I fear this nomination will serve several purposes:
1. It will reunify the GOP to some extent by bringing the fringe elements back on board, and
2. the resulting conflict will bog our government down just enough that the GOP will start calling the Democrats the "party of obstruction" again, letting the right-wing spin machine get back into gear, and
3. worst of all by far, an approval of such a nominee would shift the Supreme Court significantly to the right, possibly for decades.
Supposedly a doctrinaire conservative nominee is what the righties wanted, especially the religious folks who want to overturn Roe v. Wade. Harriet Miers was probably one of them, but they just couldn't be sure, so she stepped down and a known quantity was chosen as her replacement. I think that for them, it mostly boils down to abortion, but I don't understand why the Republican party itself should want to end abortion rights. If they do, what will the "Religious Right" (which is neither) have to harp about? I guess if these far-right Republicans felt like they had rid America of abortion, they might next try to rid America of homosexuality, or institute a state religion. Does Bush feel he has to kow-tow to those folks? If so, that's pretty sad... but I think there is more to it than that.
While this new nomination does look like it could help the GOP quite a bit, I nonetheless see it as an illustration of the kind of bad shape the GOP finds itself in these days. I think Bush knows that if he didn't nominate someone with extensive ultraconservative credentials, he could have had the nut wing splitting off from the Republican party and causing lots of damage to the GOP in the 06 and 08 elections by forming their own political party, running their own candidates, etc. Who knows what those folks might do? Many of us lefties suspect they will do whatever it takes to advance their vision of a theocratic society, or at least a society that is less tolerant of things different from them and their ideology.
The "Religious Right" (again, which is neither) forms a minority of the Republican party voters, but it is an extremely vocal minority. The GOP needs that part of the electorate to push them over the top in lots of elections, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So, in what looks like a purely political move, we get a nominee like Alito. Someone who, at age 54 or 55, probably has 20 or 25 good years ahead of him, maybe more... Plenty of years in which to help swing the country's political pendulum far enough to the right that it gets stuck out there somewhere.
On the other hand, while it seems logical that the nomination of Scalito would be a purely political move, I have to doubt that it was purely political in nature... because Bush himself is one of those from that far-right section of his party for which he seemingly bends over. We can speculate about motives all we want, but I think it gets down to this fact in the end.
The thing is, he isn't just bending over for America's conservative religious fundamentalists, he IS ONE OF THEM... and it is the rest of us who are ASSUMING THE POSITION.