When the strum and drang starts in the coming hearings on the suitability of John Roberts for the Supreme Court, remember one thing: It started with Watergate.

In the most important column you may read all week, Michael Barone discusses the ongoing project by liberal Democrats to delegitimize Republican administrations:

“This project has been ongoing for more than 30 years,” writes Barone. “Richard Nixon, by obstructing investigation of the Watergate burglary, unwittingly colluded in the successful attempt to besmirch his administration. Less than two years after carrying 49 states, he was compelled to resign. The attempt to delegitimize the Reagan administration seemed at the time reasonably successful. Reagan was widely dismissed as a lightweight ideologue, and the rejection of his nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987 contributed to the impression that his years in office were, to take the title of a book by a first-rate journalist, ‘the Reagan detour.’ As time went on, as the Berlin Wall fell and Bill Clinton proclaimed that the era of big government was over, it became clear that Reagan was a successful transformational president — something the mainstream media grudgingly admitted when he died in 2004 after a decade out of public view….

…So, too, with the political left’s determination to defeat Bush’s first nominee to the Supreme Court. Democrats, with much help from the press, argued successfully in 1987 that Robert Bork was out of the mainstream and in 1991 brought up spectacular charges that cast a pall on Justice Clarence Thomas. They seem almost certain not to have such success against the obviously highly qualified John Roberts. They may try to argue that Roberts is ’out of the mainstream.’ But the vote on Roberts’s nomination to the appeals court was 14 to 3 in the judiciary committee. Who is in the mainstream now?”

If you’ve already clicked on Michael Barone’s piece, you know I saved the good news for last: It’s no longer working. 

“This summer,” writes Barone, “one big story is replaced by another — the London bombings July 7, the speculation that Karl Rove illegally named a covert CIA agent, the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, more London bombings last week. But beneath the hubbub, we can see the playing out of another, less reported story: the collapse of the attempts by liberal Democrats and their sympathizers in the mainstream media — The New York Times, etc., etc. — to delegitimize yet another Republican administration.”