Samuel Alito Jr. has the most judicial experience of any U.S. Supreme Court candidate since Benjamin Cardozo in 1932, and the most conservative judicial record of any candidate since Robert Bork in 1987.This is no stealth nominee. Alito is radical right red meat with a record a mile long. Alito wasn't nominated to get confirmed. He wasn't even nominated to assuage the Bush base. Bush nominated Alito as a clever political move. By nominating Alito, Bush accomplishes two things. Not only is the radical right appeased, but Bush puts the Democrats on the spot. He forces them to stand up for what they claim to defend.
It may be that some moderate Republicans will be uncomfortable enough with Alito to refuse to back him. But I doubt it. The Republican Mafia is strong enough to enforce discipline within the party's ranks. It will be up to the Democrats to stand up against Alito. And that means filibuster, even in the face of the so-called nuclear option. Do the Democrats has the guts to do that? I sure hope so. But judging from what I've heard so far and from how they've caved in previously (all of Bush's radical right nominees have been confirmed), I have my doubts.
Bush wins either way. If the Democrats block Alito, Bush can turn to his right wing and say that someone with such an open reactionary record can't be confirmed. He can then justify his nomination of Meyers and pick a Harriet Meyers clone. On the other hand, if the Democrats cave in, Bush and his reactionary supporters get control over the Supreme Court.
So this nomination is different. It isn't the standard Bush tactic of forcefully going out and taking what he wants. It doesn't appear subtle at all. Alito is a reactionary with a long reactionary record. But just because that's who Alito is, this is quite subtle. Savor the moment, this is as subtle as Bush gets.