AFTER O'CONNOR: If President Bush wants to restore his flagging support at the GOP core, while at the same time taking a historic stand for civil rights, he'll move Janice Rogers Brown to the top of his short list. Qualifications? She's served as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court. Human interest? A child of divorce, she put herself through law school as a single working mother. Her family was involved in the voting rights movement in Alabama and became liberal Democrats. And she's black — and not just a little conservative. She's given more than a few provocative speeches, choice quotes from which will serve as fodder for her Senate opponents, including a guy named Ted Kennedy — who not that long ago sat in judgment of a guy named Clarence Thomas for committing the unpardonable crime of thinking conservative while black. Oh, how I would savor watching the civil rights and feminist establishments train their sights on this independent-minded black woman. One can only imagine what kinds of arguments would be mustered by the cacophany that so regularly condemns Bush for not caring about black people. On an practical note: I hope there's serious head counting going on among Bush's political tacticians, who need to be certain the president has the votes to change Senate rules if — make that when — the Democrats, including former Ku Klux Klansman Robert Byrd, who filibustered the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act for more than 14 hours — opt to use similar maneuvers to keep his next nominee from getting an up or down vote. If he taps Brown, it wouldn't be the first time she's faced a stacked deck. "Diversity is one of the strengths of the country," the president said today. Right on. Do it, Mr. President. Do it.