At the time, liberal historian David Garrow predicted that if the Democrats blocked Estrada, they would be "handing Bush a campaign issue to use in the Hispanic community."
Alas, today Democrats can't really place Estrada -- James Carville confuses him with that other Hispanic, Alberto Gonzales. On MSNBC they laugh about his obscurity, asking if he was the cop on "CHiPs." They also can't recall the name "Anita Hill." Nor can anyone remember African-American Janice Rogers Brown or what the Democrats did to her.Only the indignities suffered by Justices Taney and Brandeis still burn in liberal hearts!
So when Republicans treat Sotomayor with respect and Sen. Lindsey Graham says his "hope" is that "if we ever get a conservative president and they nominate someone who has an equal passion on the other side, that we will not forget this moment," I think it's a lovely speech.
It might even persuade me if I were born yesterday.
But Democrats treat judicial nominations like war -- while Republicans keep being gracious, hoping Democrats will learn by example.
Sen. Teddy Kennedy accused Reagan nominee Robert Bork of trying to murder women, segregate blacks, institute a police state and censor speech -- everything short of driving a woman into a lake! -- within an hour of Reagan's announcing Bork's nomination.
To defend "the right to privacy," liberals investigated Bork's video rentals. (Alfred Hitchcock, the Marx Brothers' movies and "Ruthless People" -- the last one supposedly a primer for dealing with the Democrats.)
Liberals unleashed scorned woman Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas in the 11th hour of his hearings to accuse him of sexual harassment -- charges that were believed by no one who knew both Thomas and Hill, or by the vast majority of Americans watching the hearings.
But when the tables were turned and Bill Clinton nominated left-wing extremist/ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republicans lavished her with praise and voted overwhelmingly to confirm her, in a 96-to-3 vote. (Poor Ruth. If Sotomayor is confirmed, Ginsburg will no longer be known as "the hot one in the robe.")
The next Clinton nominee, Stephen Breyer, was also treated gallantly -- no video rental records or perjurious testimony was adduced against him -- and confirmed in an 87-to-9 vote.
As Mrs. Sam Alito can attest, the magnanimity was not returned to Bush's Supreme Court nominees. She was driven from the hearings in tears by the Democrats' vicious attacks on her husband's character. The great "uniter" Barack Obama voted against both nominees.
Even Justice Ginsburg recently remarked to The New York Times that her and Justice Breyer's hearings were "unusual" in how "civil" they were.
Hmmm, why might that be?
To the extent that the Sotomayor hearings have been less than civil, it is, again, liberals who have made it so, launching personal attacks against the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, and even the fireman whose complaint started the Ricci case.
But it was a nice speech.