Harriet Miers: Christmas Message “Too Christian”
. . . a report from John Fund in yesterday’s OpinionJournal Political Diary.
In 2001, Ms. Miers held the post of White House staff secretary, the person who sees every piece of paper before it goes to the president. Her exacting standards for punctuation and format often drove presidential aides crazy, with some calling her “the school marm” behind her back. But Ned Ryun, a writer in the presidential correspondence shop, had a different run-in with Ms. Miers.As we have already observed, the problem is not that Miers is actually a closet liberal (although we don’t know she’s not). It’s that she simply doesn’t look like the kind of conservative who is willing to take tough stands that the media, the law school professors and the Georgetown cocktail circuit won’t like.
After he had prepared the text of the annual White House Christmas message, as he tells the story, the director of correspondence and the deputy director edited and approved the message. Then it was sent to Ms. Miers for final vetting. She promptly e-mailed Mr. Ryun demanding changes, telling him the message might offend people of other faiths because it had too much of a Christian orientation. Mr. Ryun, son of Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun, prides himself on having good political antennae. He didn’t think the message at all offensive. The correspondence staff backed him up. Mr. Ryun also consulted Ken Mehlman, then the White House’s political director (and now Republican National Committee chairman). Mr. Mehlman, who is Jewish, saw nothing wrong. But Ms. Miers insisted the message be changed. Mr. Ryun refused and the assignment was eventually taken out of his hands.
“Miers purposefully sought to dilute the Christianity of the message, thus revealing to me at least a willingness to compromise unnecessarily without outside pressure,” says Mr. Ryun. Apart from Christmas cards, Mr. Ryun wonders why “no one know really knows what a 60-year-old person, who has been in the public eye for some time, really believes?”