Another gem from Kevin Williamson, A National State of Non-Emergency in National Review:
But the rules of the game are not all there is to the game. What in another context might be called “sportsmanship” is in politics a question of prudence and even of patriotism, forgoing the pursuit of every petty partisan advantage made possibly by the formal rules of the legislative and political processes in deference to the fact that governance in a democratic republic requires a very large degree of cooperation and forbearance. The progress from Robert Bork to Merrick Garland is a fairly obvious story, but there is more to it than that: The increasing reliance upon legislative gimmicks such as omnibus spending bills and retrofitting legislation to fit with the budget reconciliation process, the substitution of executive orders and open-ended regulatory portfolios (“the secretary shall . . . ”), the prominence of emergency “special sessions” in the state legislatures, the absence of regular order in the legislative and appropriations process — all are part of the same destructive tendency. Procedural maximalism in effect turns the legislative system against itself, substituting the exception for the rule and treating every ordinary item of business as a potential emergency item.
The Democrats did not filibuster Bork’s nomination — at the time, their numbers in the Senate were enough to secure their victory without a filibuster. But the course they set in those hearings — one of maximal confrontation, of reaching for whatever procedural cudgel is close at hand — led directly to our current state of governmental dysfunction. As always, judgment matters: One may appreciate that the existence of the filibuster is prudent and desirable without wishing to see it used on every potentially controversial nomination or piece of legislation. It is perfectly acceptable to believe that Robert Bork had the wrong idea about the Constitution, but it is another thing entirely to treat as a national crisis the fact that a judicial nominee has ideas at odds with Joe Biden’s ideas — or with Joe Biden’s ambitions.