Part of my problem with discussing politics is the lack of one side to see when they have been hypocritical or only defending or saying something because their side is in power. It is as if they do not have a set of beliefs but instead just want the means of power to then do what they think is "right". As I always respond 'who says it is right'. I believe in having a set of ideas and principles, not just doing it because it feels right. Be careful of the apparatus of power you put in place because you may not always be at the controls... like using reconciliation for a health care bill opposed by a majority of America when you said reconciliation was evil when the other party was going to use it for judges. Judges are a key issue when it comes to the change in opposition over the years.
Years ago, the Senate had a custom of reviewing Supreme Court justices by their ability. Ideology was not as huge of a sticking point with the Senate confirmation. Look at the confirmation voting for Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia. Rehnquist was confirmed with 68 votes when the Senate was controlled by the Democrats. Scalia was voted 98-0. Never ever would that happen today. Things changed when Ted Kennedy, in one of his least accurate but most effective speeches ever, attacked Robert Bork on ideology (false as it was) and not ability. This was early in the days of the culture wars. This started the idea that the minority party would not confirm the president's nominees with a check up on their ability and resumes, but would fight on those ideological culture war battlelines.
We live with this today. Bill Clinton was reluctant to nominate a strong liberal to the court because of the make up of the Senate while POTUS. George W. Bush had a majority and when two seats came open, the Dems cried holy hell at the idea that he would even nominate anyone. Compromises were reached, plus W nominated one of the most qualified individuals ever to the court with impeccable credentials (Chief Justice Roberts). Obama, proving once more that he is a weakling who stands up to no one (even with judges in 09), has not really fought hard for court nominess at any level. What is worse is that the ideology blocks and the shenanigans that started with borking nominees for the Supreme Court have trickled down to the lower courts out of fear people would later become Supreme Court nominees. A friend has written an article on this problem. As I said years ago with the '05 huff and puffing by Democrats, be careful what precedents you set because one day you will want your judges screened with respect.
Part of this, as well as the rise of the culture wars, stems from the Republicans not repealing the New Deal or Great Society programs, instead almost tending them until the Dems expanded them, and the Democrats moving to the right with economics as they became much friendlier with big business. The Dem-GOP line was blurred, so culture war issues and the judicial system were a couple of stark differences to exploit. Republicans were not the balanced budget party anymore, but were definitely the party of the 2nd amendment and traditional values. Democrats became buddies with Wall St and Multinational Corporations, but if you were a 'victim' you could vote for them and they'd hook up your grievance (not yet for the gays with Obama). Protect your right to get an abortion! Protect your right to bear arms! Donate now! We'll make sure you get what you want... we'll stack the courts in our favor.