Is Bork the Original Sin of the Supreme Court fights? Conservatives love to paint that saga as the beginning of the era where the Court matters more than the president during a presidential election, but I'm not sure that that isn't revisionist history. I base this on the fact that (1) Arlen Fucking Specter was against the nomination. Yes, he switched sides 20 years later, but he wasn't exactly Che Guevara. And (2), Kennedy, Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg all had unanimous or near unanimous assent from the Senate. Roberts was the first to face serious dissent, with Dems splitting down the middle, and Alito then becoming the first in a string who were basically opposed along party lines, which of course eventually degenerated into the Merrick Garland debacle. So I don't think there's a lot we can learn from the Bork saga, at least not as much as conservatives like to imagine. The dude was literally on record as saying that Brown v Board of Ed was wrongly decided (although I guess he hedged by saying that it was morally correct, but legally unsound or some bullshit--but what do you expect from a guy who thought that the Saturday Night Massacre was just a regular day at the office).
You are probably right that this is the crown Jewell of Moscow Mitch's ride. He's sold out everything to achieve this moment, and now he has it. I think the joke will be on him in the end, however, because history teaches us that the Court moves with the American people, albeit at a slower pace. There's no situation in which the Court can keep a firm conservative grip on the law while 80 to 90% of the people are moving in the opposite direct. Even Roberts, the person whose SCOTUS career started in a partisan logjam and who therefore probably has the right to hate a lot of Dems, has shown that he hears people and will bend to popular will. I'm as annoyed at this moment as any liberal, but I am also optimistic that the long game may have worn itself out already.