Put yourself in the Machiavellian marching boots of a movement conservative ca. 1988. The Reagan Revolution is in full swing. You are in law school, and dream grand dreams of someday making it onto the Supreme Court: reversing Roe v. Wade, atrophying the government’s right of eminent domain, crushing the right to organize a union, putting God back into the public schools. Putting the pinkos in their place.
You saw what happened to Bork, who is your ideological hero, the previous year. He came off as a radical, so he wasn’t confirmed.
Scalia had a much easier time of it because he was much less noisy about his radical views — though they were probably as radical as Bork’s.
And so you resolve to lay low: to produce no paper trail that might offend the non-radically-conservative members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to do everything right, to cultivate an image as a moderate conservative as you work your way up the federal bench even as those who need to know, know perfectly well what you actually intend, which is to crush all liberal jurisprudence under your strictly constructed fist.
Mr. DeMille, you are now ready for your closeup: 45 years old, you are now the perfect candidate to become President George W. Bush’s next appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, to serve and protect the Constitution of the United States all the way through the year 2044.