Robert Novak writes that the point of the confirmation battle isn't to stop or ensure Roberts's appointment, but to determine who the next appointee will be. If a relatively soft nominee like Roberts can get only sixty votes, what chance is there for another Scalia? So NARAL is pulling out all stops to take as many votes as they can, even if it is hurting their credibility, and even though they know they can't win. Their purpose is just to make it a close call. According to Novak, that was the point of the filibusters also.
I think he may be onto something here. I also think it's worth pointing out a major mistake that conservatives have made with respect to the Roberts nomination: we've been too reasonable. What has Bush learned from this nomination? He has learned that he can nominate someone who is just barely credible for keeping far as his pre-election promises about judicial nominees and the conservatives will give him the benefit of the doubt and the leftists will still be furious but they won't go toenail-chewing insane.
So what motivation does Bush have to nominate a genuine solid conservative the next time? He can, as always, minimize the acrimony by disappointing his supporters and catering to his enemies. That's what being reasonable in politics gets you. I'm beginning to wish that conservatives had followed Ann Coulter's lead and pounded on Bush for his weak nomination. Even if you think Roberts is OK, we can and should demand better than OK. We control the presidency and both houses of Congress. We should show no more concern for the sensibilities of the Democrats than they have shown for ours. Namely, none.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and conservatives just don't squeak loud enough. We are too willing to compromise, to willing to be reasonable. And the other side, with their complete and utter contempt for civil discourse will always end up getting a better deal than their position calls for and we will always end up getting a worse deal than our position calls for. That's part of the reason that we have such an outrageously leftist federal court system even though we have had Republican presidents for 25 of the last 37 years. By all rights, our current judiciary should reflect Republican values, but it clearly doesn't.
I don't know what the solution is. I don't want to give up our attempts to have civil political discourse, but we need to start creating penalties for those who use rage and threats and slander as their primary political weapon. A good start would have been to eliminate the filibuster for appointments. But once again, Republicans decided to ignore the incivility of the Democrats and be unilaterally civil. I'm getting pretty tired of it.