I've written before that Sen. Richard Lugar's votes in favor of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan are among the most important evidence that the senator has not really been a good soldier in the war of ideas. He continued to play by the old-school gentlemen's rules dictating that the president's picks are given deference. But the rules of the game have become tougher and much nastier. There is no indication the other side is going to go back to the old rules, so Lugar's insistence on honoring them amounts to unilateral disarmament.
Here is someone who agrees with me:
Even in the aftermath of the Bork and Thomas hearings, Republican senators continued to invoke the principle of deference to the president, as they voted overwhelmingly in favor of President Clinton’s nominations of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (confirmed 96-3) and Stephen Breyer (87-9*) in 1993 and 1994. But conservatives came to recognize that a unilateral, unreciprocated embrace of that deference model amounted to abject surrender in the battle over the courts, and most Republican senators saw fit to change course. But not, alas for him, Senator Lugar.
But here's someone who takes a different view:
The social norm against blocking qualified, mainstream Supreme Court nominees is one of the few remaining weapons the Republican Party has left lying on the ground. But if Republican senators attribute Lugar’s defeat even in part to those votes for Kagan and Sotomayor, which seems to be the case, what incentive do they have to vote for another Obama nominee? And then what will happen if he gets another vacancy to fill – will Republican senators allow him to seat any recognizably Democratic jurist? Especially as the Supreme Court interjects itself more forcefully into partisan disputes like health care, will it become commonplace for the Court to have several vacancies owing to gridlock, for the whole legitimacy of the institution to collapse?
I probably don't need to say that the first post quoted was from a conservative and that the second one was from a liberal, a gentle soul who never mentions once that both sides have been waging ideological war over court nominations. Gosh darn it, that rotten old partisan divide that's destroying us would go away if the conservatives would just shut up and let us do all the things we want to, which really are quite reasonable and not at all partisan, as every right-thinking American udnerstands.