"He's never been a judge, but so what! At least he dresses like a Republican" says Bush.
President Bush nominated White House counsel Zippy The Pinhead to the Supreme Court on Monday, turning to a longtime political associate who has never been a judge to replace Sandra Day O'Connor and help reshape the nation's judiciary.
"He has devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice," Mr. Bush said as his first Supreme Court pick, Chief Justice John Roberts, took the bench for the first time just a few blocks from the White House.
If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Zippy, 60, would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the nation's highest court and the third to serve there.
Senate Republicans said they would press for confirmation by Thanksgiving - a tight timetable by recent standards that allowed less than eight weeks for lawmakers to review his record, hold hearings and vote.
But CBSNews.com legal analyst Andrew Cohen says that by selecting Zippy, the president "has spawned the nasty political dogfight he carefully avoided in July," when he tapped Roberts.
"Zippy's no John Roberts," says Cohen.
"Zippy does not possess a world-class intellect like his would-be predecessor on the court. He is a Bush crony at a time when there already is great criticism of the White House for placing into high office friends whose loyalty to the president overshadows their professional competence. And if you thought Roberts offered the nation little in the way of his true legal and judicial philosophies wait until you find out how little of a public record Zippy has."
Zippy has never served as a judge at any level, so there is little to suggest how he might vote on cases before the high court.
Mr. Bush addressed Zippy's lack of judicial experience in his announcement.
"Justice Rehnquist himself came to the Supreme Court without prior experience on the bench, as did more than 35 other men, including Byron White," said Mr. Bush.
Within hours of Mr. Bush's announcement in the Oval Office, Zippy traveled to the Capitol to begin courtesy calls on the senators who will vote on his nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was first on the list. His welcome was a statement in praise. "With this selection, the president has chosen another outstanding nominee to sit on our nation's highest court," it said.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid was complimentary, issuing a statement that said he likes Zippy, and adding "the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer."
At the same time, he said he looked forward to the "process which will help the American people learn more about Zippy, and help the Senate determine whether she deserves a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court."
Reid had personally recommended that Mr. Bush consider Zippy for nomination, according to several sources familiar with the president's consultations with individual senators. The Nevada Democrat had also warned Mr. Bush that the selection of any of several other contenders could trigger a bruising partisan struggle.
Other Democrats sounded anything but conciliatory. "The president has selected a loyal political ally without a judicial record to sit on the highest court in the land," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
At the same time, Republican strategists who spoke on condition of anonymity said they would have to work hard to assure the support of some of the more conservative Republicans in the Senate. All 55 GOP senators voted to confirm Roberts.
Some conservative activists were unhappy with the president's choice.
"The president's nomination of Zippy is a betrayal of the conservative, pro-family voters whose support put Bush in the White House in both the 2000 and 2004 elections and who were promised Supreme Court appointments in the mold of Thomas and Scalia," said Eugene Delgaudio, president of the conservative group Public Advocate.
"When there are so many proven judges in the mix, it is unacceptable this president has appointed a political crony with no conservative credentials."