Instalawyer has a piece up accusing Ann Coulter of being an elitist. The charge has somewhat wider application than just Coulter, however, so I wanted to point out something about it.

Now, I guess I'm not too surprised at Coulter's ranting about Miers's background. She went to an "elite" undergraduate school [Cornell], an "elite" law school [Michigan], she was an editor of the law review, she clerked for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and she worked for Floyd Abrams's "elite" law firm in New York City [highly-paid, hundreds of lawyers, most with pedigrees such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Virginia, Michigan]. Coulter's looking for a bird of a feather, and appears to take an immediate dislike to an appointee who has the wrong color feathers.

One thing I've figured out over the last 20 years or so: legal elitists tend to a pack mentality; they are most comfortable with people who have similar backgrounds. If I had been top 5% at American University, I might have gotten an interview with Coulter's former firm, had I been so inclined. It's unlikely they would have made me an offer, however. I'm just not in the same club, so to speak.
I know just where this guy is coming from. I once interviewed with the CIA -- actually, I had a second and a third interview with them. And they asked me, each time, to confirm that the school I had gone to for my graduate work was accredited.

"Of course it's accredited," I said. "It's a state university. Says so right in the name. Who do you think does the accrediting?"

"Well, I've never heard of it," they sniffed. And then, in the next interview, same question again: "I've never heard of this place where you got your degree. Are you sure it's accredited?"

"Do you suppose the Regents of the State of Georgia don't bother to accredit their own state universities?"

The look on their faces suggested that they supposed something rather like that; or, at least, that a school accredited by Georgia just wasn't up to snuff anyway.

What you have to understand, though, is that there is an objection to Miers that is the opposite of snobbery. There is an anti-elitist objection, too.

Miers is an elite because she's a crony. She's an elite because she personally knows important people. She also moves in high circles, and she's getting this job (if she gets it) for only that reason.

Most of us Americans get where we get through hard work and the procedure. Those of us who went to state schools, who have worked hard and honestly, we are just disgusted to see less qualified people advanced because they're buddies of the people in charge.

Julie Myers, the Bush nominee to head ICE, moved out of committee yesterday. She'll probably be approved. She's 36, and she's married to and related to important people, and her only other job qualifications are from other patronage positions she got by the same family connections. She's going to be the head of the Department of Homeland Security's prime investigative agency, and she is probably no more qualified than I am to do it. If I wanted a job with ICE, though, I'd have to go take the service exam, and become a trainee. My education and experience would probably qualify me for a higher pay grade than the true "bottom rung," but I would still have to start low and work up. The only reason I'd get to start anywhere but the very bottom is that I have already worked hard getting the education and experience.

So should she. But instead, she's going to run the place. People who have worked hard and gotten the kind of experience needed will really be making things work, but they'll be paid less than her, and they'll be pretending to be her inferior officers.

This Miers nomination is the same thing. It's not that she's not from the Ivy leagues -- fair enough. It's that she's not the best qualified. Not even close. She's Bush's buddy. She's never been a judge, OK. So maybe that's not by itself a disqualification. She's never argued a case before the Supreme Court either. She's not got a developed track record on Constitutional law. She's someone no one would have picked -- except that she knows Bush, so he picked her.

That shouldn't be enough for a top position, and the Supreme Court is as high as it gets in the legal field. It shouldn't be enough to be at the top of any Federal agency, but particularly not for one with a lifetime appointment.

This isn't the way America is meant to work. It's hard work and experience that's supposed to get you to the top. It's downright obscene to watch the people who have done more and worked harder passed over, time and again. These aren't small posts. ICE is a critical agency for preventing terrorist attacks in the US. The Supreme Court will be resolving the most divisive questions in our society. These posts deserve the best.

Roberts gave every impression of being just that. Good job on that one. He wasn't the kind of thinker I wanted, but his qualifications were so obvious that no reasonable person could oppose him. He deserved it, not because he went to the Ivy leagues (although he did), but on sheer merit.

If you know how to get it right once, you can get it right again. Back to the drawing board. Give us a real nominee.

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