Nothing so polarizes the nation as a nomination to the Supreme Court. Advise and consent is often more like divide and confront, rarely eliciting our best debates. "Borking" a candidate has entered the lexicon of tactics for savaging a nominee by exaggerating positions with simplistic slurs, uttered with an attitude and tone of self-righteousness.
It's worth repeating in full Ted Kennedy's famous attack on Robert Bork when he was nominated for the Supreme Court, because it so maliciously misleads by naming those the senator said would be abused by the nominee if his colleagues dared to confirm him:
"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens."
Quite a hysterical mouthful. Kennedy, along with his radical feminist and liberal helpers, successfully poisoned the minds of the judgers of the judge, employing emotion rather than rational understanding of the philosophy on which Judge Bork applied the law. After Bork retired from the spotlight, he retaliated with an exaggeration of his own. He called his book "Slouching Towards Gomorrah," suggesting that the nation was becoming the Biblical city burnt to the ground as punishment for the sins of the people. But we no more risk being exiled to Gomorrah than Robert Bork would bring back segregation.
If the title of his book stretched the degree of our decadence, it also developed a cogent argument that sheds light on the reasons for Sonia Sotomayor's nomination. Unlike Bork, who was nominated because of his brilliance as a lawyer, Sotomayor was chosen for what has come to be called "emotional intelligence," or empathy, an important qualification for a psychotherapist but dubious qualification for a judge.