Well, if you start with the assumption that a Warren nomination battle will "change the narrative"...
But as I mentioned before it won't. Everyone will concentrate on the 2-3 dems who have objections, while giving the 41 republicans a pass. So the narrative will remain "dems infight and bicker amongst themselves, and can't get anything done in a timely manner."
Big problem with this line of argument is that Warren herself seems pretty happy with the position. She was under no obligation to take it, if she believed it was just window-dressing she could and would have refused. I somehow doubt she is party of the sinister conspiracy to shaft liberals.
A drawn-out confirmation battle may have made for great politics - but I doubt that would have been great for Democrats. Rather the media attention would not be focused on the 41 Republicans opposed to her, but on the 2-3 Dems who oppose her as well. The D's may have won in the end, but it would not have been pretty or a slam dunk.
And besides, this way she can get started on work right away, and be there for the next 2 years, which would not have been the case with a recess appt or lengthy confirmation battle.
Well as long as your comparing apples to apples Obama's approval ratings are above where both Clinton and Reagan were at this point. Indeed he's right about the post 60's historical average which is pretty good considering we just experienced the greatest recession since ww2. Heaven forbid what will happen should the unemployment recover!
Thus explaining the conservative game plan. Hurt the Country to hurt the President. Very classy guys.
Your confusing legislation vs. rhetoric. In fladem's example, the R senators voted for most of the Reagan agenda (Kemp-Roth, Budget, TEFR, patco etc). They distanced themselves in rhetoric mainly, as much they had too, and even that is generally overstated.
Who wants to bet that once in office the "anti-establishment" will be just the same as the "establishment"? As much as one would like to see a faction in the GOP like the Blue-dogs in the Dem party, it's simply not going to happen. And looking at the list of candidates and their stated positions I can't see much to differentiate them from your normal rabid republican.
Conservatives get so defensive when called out. I mean how hard is it to admit that racism does have some part in the way they view Obama. Bit like o'rielly going into a restaurant and acting all surprised that black people are normal. There is no need to be all PC about it.