Who predicted Souter would be left of center? O'Connor was thought to be ultra-right before she established her center-right bona fides and an independent streak. Who knew Kennedy would be a gay rights hero? Stevens was appointed by Gerald Ford, who, as a Congressman, lead the unsuccessful fight to impeach Justice William Brennan (appointed by Republican Dwight Eisenhower) for his perceived extreme liberalism.
W didn't nominate an idealogue who is certain to do the bidding of the Christianists, and we should be cheered by those who are griping:
Fred Barnes is chagrined: "Social conservatives were hoping for more. No doubt they'll line up in support of Roberts when Democrats like Schumer and groups such as People for the American Way begin to attack him. But they dream of the day when there are five votes on the court to reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion. Now there are only three. Is Roberts likely to join a anti-Roe bloc on the court? Probably not."
"Conservatism is sweeping the nation, we have a fully functioning alternative media, we're ticked off and ready to avenge Robert Bork ... and Bush nominates a Rorschach blot. ...He has given us a Supreme Court nomination that will placate no liberals and should please no conservatives."
A lot of money and hot air will be expended on both sides, resulting in a galvanized social right, who will be forced to champion a nominee about whom they are otherwise lukewarm. Roberts will be confirmed, becoming a hero of the hard right just as did Thomas, who has never forgotten who came to his defense.
Frankly, the left should ask some tough questions at the hearings, but otherwise back off and wait until Thomas is nominated for Chief Justice before they shoot their wad.