We don't know who President George W. Bush will nominate to succeed Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But this is certain: Democrats will smear the nominee.
It will not matter how personally honorable, how intellectually honest, how legally profound this nominee is. Indeed, the greater the individual, the greater the personal attacks will be.
There are three reasons.
First, Democrats believe that conservatives by definition are bad people. As Howard Dean, the head of the Democratic National Committee recently said, "in contradistinction" to Republicans, Democrats care if children go to bed hungry at night. In most Democrats' minds, conservatives/Republicans do not care if children go to bed hungry, and they are racist, intolerant, regard women as inferior, are stingy and mean spirited, and prefer war to peace.
The reason they see conservatives this way is that most people on the Left are certain that they mean well; therefore their opponents do not mean well. Moreover, liberals tend to assess policy positions on that basis -- are the motives good? -- rather than on the basis of what actually does good.
For example, liberals advocate bilingual education for immigrant children despite the fact that bilingual education hurts immigrant children. It slows learning the language of the adopted country and integrating into it, and thereby hurts their chances for success. Nevertheless liberal educators and politicians prefer bilingual education -- out of compassion for immigrant children (and antipathy to American assimilation). Therefore liberals believe that since compassion leads them to favor bilingual education, only a lack of compassion can explain conservative preference for English immersion.
Likewise in liberal eyes, the Republican/conservative preference for lowering taxes can only emanate from selfishness and apathy toward the poor. And conservative support for the war in Iraq cannot emanate from love of liberty and a moral desire to destroy Islamic totalitarians, but rather from love of oil, commitment to American imperialism and macho adoration of military might.
On issue after issue, Democrats perceive Republicans as not merely wrong, but bad. And when fighting the bad, almost any weapon may be used.
The tactic of choice has been the smearing of conservatives. There are few major conservative political figures whose names have not been sullied by liberals. It began with Judge Robert Bork, reached its nadir with Clarence Thomas and continues to this day.