Over at Human Events, John Gizzi confirms what I sensed: the White House can't get any conservative enthusiasm for a Gonzales nomination.
Now, to be clear, I'm assuming the White House actually tried to get conservative opinion-shapers on-board, which would be the obvious move if a Gonzales nomination is a live possibility. If they made the effort, it has failed.
With Rehnquist out, now Bush's decision focuses. As The Supreme Court Nomination Blog rightly points out, this makes the President's decision simpler, but not easier. A side-note: the SCNB seems to buy the conventional "wisdom" that a "ticket" of a conservative and a "moderate" (read: anti-Roe, pro-Roe) would sell.
Assuming the White House is going to try to satisfy a "quota" objective, then it seems it's a choice between a woman and an Hispanic. Which will it be?
Well, my first question is, does the President want to keep the possibility of a Gonzales nomination alive? Because if he chooses an Hispanic, that greatly dampens expectations of a Gonzales nomination; it will be interpreted to mean the Attorney General was passed over.
And regardless of what the President actually wants, what Gonzales wants, I don't see a reason to kill the possibility of a Gonzales nod. If Gonzales is open to the idea, why dampen his hopes? How does it help Bush to take that hope away from Gonzales?
Keeping Gonzales' name in play, if not for this, than the next, keeps the Right, especially prolifers, energized. As long as he could be nominated in the future, they stay interested, and that helps Bush in the confirmation battle.
Plus -- quite contrary to the public message -- it greatly helps Bush that prolifers are making a lot of noise about Gonzales. If he is going to name him anyway, he's going to get this flak, either way; but if wants to name someone more solid -- and hence more controversial -- he has to deal with those in the GOP who dread that move. The complaints from prolifers enable him to shrug his shoulders, and say, "well, I'd like to help you, but what can I do?"
Maybe taking Gonzales off the table helps if he thinks the wave of relief from prolifers will enable him to sneak through a stealth candidate. But I'm doubtful that will work, and besides; not picking Gonzales has pretty much the same effect, doesn't it? So again, why not keep the possibility of naming Gonzales alive?
So, if I'm correct, if the pick isn't Gonzales, I doubt it will be another Hispanic. That means, if it's going to be about getting credit for satisfying an ethnic or gender expectation, then the pick will be a woman.