I know I'm not the only person perplexed and pissed off about this, but I wanted to get it off my chest nonetheless:
WHY did the Senate Democrats cave on Alito when the President's approval ratings are in the toilet? What possible political price did they think they would pay for standing up to an unpopular president?
Worse yet, do they not realize just how much this craven capitulation would disgust and alienate their base? When the Democrats are up for election this year and in 2008, what are they going to campaign on if they can't even say they opposed the Republicans? Are they just going to say that they'll carry out the Republican agenda more competently and efficiently?
I think this was a huge mistake on every level. They've allowed a weak president to push through a hard-right Supreme Court nominee who will sit on the Court for the next 30-40 years. They've (once again) sacrificed their credibility as an opposition party. And when the Alito appointment starts bearing bitter and oppressive fruit, they've forfeited the right to beat the Republicans over the head with him. As with the invasion of Iraq, how can they make an aggressive campaign issue out of something/someone THEY THEMSELVES VOTED FOR?
I just don't understand their thinking, I really don't. I suppose it could be fear of the "nuclear option," but if they never filibuster for fear of the nuclear option, then the nuclear option is already in effect. But by not forcing the issue, they let the Republicans avoid paying any political price at all, either for imposing it, or for conveniently repealing it the second that Democrats retake control of the White House and Senate. Should such a thing ever actually happen.
The only other reason I can think of is some misguided notion of collegiality - that the President is entitled to a large measure of deference in his judicial nominations, but that's just plain stupid. The Republicans have declared war on the Democrats, the Constitution, and most of the American people, and the Democrats still think they're playing a genteel game of badminton or croquet. And they act surprised each time they get kicked in the nuts.
Getting back to electoral considerations: Who do you really think most Americans are going to vote for? The party that fights dirty, or the party that doesn't fight at all? Or, at best, the party that sometimes fights sort-of-halfheartedly if thousands of people scream and yell at them and light their shorts on fire?
It angers and depresses me to see all the dedicated and passionate progressives phoning, writing, and e-mailing their hearts out, trying to influence a sad-sack party establishment that brushes us aside time and time again. It's like watching a swarm of ants and mosquitos trying to turn aside a blind elephant (or very large donkey, as the case may be) lumbering towards the edge of a cliff. Don't get me wrong; I'm very glad that our tribe is fighting - I just wish we didn't have to fight for the attention of our own fucking party. I'll continue voting Democrat and try to do what I can, but only because there is no other viable alternative.
Alito really was it for me - I have lost the last of what little faith I had left in the Democratic party. I now think it's a distinct possibility that they will lose seats this year, and just like in 2002 and 2004, they won't know why. But I will.