Robert Bork was "smeared" when he was nominated for the Supreme Court
Robert Bork’s Supreme Court nomination faced bipartisan opposition
Reagan White House officials reportedly acknowledged the controversial nature of Bork’s nomination. According to an October 24, 1987, Washington Post article, White House officials pinned Bork's rejection on his controversial writings and the fact that the Senate largely found him unpalatable:
White House officials emphatically disagree with this assessment, insisting that from Reagan on down the administration made a maximum effort. They acknowledge a serious miscalculation at the outset, when they overestimated the likely importance of Bork's role in the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox and underestimated the importance of Bork's controversial writings as a law professor.
Most important, Bork, who met personally with almost half the members of the Senate, did not persuade the key undecided votes, White House officials said. "The dogs just didn't like the food," said one Bork strategist.
In addition to 52 Democrats, six Republicans voted against Bork’s nomination.