Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has, as expected, cleared her first hurdle to confirmation, recieving approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee 13-6.
Lindsey Graham was the lone Republican on the committee to vote for Sotomayor. Though not unexpected, Graham’s strategy has raised more than a few eyebrows. The general consensus is that with Graham’s hard questioning, but compromising vote, he is socking away “political capital” for the next time a “controversial” conservative nominee comes before the committee. Given the somewhat prefunctory nature of this whole affair I don’t necessarily mind him leveraging his vote to make a larger political point.
The problem I do have (and have had since the infamous Gang of 14) is that such strategies give far too much credit to those on the other side of the aisle. Storing away “political capital,” favors in the “favor bank,” etc. assume the other side is going to honor such political niceties. And if the history of the judicial confirmation process has shown us anything, from Judge Bork to Justice Thomas, it’s that when conservative nominees are at the plate, liberals are playing hardball (if not dirty pool), while conservatives are lobbing softballs.