Final Thoughts for the Evening
The impact of today's filibuster is hard to predict, but the key will, of course, be how much media exposure it gets. With so many other Big Stories (N. Korea's new missile, Iraq's illegal missile [which is not really news], the Bin Laden tape, shuttle findings), it will almost certainly be drowned out, left to rot somewhere in the middle of the front section of most of the major papers.
The Democrats must do everything in their power to raise the profile of this thing, because the tactics adopted by the Republican members of the Senate tonight will almost certainly backfire. Sure, the True Believer Republicans will agree that the Democrats are indeed racist for trying to block Estrada, but most reasonable people -- most importantly, Hispanics themselves -- will see this as a cynical attempt to use Estrada's ethnicity to push their own agenda. No matter how loudly the GOP protests, they simply have no credibility when it comes to racial issues, and it was a serious error to try to take on the Democrats on their own turf (although it does give a good indication of just how weak the GOP perceives the Democrats to be).
Will the mainstream media cover this fairly? Who knows. But if they cover it only half-heartedly, we all know that the GOP spin machine will take it and run with it, and it's hard to get a bone out of that dog's mouth. The Republicans were on the ropes tonight, at least as far as facts and composure were concerned, and if the Democrats have the good sense -- and the will -- to mount a full scale media offensive over this, and kick them when they're down, they just might end up with both a blocked nomination and a good clean political hit on the administration.