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I already mentioned this in the Feingold post below, but it merits its own space: The brief Alito filibuster is already over, with nineteen Dems voting for cloture. There are a lot of blogs calling for the heads of the “Vichy Dems” right now, and, true, they’re not looking too good right now. But, frankly, neither is anyone else. The whole thing reeks of mismanagement and rank opportunism across the party.

I’m with Walter Shapiro: “In hindsight, the battle was effectively over after the first day of the Senate hearings when the criminally verbose Judiciary Committee Democrats failed to sustain a clear and consistent anti-Alito argument with all those cable networks broadcasting live. When politicians and interest-group leaders know that they are going to lose, they automatically retreat to a can-I-get-anything-out-of-the-wreckage calculus. So moderate senators from red states like South Dakota’s Tim Johnson decide that they can buttress their independent credentials with home-state conservatives by supporting Alito, since the outcome would be the same no matter how he voted. Groups like People for the American Way realize that shrill calls for a filibuster might preserve their fundraising base even if their years of urgent appeals to prevent a right-wing Supreme Court takeover failed to change a single Senate vote. And Kerry — whose late entry into the anti-Alito fray can be partly excused by his not serving on the Judiciary Committee — is also aware that such dramatic gestures help him maintain an up-to-date, ready-for-’08 e-mail list of Democratic activists.”

At any rate, the silver lining of this judicial nightmare (other than Judge Kennedy’s potential unpredictability) is that tomorrow, after Alito is voted through and Dubya gives his State of the Union, the GOP are officially out of good news. From tomorrow on, all the stories on tap, the continuing Iraq quagmire notwithstanding, are hearings and investigations — into the NSA wiretaps, into Abramoff, into Plamegate, into Katrina. So let’s pick ourselves up off the floor and get it together — We’ve got serious questions to ask of this administration, and, more importantly, we’ve got ourselves an election in nine months.

Omsbudsdog Emeritus

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