Senate Democrats can't decide which wing of the Democratic Party to represent with regard to the Alito nomination. The liberal left-wing Democrats don't want him confirmed because of his views on civil liberties and concerns that he will swing the court to the right and support an imperial presidency. Moderate Democrats (and especially Democrats facing reelection in November) don't want a fight.

The leadership has taken a stand:

These officials said both [Democratic Minority Leader] Reid and Schumer of New York, who heads the party's effort to gain Senate seats in 2006, have stressed the drawbacks [of a filibuster]. Among them were the certainty of defeat, the impression of political weakness that would convey and the potential impact on candidates on the ballot in 2006 in Republican-leaning states. Both men oppose Alito's confirmation.

Apparently, the best way to avoid appearing weak is to act weak.

On a related note, conservative columnist George Will, writing in support (I believe, sometimes it's hard to tell with him) of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Oregon's assisted-suicide law, wrote:

...an intense Senate minority, or even a single senator, should be a serious, if not always decisive, impediment to a congressional majority imposing its will on all 50 states.

I wonder if he would feel the same about a Democrat-led filibuster of Alito's nomination?

Regardless of all that, I'm afraid I must agree with our right-wing Republican friends on one point. They won, they get to pick judges. If us Democrats want to pick judges, first we have to win. The trouble is, I'm not sure how you win without fighting.

OK, then.

KO's picture

I hate to say it, but the

I hate to say it, but the Republicans appear to be better at fighting.  I think they are better at reducing complex issues to bumper sticker slogans which, unfortunately, seems to win most of the arguments in the public square.  To some degree, I think the apparent disorder within the progressive movement is the result of greater intellectual honesty than that exhibited by the right.  Then again, maybe that's just my lame justification for the mess that is the left.

Alito is going to be a disaster that will be with us for a long, long time.  I just hope Roberts will be a voice of moderation. 

JustJohnny's picture

Senate Democrats = gun shy

Senate Democrats = gun shy bird dogs.

They bark and growl until the shooting starts.

What's up with John Kerry? Does he still think he is running for President? The old guard (loosely borrowed from Fatah) needs to sit down and shut up. The lost last time and the time before that.

Change starts at the local level, I think. We need to elect Democrats to local and state offices in as many red states as possible(like Tennessee). It'll be easier to elect House/Senate/Pres dems then.

Andy Axel's picture

I'm in complete agreement,

I'm in complete agreement, with one little bit of partisan pedantry:

The word "won" belongs in scare quotes, as in...

They "won," they get to pick judges.

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If we heard mortar shells, we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down on guitar solos

Eleanor A's picture

Don't forget

We're responsible for Bill Frist. A point that fills me with fury every time I think about it.

Sorry bastard.

Andy Axel's picture

Brilliant anecdote from

Brilliant anecdote from Salon's War Room just now:

Maybe there's a metaphor in here somewhere.

John Kerry was just on the Senate floor, arguing hard for more time to debate the nomination of Samuel Alito. Kerry called this a "pivotal moment" in American history; he reminded anyone who was listening that Alito was George W. Bush's second choice, forced upon him by the right when Harriet Miers wasn't deemed conservative enough; he said that Alito is the favored son of those in the "ideological wing" of the Republican Party, a man who was nominated to the court "in order to satisfy their demands for an ideological orthordoxy."

Kerry then began to make the case that Alito is insensitive and even hostile to the concerns of working Americans. He started in, case by case, laying out the facts from cases, making his arguments, slowly building a sense of outrage. And then Kerry ... ran ... out ... of ... time.

The parties are alternating hours of floor time in the debate on Alito's nomination, and the Democrats' latest turn was set to end at 1 p.m. EST. At precisely that moment, Kerry was interrupted midsentence and told that his time had expired. He asked for an additional 10 or 15 minutes, but Mitch McConnell, the Republican from Kentucky who was scheduled to speak next, refused to wait while Kerry finished. "I was expecting to speak at 1," McConnell said, "and because of my own schedule, I need to do that."

Kerry said he'd finish later and left the Senate chamber. McConnell spoke for about 15 minutes, then ran out of things to say. Now the Republicans' time is still running, but there's no one speaking on the floor at all.

(link...)

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If we heard mortar shells, we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down on guitar solos

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