Shortly before last year's State of the Union address I wrote that President Bush is a "uniter", as demonstrated by him receiving an absolute majority of the popular "vote" in the 2004 presidential election.
Sure, we're more polarized than ever, and many Democrats think President Bush is the worst thing since Hitler, but the thing to realize is that President Bush is reducing the number of Democrats. He received nine million more votes in 2004 than he did in 2000, and many of those people were Gore voters who decided to switch sides. Our parties may be more polarized than ever, but because of President Bush more Americans are uniting under the Republican banner than ever before.
I think it's fair to expect presidents to attempt to appeal to everyone in the population, but no one (except Saddam Hussein) can win 100% of the vote. For a politician, winning an absolute majority is about the best that can be expected -- President Clinton was elected twice with mere pluralities, after all.
However, I think it's disingenuous to expect judicial nominees to be "uniters". There are two aspects of being united: the first is that the politician must create a vision that appeals to a broad range of people, but the second is that the people must have desires that are reasonably satisfiable and not mutually exclusive. No politician, no matter how gifted, can unite pro-choicers and pro-lifers, for instance, so one side will ultimately lose. In our system of government, for better or for worse, the side with the fewest number of adherents is the side that loses when interests conflict. In the case of judicial nominees, the President has to nominate someone, and the conflicting desires of the electorate prevent him from unifying everyone with his choice. Those in the minorty should realize that this is how democracy is supposed to work.
But I digress. Critics of the President aren't exactly decrying him for making a divisive nomination, they're denigrating Samuel Alito for not being a "uniter".
Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said later, "I must say that I wish the president was in a position to do more than claim a partisan victory tonight."
"The union would be better and stronger and more unified if we were confirming a different nominee, a nominee who could have united us more than divided us," Mr. Schumer said, according to The Associated Press.
Winning popular approval for your ideas is a political concern, not a legal concern. When the country is united it is generally because the desires of the population happen to line up in a particular way due to circumstance, not because some politician thinks of a brilliant idea that satisfies everyone who used to disagree. Justices, and judges, are expected to rule based on the laws that are created by politicians, not to be politicians themselves.