Perhaps the only juicy angle the media has on the Harriet Miers nomination is the right-wing animosity it has engendered. If you want to read a never-ending litany of conservative criticism of her, turn on CNN or go to any major blog and keep hitting refresh. But while wingers from William Kristol to David Frum denounce the White House for stabbing the conservative movement in the back (Frum's criticism was so over-the-top, he deleted a graf from one his most vitriolic blog posts ex post facto), Miers has quietly picked up support from three of the Christian right's most influential figures.
James Dobson, World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky, and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land have each come out in favor of Miers' nomination, though none have offered detailed explanations (and Olasky has tempered his generally positive online commentaries with some criticism). Since Dobson has demonstrated a penchant for assailing the Republican party whenever it strays from the path toward an authoritarian theocracy, I view his endorsement as the most significant of the three. In fact, Dobson endorsed Miers in less time than it took him to throw his support to John Roberts.
Miers has a negligible paper trail on social issues, but she seems to have burnished her reputation within the Christian right through her 25 year long membership to one of Texas' most influential fundamentalist churches, Dallas' Valley View Christian Church. On his blog, Olasky quoted an elder from Valley View declaring that Miers' views on abortion "are consistent with that of evangelical Christians... You can tell a lot about her from her decade of service in a conservative church."
Valley View's preaching minister is Barry McCarty, who, as Dr. Bruce Prescott and Baptist Ethics Daily astutely point out, has been the Southern Baptist Convention's chief parliamentarian since 1986. Thanks to the campaign McCarty and his fundamentalist allies waged to purge the SBC of moderates, America's largest non-Catholic denomination reversed its former support of the separation of church and state, endorsed the concept of "wifely submission," and introduced a resolution to "investigate homosexual influence in public schools." This year, the SBC even began mulling a mission to convert Jews to fundamentalist Christianity.
I doubt Miers' association with McCarty and the fundamentalists in his galaxy fully accounts for the support she has received from Dobson, Olasky and Land. And I have no idea how much McCarty's beliefs have rubbed off on her. But the significance of their relationship can't be understated. And for anyone who values the separation of church and state, it should be cause for concern.
Update: AP is reporting that Miers left Valley View about a month ago along with 200 other congregants. McCarty's leadership style appears to have some impact on their decision. A member of this faction told AP the breakaway church still opposes abortion and believes life begins at conception.
MSNBC, meanwhile, is reporting that "As the former chairman of North Carolina's State Social Services Board, per news accounts, [McCarty] fought the state financing of abortions, and also spent money on plastic models of human fetuses in an effort to dissuade women from having abortions."