Miguel Estrada -- the talented conservative Latino judge who Democrats famously blocked from being appointed to the DC Circuit (and thus, the Supreme Court) -- has come out and endorsed Elena Kagan's nomination. This "may have the bizarre result of fueling suspicion from some on the left who worry that Kagan is a right-winger in Dem's clothing." I don't think this is bizarre at all, and part of me thinks it might be calculated. There are plenty of liberals grumpy over the Kagan nomination (I'm relatively neutral on the matter). But Republicans can't block her -- they already know she'll be confirmed. So they have two choices.
First, they can wage a furious but futile battle against the Solicitor General, hopefully riling up their base in the process. And that would be the standard tactic. But it seems relatively superfluous -- the GOP base is plenty riled, and there are plenty of things to be done between now and November to keep them riled. Meanwhile, the standard Republican temper tantrum is the best way to pave over the fissures that are developing over the nominations. Liberals may not like Kagan, but they'll be reminded of how insane Republicans are, and for the past few cycles "Republicans are batshit crazy" has been the best mobilizing tool the Democrats have ever had.
Alternatively, they can recognize the writing on the wall, and give her a nice reception, and a healthy confirmation margin. What will happen? Well, the Republican base might pitch a fit. But, as I said, they'll get over it between now and November. And in the meantime, they'll have scored two essential victories. First, they'll be able to claim the high ground on the judicial confirmation fight. Right now, it is buried in a mishmash of "he started it". If Republicans can say, quite plausibly, "Obama nominated one of his top choices -- not a compromise -- a solid, unabashed liberal whom we could have attacked over (among other things) the Solomon Amendment, and we confirmed her with virtually no fuss", they will be in a dominant position the next time they're occupying the Oval Office (not to mention if Obama ever gets the chance to nominate a true liberal's liberal).
But second, and more importantly, Republican behavior like this would crack the left wide open. Liberals are already suspicious that Kagan is our own version of Souter. If Republicans treat her like they think she's the best gift that ever happened to them with this President and this Senate, there will be no containing the internal strife. The liberal base will be demoralized, perhaps irrevocably, and the already pro-GOP fundamentals will lead them to a rout. And the sacrifice? Justice Kagan, who, to reiterate, will be on the court anyway. Oh, and maybe a slightly less reared-up Republican base -- but if they take back the House, who cares if the base is happy or sad about it?