I'm not surprised at all of the selection Bush made. As much as I hoped he'd prove me wrong and select a moderate voice, I found it most likely he'd reward his most inner circles with a hard-line conservative nominee, which is precisely the case here. With that said, I don't believe nothing was really snuck under the Democrats in terms of expectations. There was just a lot of wishful thinking on the part was all.
The Democrats most likely already have a huge challenge ahead of them in working to defeat the nomination should the investigation find some more startling extreme means he's taken before considering when he had a quite welcoming gesture by the U.S Senate in 2003 to his entry into the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In addition, in light of that very weak compromise the two parties made right before the Frist "nuclear option" battle on judicial nominees, the Democrats never clearly explained what they meant in the agreement by "extreme cases" as the only cases they'll use the filibuster, and they may have a hard time convincing if possible that this is one of those cases.
However, there is indeed a great difference in responsibility between a Circuit Court and the Supreme Court, where you interpret the law much more from the former and under the latter you actually often make law. And someone with controversial positions such as these, regardless of his own achievements, deserves some thorough consideration and analysis.
I believe if the Democrats keep mentality on positions more than on the record itself, which admittingly is quite fair enough, they can make a strong case that will persuade the American people that he's a bit out of touch with mainstream America's desires and values. If they stick to the former, they've already lost. If they really consider the positions he's taken on many important issues, I feel they may get somewhere, and the American public will be convinced that they should be justified in working to defeat the nomination.
It'll indeed be quite a contentious next few months. I believe at the moment Roberts will most likely be confirmed by October, but in terms of public opinion, we must remember this sort of challenge can be a setback to either party according to a recent Gallup poll, which says on one end that 4 in 5 Americans believe it is very or somewhat likely that the Democrats will attempt to block the nomination for inappropriate political reasons, yet there's also the 2 in 3 who believed that Bush was very likely to appoint someone to the court who would let his or her religious beliefs inappropriately influence his or her legal decisions, as well as the slight majority who believe should the Democrats oppose a nomination based on disagreements of important issues that the Democrats should work to defeat the nomination rather than vote to confirm the nominee.
This making "fools of themselves" can go either way I feel. If the Democrats make their case on his own record, they'll indeed end up looking foolish. But if they make a case on important positions he stands like Roe v. Wade, which a 2-to-1 majority approximately believes shouldn't be overturned, and present how he can be confrontational in light of such things, they may make an important point that he is a dividing figure rather than uniting one and may strengthen the Democrats' point on this administration.
I want the democratic process/investigation to run smoothly so until we learn more, I prefer to keep quiet here, but, again, I hope you recognize and identify where my concerns rest on this sort of nomination.
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"