Sotomayor's Senate Critics Give a Dreadful Performance

Wrapping up his final round of questions, Graham told Sotomayor that he thought she was “able, after all these years of being a judge, to embrace a right that you may not want for yourself; to allow others to do things that are not comfortable to you, but for the group they're necessary.”

In other words, Graham was arguing, judges need to be able to empathize with people who are demanding their rights even if not so naturally inclined. They have to be ready to recognize that people have certain rights even if they would never claim those rights for themselves. A question like that comes from fear. Graham knows that Sotomayor’s politics are left-of-center and far to the left of his own, something that he alluded to several times during the hearings. He’s obviously afraid that Sotomayor, once she’s on the Supreme Court, will not show sufficient (what’s that word?) empathy to those pushing conservative causes. And so here he implores her to do so.

Finally, accepting -- at last -- the idea that Sotomayor is more judge than activist, Graham said that he didn't think she would use the law to change America. Besides, he said, “I think and believe, based on what I know about you so far, that you're broad-minded enough to understand that America is bigger than the Bronx, it's bigger than South Carolina.”

After 17 years on the federal bench, and four days of showing restraint and suffering fools, Sotomayor surely understands that America is bigger than the Bronx. What we should worry about is whether Graham and other GOP senators, given their dreadful performance in these hearings, understand that America is bigger than the constituency they represent.

It’s not clear they do, which goes a long way toward explaining why that constituency isn’t getting any bigger.