Because the assault from the left on the next nominee is going to be so intense, it makes sense to nominate a judge who has recently been vetted and FBI-checked. Fairly recent Senate hearings are also a plus, as they will demonstrate the necessary ability to handle the heat that is on the way.
Because cases coming before the SCOTUS in the near future include some crucial decisions –including an abortion rights blockbuster that will be argued in late November– it is very important to get a nominee for whom hearings can be scheduled immediately.
The Gang of 14 must be denied an “extraordinary circumstances” argument, so a recent nominee that was given a hearing and a vote without a filibuster is to be preferred.
A nominee who has fairly recently filled out all the forms and who has some decisions on record but not too many is to be preferred.
And the nominee should be a “base uniter.”
I think this gets us to Judge Michael McConnell in a hurry.
If, after conversations with Senators Specter and Kyl, there appears to be no way to rush a nomination in time for the crucial cases, then Judge Luttig or Judge Jones are the other obvious choices, but there will be a lot of vetting time necessary for such a detailed review as both have long records of decisions to review, and my guess is as well that each has given many speeches, which is where the left will be expected to look for their ammunition.
Let me be the first to say that whomever the president nominates, he or she deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate.