Kent noted that confirmation nastiness has spread outside Washington, DC. But it certainly had its origin there. The origin, specifically, was the Ted Kennedy-led, gutter-level attack on Robert Bork.
Twenty four years ago tomorrow, Bork was voted down simply because he was a conservative. He was, however, superbly qualified for the Court. He was a law professor at Yale, a former Solicitor General, and a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. It was to prove to be a preview of the even more appalling "high tech lynching" of Clarence Thomas -- although, quite fortunately, that one failed.
The New York Times, of all things, has an op-ed spelling out, in straightforward terms, just how ruthless and unprincipled the attack on Bork was. If a Republican wins the Presidency next year, and there is a Supreme Court vacany during his term, the scandalous nature of the attack on Bork is, I fear, something we will all have to remember -- and be prepared to fight.