved about getting Bush's autograph.

"I truly believe if the governor told her she should be an Astronaut, she would do her best to become one," Miers wrote. "I was struck by the tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives you touch."

Bush had introduced Miers to the luncheon crowd with his now-famous description of his personal lawyer: "She looks so petite and, well, harmless. But put her on your case," Bush said, "and she becomes a pit bull in size 6 shoes."

Bush, who nominated Miers to the high court on Oct. 3, has been roundly criticized for his choice by conservatives in the Senate and elsewhere. They contend that too little is known about Miers' conservative pedigree, and they're distressed that Bush failed to nominate someone in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas as he said he would in the 2000 campaign.

While Miers' confirmation hearings haven't been scheduled, they could start near Thanksgiving, said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

———

(Root reports for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondent David Montgomery, also of The Star-Telegram, contributed to this report.)

———

(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTOS (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): SCOTUS-MIERS

Need to map

Related stories from McClatchy DC

  Comments