The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around. Given the overemphasis on admittedly ambiguous speeches Miers made more than a decade ago, conservative activists will find it difficult to take on liberals in their parallel efforts to destroy some future Robert Bork....The problem with Miers is that she was glaringly underqualified, and I opposed her on this ground. But much of the opposition expressed a demand that the candidate meet ideological requirements, and Hewitt is right that legitimating this kind of criticism will give weight to the ideological problems the Democrats will have with a demonstrably Scalia-like nominee. So the right's opposition to Miers could have some effect on the ability of Bush to put forward the kind of nominee they want. Still, the Democrats will object to a strong conservative anyway, and if Miers had gone on the Court, that would have been a very real consequence with powerful effects.
The next nominee - even one who is a superb scholar and sitting judge who recently underwent Senate confirmation like Michael McConnell of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, or a long-serving superstar like Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit - will face an instant and savage assault. After all, it "worked" with Ms. Miers. A claim of "special circumstances" justifying a filibuster will also be forthcoming.
More later. I've got to run and do that radio show.