What a difference a week makes! Last week, liberals were expecting big things.

On Friday, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was supposed to indict Karl Rove. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were going to be named unindicted co-conspirators. Maybe Condoleezza Rice, too! Who knew? Maybe even Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

It was going to be Fitzmas Day! (Which is much like Christmas except instead of having her baby in a manger, the woman has a late-term abortion.) Oh, it was hard to fall asleep on Fitzmas Eve!

But Friday came, and only Irve Lewis Libby was accused of committing any crimes. They were all crimes like perjury and obstruction of justice, personal to Libby, unrelated to the administration.

Fitzmas sucked. Instead of GI Joe and Mr. Machine, all Democrats got was a lousy cardigan sweater.

With the Democrats still reeling from Friday’s bad news, Bush gave them a right-hook by nominating the stunningly qualified Judge Sam Alito on Monday. (So I guess not all qualified candidates for the Supreme Court turned Bush down before he nominated Miers.)

Not only is Alito qualified, but he also does not consider membership in the Federalist Society comparable to joining the Klan. In other words, this was just the sort of judicial nominee that would have terrified the White House a month ago.

Judge Alito’s dear 90-year-old mother — who evidently had not yet been briefed by White House political consultants to avoid stating positions popular with Americans — immediately said of her son, “Of course he’s against abortion.”

As a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito voted to uphold a Pennsylvania statute passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor that required women to notify their husbands before getting an abortion. (This was later deemed an “undue burden” by liberals’ favorite “conservative” justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.)

There is no question about Alito’s qualifications. Liberals can only oppose him for his record, which will alarm a narrow segment of lunatics commonly known as “the Democratic Party base.”

Now that timid Republicans have been forced to face their fears, it turns out that liberal America was always a paper tiger. Americans are not rising in righteous anger at a judicial nominee who upheld a law requiring husbands to be notified of their wives’ abortions.

The only people attacking Alito for his abortion ruling are the usual nuts: Planned Parenthood, NARAL, People for the American Way and senators from New York and California (what CBS thinks of as “the American heartland”).

So confident are the Democrats about the popularity of their stance on abortion that the day after Alito’s nomination, Senate Democrats shut down the Senate so they wouldn’t be forced to talk about Alito.

Minority Leader Harry Reid dramatically invoked an obscure Senate rule to close the Senate for two hours, putatively in order to rehash old arguments about the Iraq war in closed session. In pursuit of more government transparency, Reid shut the doors, threw out the public, dimmed the lights, and turned off the TV cameras in the chambers of the U.S. Senate.

That night, the cable news shows were fixated on Reid’s weird stunt — and Senate Democrats narrowly avoided having to talk about Alito’s abortion ruling for one more day.

If this is not a coincidence, let’s see how long it takes Harry Reid to go on TV and state his position on a wife having to notify her husband before getting an abortion. Heck, I’d settle for seeing Harry Reid definitively adopt any position on abortion.

The nuts are perplexed. Why aren’t Senate Democrats screaming from rooftops: “This is a judge who would force women to tell their husbands before having an abortion! Are you people listening?”

Maybe the Democrats aren’t running from their base. Maybe they’re trying to help NARAL by preventing anyone from finding out what NARAL believes. Democrats would prefer for the American people to imagine that a group with the words “abortion” and “rights” in its name is some kind of benevolent little charity that holds bake sales.

Believe me, you don’t want liberals out there reminding the American people that it’s a “constitutional right” to abort a baby five minutes before birth. I gather that People for the American Way thinks it is “the American way” for wives not to tell their husbands about an abortion. But that’s because they need to get out more.

In a 2003 Gallup poll, 72 percent of respondents favored such spousal notification laws. To put it another way, only 28 percent of Americans hold the position that married men have absolutely no reproductive rights whatsoever.

Upward of 60 percent of self-described “liberals” and “Democrats” favored husbands being notified of their wives’ abortions.

If these poll results don’t sound right to you, try crossing Central Park sometime. You’ll find another part of Manhattan that’s not the Upper West Side. Or do something wild and visit Queens — or Staten Island! You won’t even have to leave New York City. See how normal people react to the idea of a woman not having to inform her husband that she’s having an abortion.

In the past few years, the Democrats have had to run from big government, gun control, welfare, criminal rights and gay marriage. With the Alito nomination, it looks like the Democrats are going to have to renounce the NARAL ladies or prepare for another bad day after the 2006 elections.

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