The Unpersoning of Doug Kmiec
April 14, 2009, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Ian | Tags: ,

kmiecI had no illusions that Reagan OLC head Doug Kmiec’s endorsement of Dawn Johnsen to lead the same office would be met with civil and reasoned disagreement by Dawn’s opponents, but I’m somewhat taken aback by just how swift and vitroilic the National Review‘s reaction was.  Rather than engage Kmiec’s arguments on the merits, the NR‘s Ed Whelan goes personal:

I was surprised to see this description in his byline: “Douglas W. Kmiec served as head of and principal deputy in the Office of Legal Counsel from 1985 to 1989.” . . .

Kmiec never served as “principal deputy” in OLC. The formal designation of “principal deputy” appears not even to have existed when Kmiec was at OLC, and folks who were in OLC at the time tell me that Kmiec was never regarded as the lead deputy. . . .

Kmiec’s website bio is even more extravagant, as it asserts that Kmiec was the AAG heading OLC from 1985 to 1989: “Kmiec served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush during 1985-89 as constitutional legal counsel (Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice).”

Someone familiar with OLC at the time tells me that it’s unlikely that Kmiec ever met personally with Reagan to provide him legal advice (and that if any such meetings did occur, they would have been very few). Given that Bush 41 promptly replaced Kmiec, the same surely holds for Bush.

I really have no idea if Kmiec willfully engaged in the kind of superficial embellishments that Whelan accuses him of, and I really don’t care.  It’s not even clear to me how Kmiec couldn’t have “served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush” even if he never actually had an inperson meeting with them.  Indeed, the only thing that strikes me as even vaguely interesting about Whelan’s attack on Kmiec is that, when faced with an article by Kmiec that he disagreed with, Whelan’s immediate instinct was to grope for someway—anyway—to impugn Kmiec’s character.

But I guess this is just how the conservative movement operates.  Not long ago, Doug Kmiec was a card carrying member of the movement, welcome at all their feasts and barbeques.  Hell, Kmiec was even a frequent contributor to Whelan’s own publication.  Once Kmiec went off the reservation, however—an event that admittedly occurred several months ago when Kmiec endorsed then-Candidate Obama—he was just as much the enemy as Michael Moore, and was subject to exactly the same vitriol.

Somewhere in the Heritage Foundation, hundreds of conservatives will gather tomorrow to scream at a two-minute video about Doug Kmiec.


2 Comments so far
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I was shocked at how blatant (and snide) that piece was. The guy is like, “ok, everybody, here’s the bad stuff about Kmiec – come and get it.” Really foul. And what’s really weird is that by my standards at least Kmiec is an extremely conservative thinker.

Comment by Guest

Sadly, this is par for the course for Ed Whelan. I’m not even sure the man exists. He may just be a robot locked in the basement of the Federalist Society which is programed to spew barely coherent attacks on progressive attorneys.

Comment by Ian

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