In re. the battle royal presumably building over the Alito nomination, Franklin Foer at the New Republic asks:
"Of course, Bush could have gone right and simultaneously avoided this kind of Battle- of-Somme scenario. Or to re-frame that assertion: Why didn't he nominate Judge Michael McConnell? After all, McConnell would have nearly the same Federalist Society friendly views as Alito. But he would also bring along the endorsement of liberal academia. My best guesses for why he skipped over McConnell: 1) Bush actually needs a bloody confirmation fight. 2) He probably can't stand McConnell's heretical position on Bush v. Gore. 3) McConnell represents the kind of pointy-headed intellectualism that the president can't abide. 4) He's not physically fit enough to deserve a promotion to the highest court in the land."
As one who knows McConnell from our days as colleagues on the University of Chicago law faculty, I can testify that I and many others not from the conservative camp would have supported him. Just because he's a charming and nice person? I don't think it's just that. Rather, my experience with McConnell, and I think that of many others, is that he is a fundamentally fair-minded and honest person intellectually.
I would have bet the house against his being selected however, not only due to # 1 above but # 3. If you hate intellectual merit and achievement, then McConnell is not the man for you.
Can't say I know anything about Alito in this respect. I certainly hope he doesn't share Scalia's abominable lack of anything approaching a judicial temperament.