"Bush Consultation on Alito: “Zero, Nothing”"
I think you heard from some long-time serving members of the Senate who said that this level of consultation was unprecedented.
The same occured during the lead up to the Miers pick:
We have consulted with over 70 United States senators. That matches the level of consultation that we held for the first vacancy. The level of consultation that we engaged in was unprecedented; we have now matched that.
With Alito’s nomination, however, the White House disregarded the process:
[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid’s tongue was firmly in cheek when describing consultation with the White House about the Alito nomination.
“I really am impressed with the consultation of this nomination. Let me tell you what it consisted of. I was at the Rosa Parks event last night, which was a solemn occasion and very nice. [White House Chief of Staff] Andy Card walked up to me and said I am going to call you at 6:30 in the morning. I said, ‘That is too bad,’ because I knew by then they had already picked someone…. He didn’t call me at 6:30 [but at] about quarter to 7. The conversation lasted maybe 10 seconds. He said, ‘You have already heard?’ I said, yup, and that was it. That is the consultation. With [Judge John] Roberts we had consultation, with [White House Counsel Harriet] Miers we had consultation, with Alito zero, nothing.”
It’s not that President Bush didn’t have the time — he spent last weekend “contact[ing] prominent conservatives to test the reaction to various candidates.”