As I said at Blanton's, natural disaster and death of "natural causes" are preventing Bush from being the Lame Duck we all thought he'd become.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist died last night, opening yet another seat on the court for Bush to fill. This is all happening just days before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin hearings on the confirmation of John G. Roberts, the replacement to retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
This could be a pretty good situation for Bush. He was getting limited attacks from the left concerning Roberts, who is bound to be confirmed with a strong majority, and now, even if he nominates an even more conservative judge, the opposition won't be united. Controversial cases such as Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas were so big because the entire political world concentrated on their confirmations. Moreover, the Democrats had substantial majorities in the Senate during those votes, despite many defectors during the roll call. In fact, 10 Democrats voted for Clarence Thomas, who won confirmation by 3 votes.
Whoever Bush nominates can't be much farther to the right than Rehnquist was. Although Alberto Gonzalez has served as President Bush's virtual attorney for five years, from what I've heard about his record as a justice in Texas, he might be more open minded than other candidates.