There are times when liberals need to be scolded. The confirmation process of Attorney General Michael Mukasey is one of those times.
Right-wing conservatives are often holier-than-thou and all-or-nothing partisans. Some liberal critics of Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California fit that profile regarding Mukasey.
The two, as members of the Judiciary Committee, voted to confirm Mukasey, thus assuring his confirmation by the full Senate.
The critics, mostly outside the hallowed walls of the Senate, jumped all over the two senators. It was not their finest day in op-eds and blogs.
A former federal judge with a reputation for fairness, Mukasey was breezing to confirmation until he was asked about waterboarding as a form of torture. Mukasey hedged. He ripped the practice but avoided labeling it torture, possibly because of legal culpability.
You would think that he had gone around the bend. Here is a reasonable successor to the totally incompetent Alberto "I Don't Recall" Gonzales, and some senators balked. Waterboarding of prisoners is wrong, but it should not have been used as the sole excuse for defeating Mukasey's nomination.
Did the opposition think the president would name a better man or woman than Mukaskey? Given Bush's usual temperament, the next nominee would really be flawed.
On the Senate floor, Mukasey garnered little support from Democrats, some of them apparently cowed by the piling-on of Mukasey.
Mukasey will be in office for 14 months. The Justice Department is a shambles and low on morale after the miserable tenure of the president's Texas buddy Gonzales.
I'll wager that some Democrats, at the end of Bush's term in January 2009, will say that Mukasey was all right under the circumstances.