S.T. does a nice job of giving us the "what it all means" review of Tuesday's events and I'd like to build on it. The Republican Party has fully lost its fashionable insurgency quality and is stuck with the unatractive prospect of just plain governing. Since Newt left, the GOP has not seemed much like the party of big ideas and the war has, in fact, gone on a lot longer than most expected (certainly at the popular level). Fact is, the GOP is on its heels. There is one saving grace. Unlike the GOP of the 80's and early 90's, the Democratic Party is not flush with exciting policy prescriptions. Nevertheless, the GOP doesn't have much positive force right now. They haven't proven the ability to deliver any of the basic agenda beyond some modest tax cuts. No cut in the size of government, no revolution in social security, no market-driven healthcare reforms, no school choice to speak of . . . just a lot of military action with a steady drip-drip of casualties blown into a flood by an unsympathetic press.
Here's where Alito comes in. The only thing that saved Bill Clinton and the Dems, perhaps, was that they gained sympathy when conservatives appeared overzealous to crush him. A filibuster against Alito would constitute similar overreach and would give people a reason to rally around Bush and the GOP again. The Dems want to keep W. in the uncomfortable place he's been stuck in for a while. They won't offer him the easy way out of emerging as the gallant knight riding to the rescue of the well-qualified and dignified Samuel Alito. He'll be confirmed with just a little more sturm and drang than John Roberts got.