The Note: "A" is For Alito



At 8:01:30 AM this morning President Bush took to the Cross Hall in the White House to nominate Judge Samuel Alito of the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

President Bush called for an up or down vote to be held on Alito's nomination before the end of this calendar year.

So: Alito considered in the shortest of hand:

Republicans/conservatives: delighted; all is forgiven; they (HEART) Alito; by sundown, nearly every conservative group, talk show host, pundit, blogger, and law professor will be fully/madly/intensely on board; barring something totally odd, he will eventually draw at least 52 Republican votes; the White House and RNC have their research ducks in a row (no rushing back to Dallas to fetch papers); great talking points galore on credentials; the kids -- in their own way -- are as cute as the Roberts kids; when the Administration said they "got" why Miers went down, they were telling the truth; if (and we emphasize "if") the White House needs tens of millions of dollars spent by "private" groups to get him confirmed, the money will be there.

Democrats/liberals: will be divided, with some saying "wait and see" for real, some saying "wait and see" as a strategy, some saying "we have reservations," some saying "oppose," and some saying "filibuster"; by the time the liberal groups are done with their research (yes, amazingly, even regarding someone who should be totally oppo vetted, we predict they have work to do on Alito), the right will be completely united and geared up; only a minority of the minority "learned" the lesson from the Roberts experience that if you don't oppose immediately, you get overwhelmed; if there is an up-or-down vote, we predict at least one "Nelson" will vote "yes" and maybe more.

Timing/process: A Senate aide tells ABC News that, although the White House would like to have the confirmation "finish[ed] by Christmas. . . . , We've told them 'we'll try but don't get your hopes up'"; which means this fight takes place right around State of the Union, which means the White House will have to juggle SOTU message of unity with what MIGHT be a fight; Democrats won't make a filibuster decision for a long time (a "herding cats" matter); if they decide to filibuster and can get the votes to do it, Republicans will take the steps necessary to end the filibuster; the mountains of polling data both sides have had for months notwithstanding, no one can know for sure who would win the "up-or-down" versus "Senate tradition" fight, but based on his sweet/vintage performance this morning, Alito would seem to be a good actor for the Republicans to put at the center of the drama.

Pending/TBD: FLOTUS and O'Connor SCOTUS reax; will any pro-choice Republican Senators have issues with this pick; the identities of Alito's best Democratic friends; whether the Vice President was informed by Secretary Card of the pick, or actually was involved in the selection; ditto Karl C. Rove; and why President Bush didn't choose one of the female short-listers (apparently, America is not a populace enough nation to find a second qualified woman to be on the Court).

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