Michael: O'Crap!O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court. This is going to be bad. Everyone was expecting Rehnquist's retirement; that would have been cake. Replace one right wing ideologue with another - no problems. Court stays the same and there's no fireworks over confirmation of a new Justice, though Bush trying to give Scalia the cute stripey robe might cause a few heads to be knocked.
But O'Connor is a swing vote and a relative moderate. Replace her with a wing nut and you have a very different court, indeed. There is no doubt that to keep the balance of the court the same the Senate can only confirm someone as moderate as O'Connor.
The good news is that Bush has no hand with the Senate now. He can't even get Moondoggie Bolton confirmed for a prissy little Ambassadorship. The liklihood of getting confirmed whatever shambling mound of conservatism he chooses for the Court are slim. Bush just might have to compromise and choose a moderate Republican as Sen. Harry Reid suggested at the close of the SC session.
But that would be the smart and sane thing to do. The GOP, and Bush in particular, have a terrible prediliction for over-estimating both their own power (which is considerable, I grant) and the popularity of their choosen fights among mainstream Americans (which is abyssmal, I allege). Given their deadly combination of power-drunkeness and a tendency to over-estimate their own electoral attractiveness, the GOP has a high potential for hitting on nominees way above their league. When they are stumbling around half-mad on power, trying desperately to close the deal, they may be tempted to slip Lady Justice a roofie to smooth the consummation, and then we had all better watch out - the aforementioned fireworks may fly.