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Opening Arguments

Just call me partisan, silly

Lots of disagreement out there with my idea that, in voting to affirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Sen. Richard Lugar is playing by the old rules of civility, all but conceding the game to the people playing by the new, tougher rules. The Richmond Palladium-Item, for example, says those who would label Lugar a turncoat or a traitor "offer demonstrable proof of an electorate so rigidly partisan that they have helped to make governing an untenable task."

Yes, Congress long ago exceeded its constitutional mandate of passing judgment on a candidate's qualifications for the office he, or she, is nominated to fill.

The process today is not simply colored by political consideration, but rather immersed in it.

This has become a race to the bottom.

[. . .]

Unless both parties make a conscious effort to elevate the process, the outcome cannot be elevated and sustained on higher ground.

And The Indianapolis Star's Matthew Tully says Lugar's statement announcing his vote was not only filled with common sense "but also lacked the partisan silliness that has overtaken politics of late."

These days, even two senators crossing over on any big vote in D.C. counts as an example of bipartisanship. Of course, it's no surprise that Lugar is one of the few willing to put politics aside and not obsess over how each vote might affect the next election.

Oh, for God's sake. It's not about the next election. It's about how the court will affect our lives for the next generation. If one side is going to fight like hell to get its philosophy represented on the court, it may be "partisan silliness" for the other side to equally fight like hell, but it would be foolish and dangerous to do otherwise. I hate to resort to a military analogy again, but this is like castigating soldiers for being rabid nationalists and applauding the one who throws down his gun, stands up and shouts, "Can't we all just be friends?"

If you don't have an interest in how the contest comes out, it's all very well to stand on the sidelines and cheer for a good, clean, contest with polite bipartisan murmurings of agreement. But if you do -- I certainly do, and I would hope Lugar does -- then having your ideas prevail seems a little more important to me. I also lament the loss of the good old days of deference to the president and a civil examination of the nominee's overall qualifications. And if Luagar's gestdure was likely to bring the other side to its senses, it would be a laudable