David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times provides an interesting analysis, in "Two Nominee Strategies. One Worked," particularly with respect to Monday-morning quarterbacking by the Democrats:
As the last obstacles to confirmation faded away Monday, Democratic aides said their party had initially expected Judge Alito to live up to his reputation as "Scalito," suggesting a conservative firebrand in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia. Failing to adjust to his meekness, Democratic aides admit they searched too hard for scandal in Judge Alito's past.And some gloating by the White House:
The White House, meanwhile, sought to take advantage of Judge Alito's low-key, almost shy demeanor to build sympathy for him. They say they succeeded beyond all expectations when Judge Alito's wife, Martha-Ann, walked out in tears from his confirmation hearings.
"Any time they are yelling, preaching, lecturing, and you are cool and calm and breathing deep, you are winning," the administration official said the White House team told Judge Alito. "What that means on television sets where the American people are watching this is, you look good and they look bad. It was the central operating premise."
And what seems to be an accurate assessment by Senator Reid's spokesman:
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, agreed. "It was a classic rope-a-dope," Mr. Manley said, referring to the boxing tactic of leaning against the ropes to let an opponent exhaust himself punching.
In light of my last two posts on the topic, I don't think that there was much that the Democrats could have productively done here. This confirmation process is broken and needs to be repaired. Toward that end, perhaps another "centrist" group of Senators will coalesce around the idea of agreeing to vote against the confirmation of any nominee who refuses to answer sensible questions about prior about the opinions in prior Supreme Court cases.