Just now reading Hewitt again I was reassured because he hit the nail on the head:
Senate members and staff long ago abandoned basic human decency when they decided to cover ideological opposition with attacks on character. How refreshing it would be if, say, Barbara Boxer would stand up in the Senate and say "I oppose Justice Owen because she's a center-right Republican and I'm a liberal." Fine. Boxer won the election in California. She can do whatever she wants with her vote. But to try and turn William Meyer or Janice Rogers Brown or Miguel Estrada or all the others into ogres is disgusting.
That is exactly it. I may think someone is dead wrong and thier ideology destructive, but the Democrats have stooped to pretty awful levels. By not defining the "extraordinary circumstances" Senate Republicans have let those smears stand. The Democrats have painted distinguished, mainstream judges, albeit conservative, as "extreme". The flavor of the compromise seems to be - "we let these extreme judges thru to maintain civility and in return you'll never nominate someone those Jesusland people will like even if you did win the election."
They could easily have defined why a judge would be filibustered. Trent Lott rattled off what would make a filibuster defendable: ethics problem, documents withheld or conflict of interest.