The nomination of a relatively unknown Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court has generated a lot of emotion in conservative circles. Many people wonder why Bush, who promised to nominate judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, is nominating stealth candidates. First it was John Roberts who had a slim record to replace Rehnquist. Then Bush nominated Harriet Miers who has little to no public record to replace O'Connor.
Conservatives, who have not been pleased with the history of stealth candidates in the past, reacted with indignation at yet another stealth candidate who we are told is a conservative but there is no proof. Just trust Bush.
Assuming that Miers is in fact a conservative (and that is an assumption, I admit), and I'm beginning to think she's Scalia with ovaries, nominating someone and hiding that fact sends a pretty bad message. When Clinton nominated Ginsburg, everyone knew what she was. When Bush nominates conservatives, the fact that they are has to be hidden. Membership in the Federalist Society is conceded as akin to membership in the Ku Klux Klan. Conservativism is not a crime, it is not a mental disorder, and it is not a moral failing. It is an intelligent and thought out political philosophy.
That aside, I think the White House planned things this way. By nominating a candidate that would upset conservatives, it puts the Democrats in an interesting position. Criticism is labeled as sexist and therefore puts pressure on Democrats to vote for the candidate just for PR points against Republicans. It has virtually taken the filibuster off the table (as long as nothing changes). Miers will slip onto the court without a fight on her, but a fight on the criticism of her. It is a political calculation of expediency to slip her onto the court and get a solid conservative there while disarming Democrats to stop it. Bush doesn't want a filibuster fight, so they took this route.