Some of the biggest headlines and political controversies over the past 6 months have been over confirmation hearings of judges. In April, all the politicians could talk about were filibusters or a "nuclear option". But the Republicans not only control Congress, they control it in a way no party has ever controlled it. Because the Republicans would rather cut off their balls than vote contrary to the President, Republican Congressmen are about as worthless as Presidential Electors. (I'm comfortable saying "balls" because only 28 out of 286, or 9.9% of Republicans in Congress are women. Only 22% of Dems are women, FWIW.) So what options to Democrats really have if they don't like a judge?
In normal times, even if there aren't split majorities in Congress and the White House, some members of each party will cross the aisle to vote against the President's pick. Integrity used to count for something, after all, and each of these Senators and Representatives were elected by local people in their home districts, not selected by the national party office. Extremists of any persuasion were rarely appointed and almost never approved. But today, Republicans are certain to approve anyone that makes it to the floor for a vote. By a unanimous vote. (You know who also used to win by unanimous vote? Saddam Hussein. But I digress.) So what's a Democrat to do without a majority when an incompetent or extremist like Darth Miers or Scalito is nominated?
As it turns out, Dems have a few options. They can vote "No" and complain loudly, either on C-Span or their local news. This option is called, "Preaching to the Choir, but they get to maintain their integrity. They can filibuster, but this option has 2 problems. One is that Americans are not comfortable with the idea of a minority blocking the will of a majority. Despite being one of the pillars of American society from Day 1, it remains unpopular. A filibuster, of course, doesn't allow a minority to pass unpopular legislation. It just keeps majorities from doing so. And there's a limit on the power of a filibuster - minorities in the Senate must have at least 41 participating members - hardly a tiny fraction of the 100 member Senate. But because of its unpopularity, it would be unwise for minority Dems to use this tool too often. Clearly a filibuster would have been used in case Harriet Miers had not resigned her nomination, since she was so unpopular and unqualified. But the Democrats' beef with Scalito is that he's too partisan. They just don't like him. And if they choose to filibuster him, Senate Republicans might just remove filibusters altogether, making the need to ever compromise again on anything non-existent.
So Scalito will most likely be confirmed, barring some revelation of his past in which his wife had an abortion or he accidentally used Jesus's name in vain. So why are the Democrats not using Option #3 - using the confirmation hearings to trash him, trash the Republican opposition, and trash Bush, but not hindering the actual vote? They're wasting their everloving time asking him about precedent and abortion memos and conservative rulings. He's getting confirmed anyway and you know the answers, so why bother asking stupid questions that put even the producers of C-SPAN to sleep? Dems need to ask questions in the vein of, "Are you sorry you beat your wife?" - questions with no good answer designed for public relations value only. Show a little backbone, for goodness sake. (Note: I don't condone asking the man if he's sorry he beats his wife, unless it's actually true) I mean, you have one shot at national press before you shuffle back off into obscurity. Make the American people believe that you believe in something, because for some reason the Rush Limbaughs and Karl Roves of the world have convinced Americans that the people who stand for civil rights and the environment and diplomacy and charity and responsibility don't stand for anything anymore. You're going to lose this battle. Don't quit the war.