"Was that a surprise?" asked U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday night after the pseudo-drama of the reality-show-style bakeoff between two finalists whittled down from a list of 21. Well, no. Trump's Supreme Court pick was resoundingly predictable. I say that simply because I did predict the selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch back on Nov. 16 — based on his close fit to the profile sought by conservative legal elites.

There was nothing very deep about my prediction. Having promised to leave the decision to the Federalist Society, Trump did exactly that. He gave them an intellectual who went to Harvard Law School like Justice Antonin Scalia (and five other members of the current court); studied in Oxford as a Marshall scholar like Justice Stephen Breyer; clerked on the Supreme Court like three other sitting justices; and has been reliably conservative for years. He even looks like the TV version of a Supreme Court justice, complete with silver hair and a firm jaw.

Now comes the Democrats' challenge: Should they filibuster Gorsuch, who is conservative but not necessarily an ideologue? If they do so, and try to depict him as "out of the mainstream" — and fail to block him if Senate Republicans use the nuclear option to end the filibuster — they run the risk of alienating him and driving him further to the right.