The Democrats may have fostered this by their refusal to allow some of the Bush nominees to ascend to the federal bench. This tactic being used by the GOP is an escalation in this same skirmish, and it's one that seems to be less principled than that used by the Dems in years past, but on the other hand, one could argue that the fact that the filibuster had not been used as they used it before that time was itself unprincipled and was an effort on the part of the Dems to affirm their moral superiority at a time when they were very much out of power. Still, that was then. McConnell and those going along with this in the Senate are surely going forward on the assumption that this is not an issue to which the public pays attention, such that they gain the advantage of holding up the president's nominees and creating a headache for him without paying any political price. Moreover, they assume they're going to come back and win big next November. It could easily go that way for them, but if it goes the other way and the Democrats maintain their present position or even gain seats, the GOP will be in serious trouble, because Obama and the Democrats will be in a strong position going into the 2012 election. This would make the GOP look even weaker, more juvenile, and more ineffectual. While I wouldn't mind seeing the Dems gain power this decade, the republic benefits from having a credible opposition party, and the GOP will not be in much position to do that if they continue to do nothing but obstruct and complain.