Advice to the President of the Democratic Leadership Council,

at least assuming the DLC is trying to figure out how to get Democrats elected:

  1. President Bush's likely nominee is not going to be a "right-wing nut," despite how you describe the likely scenario. He or she is going to be a perfectly sane, thoughtful judge whose one great sin is having opinions you disagree with. Left-wing Democrats, or Democrats who are into politics, may enjoy your hyperbole. Most swing voters don't much appreciate it, I think, when one side calls the others' judicial picks "nut[s]." And the more you fall prey to think of your adversaries as nuts, the easier it will be for you to underestimate them and their allies, and to misunderstand those voters who agree with them.

  2. Don't think of the right wing as "paranoi[d]." First, it's false: The right wing is understandably concerned about the future shape of the Supreme Court, as is the left. Rational fear is not paranoia. Second, it's again bad for Democrats: Seeing your adversaries — and the voters who support them — as irrational or stupid makes it harder for you to fight them effectively.

  3. Don't call Justice O'Connor, whom many people (and not just her ex-law clerks) much admire, a "high-class hack" who "join[ed] conservatives when she thought the Court could get away with it, ducking when her political antennae sensed a losing issue." Again, it's both bad politics and not true: You can criticize Justice O'Connor substantively on many grounds (though I prefer that you do it politely), but there's no reason to think that she cared much about what "a losing issue" with which "the Court could[n't] get away with." The times when she joined liberals generally had little to do with what was a winning or losing issue for the Supreme Court; consider most recently her joining them in striking down the Ten Commandments, surely not a way for the Court to gain public esteem.