Reports of the death of the Republican Party appear to have been premature.
Not since Sen. Bob Griffin derailed LBJ's scheme to replace Chief Justice Earl Warren with crony Abe Fortas, before Nixon got to the Oval Office, has the GOP defied this city and voted to reject a liberal judicial activist for the court.
In 1970, after revelations of scandal forced Fortas to resign, Rep. Gerald Ford moved to impeach "Wild Bill" Douglas on similar grounds. Then the fire went out -- for 40 years.
Meanwhile, Democrats trashed Republican nominees Clement Haynsworth, Harrold Carswell and Robert Bork, forced Reagan to withdraw Douglas Ginsburg, and made Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito run an Iroquois gauntlet.
Finally, yesterday, Senate Republicans, defying threats of an Hispanic backlash if they voted to reject the first Hispanic nominee, stood up and said no more EZ passes for any liberal judicial activist.
And this is only the most recent act of defiance by a party that, at long last, seems to have found its conservative compass and to be finding its way home.
Recuperation began when House Republicans stood beside Middle America and rejected the Bush-McCain-Kennedy-Clinton amnesty for illegal aliens, inflicting a humiliating defeat on the establishment.
The next sign of recovery was the decision of John McCain to damn the torpedoes and put Sarah Palin on the ticket. The smashing reception Palin received stunned mainstream media, vaulted McCain into the lead, and signaled the party what America wants it to become again.
The next act of defiance was the Republican rebellion against the $700 billion bank bailout of last September. Though House resistance was swiftly broken, Republican instincts were subsequently proven right.
Next came rock-solid Republican opposition to the mother of all pig-outs, the Pelosi stimulus package. Not one Republican voted for it in the House and only three went over the hill in the Senate. How many Blue Dogs are back home bragging about having supported that beauty?
Then, yesterday, mirabile dictu, the Republican minority in the Senate voted four-to-one to send Sonia back to Greenwich Village.
Wailed retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, "We have allowed ideology to hold a preeminent role as opposed to qualifications. I find it very, very appalling."
But what is truly appalling is the senator's inability to understand what is going in his country.
For decades, a leftist ideology has permeated the Supreme Court. Protected by lifetime appointments, liberal justices have imposed upon this once-democratic republic a social, cultural and moral revolution no Congress could ever have survived imposing and no majority would ever vote for.
Prayer, Bible study, the Ten Commandments were purged from public schools of a nation whose coins bear the inscription "In God We Trust" and whose Constitution never mandated any kulturkampf on the birth faith of the West.
Pornographers were awarded First Amendment protections. Abortion, a crime in every state half a century ago, was declared a constitutional right. New shackles were put on police and prosecutors. The death penalty was outlawed for 20 years because Bill Brennan and friends did not like it. Forced busing for racial balance was imposed, generating white flight, destroying urban schools, and tearing communities apart.
For decades, federal judges and justices were on a rampage. For decades, we lived under a judicial dictatorship.
As for Sotomayor, she was a political activist whose academic and legal career is marked at every step by clamors for raced-based hiring, promotions and admissions. As a judge, she trashed the appeal of Frank Ricci and the New Haven firefighters who had been robbed of promotions they had earned in competitive exams solely because they were white.
She declared the New York state law denying voting rights to convicts a violation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act because it had a disparate impact on minorities, who are overrepresented in prison. Using that yardstick, Justice Sotomayor would have to vote to outlaw the death penalty.
Suddenly, in national politics, the momentum has shifted.
The Republican Party is stirring. Its poll numbers are rising, as support for Obama has fallen to 50 percent in the Quinnipiac Poll, support for his handling of the economy and deficit has fallen into the 40s, and support for his health insurance scheme has plunged to 39.
Of his big initiatives, the stimulus bill is looking like a loser, cap-and-trade may not survive the Senate, and national health insurance may have to be pared back -- or be killed by nervous Blue Dogs.
In both big races three months off, the Virginia and New Jersey governors' contests, Republicans are running 14 points ahead.
As they say in the press box, "Fans, we have a brand-new ball game."
And the reason is that some exasperated Republicans decided to declare independence of the White Houses of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- and "dance with the girl what brung ya."