Thomas Sowell

 While it would have been wrong to obstruct the Senate from voting on Judge Ginsburg, there was no need for the Republicans to vote for her themselves. If they thought that such cooperation would be reciprocated when their party controlled the White House and the Senate, events have shown that they were sadly mistaken.

 Democrats understand that they were elected to do what those who elected them wanted. But Republicans seem to think they were elected to make deals with Democrats and gain media applause for doing so.

 Senate Democrats are a united minority, while Senate Republicans are a divided majority, with prima donnas and opportunists ready to leave their fellow Republicans in the lurch when a showdown comes -- even if that means risking the whole party's loss of support among voters who feel betrayed.

 That is the hand that President Bush has been dealt.

 Harriet Miers was his attempt to make the best of that weak hand. Now his conservative base, having rejected Ms. Miers, expects him to nominate someone with a clearly established track record of upholding the Constitution as it was written.

 But does the Republican "majority" in the Senate have the guts for the battle that such a nomination would surely set off? Are they prepared to put up a fight and be satisfied with a victory on a close vote, with perhaps Vice President Cheney breaking a tie?

 Or is looking "statesmanlike" in the liberal media more important to some Republican Senators, either for its ego boost or for its practical political value in running for re-election or for the Presidency in 2008?

 Politically, these can be "times that try men's souls" -- for those who still have souls and haven't sold them.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate