I'm just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me that the politics of having two Supreme Court vacancies almost necessitates that Bush nominate two very conservative judges. Why? Consider his three options:
(1) Nominate two moderates. Signs a death warrant for Republican senatorial candidates on 2006. No way.
(2) Nominate a moderate and a conservative. This virtually assures that the conservative nominee will be filibustered, no matter how qualified he or she is. Democrats can point to the squishy nominee they’re letting through and then solemnly intone that they aren’t obstructionists, it’s just that they can’t in good conscience vote for the Neanderthal/fascist the president has nominated for the other seat. It’s a win-win proposition for Democrats and a sure loser for Bush.
(3) Nominate two staunch conservatives. If Bush nominates two judges whose conservative views are almost indistinguishable, Democrats won’t be able to oppose one without opposing both. And if they’re opposing two of the president’s nominees, they’ll have an awfully hard time not looking like knee-jerk partisan obstructionists.
Even if the president wanted to nominate a moderate like Alberto Gonzales, having two vacancies makes it very difficult for him to do so. My guess is, having the second seat open turns the Court from being a sticky wicket into a huge winner for Republicans (provided Bush picks smart, clean people).
54 minutes ago