Karl Rove's Dying Dream:
The problem has become clear with Bush's difficulties in filling Sandra Day O'Connor's slot on the Supreme Court. The Harriet Miers nomination was an attempt to satisfy both the militant conservative base and the eternally moderate American electorate. With the Alito nomination, Bush has acknowledged that splitting this difference is impossible. Faced with a choice, he has chosen, once again, to dance with the ones who brought him. But by appointing a superconservative, Bush risks propelling his increasingly beleaguered administration even further toward the right-hand margin—a place where his party cannot win future national elections.
Bush aims to be the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan. But he has never understood the genius of Reagan's method, which was to placate the religious right without giving in where it mattered. Reagan could proclaim his undying support for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion without doing anything to endanger Roe v. Wade. (He was the one who nominated O'Connor, remember?) In the same way, Bill Clinton managed to keep liberal interest groups onboard without advancing their politically untenable wish list. But whether because he is less adroit or because he truly believes, Bush seems able to appease his base only by surrendering to its wishes. He has caved to conservatives on Terri Schiavo, on stem-cell research, on Social Security privatization, and on "intelligent design." Now, most important, he is caving by at least creating the appearance that he is trying to get enough votes on the Supreme Court to reverse Roe.