Politics does not get much creepier than the line from conservative Republican senators who say they have decided to support the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court because “elections have consequences.”

Both South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, in announcing they will vote to confirm Judge Sotomayor, have used the “elections have consequences” line to explain their choices.

Balancing gripes about ideological differences (“liberal… liberal… liberal… left of center,” to quote Graham) with grudging admissions that she is “one of the most qualified nominees to be selected for the Supreme Court in decades,” the senators looked for an easy out.

They found it in the word “consequences.”

“I do believe that elections have consequences, and it’s not like we hid from the American people during the campaign that the Supreme Court nomination was at stake,” explained Graham, a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when he announced the Judge Sotomayor would get his vote.<.a> “The American people spoke.”

Alexander, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate and a twice-failed presidential candidate, bleated the same mantra, telling reporters that one of the reasons he was voting to confirm Judge Sotomayor was that “elections have consequences, one of which is to confer upon the president the constitutional right to nominate justices.”

While they are doing the right thing, their whining about consequences is unbecoming. (And distinct from more moderate Republican backers of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, such as Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Indiana’s Richard Lugar.)It is not enough for Graham and Alexander to acknowledge that Judge Sotomayor is the most legally and judicially qualified nominee for the high court since Justice Benjamin Cardozo, and that her rulings are well within the judicial mainstream. They have to have an excuse (for Rush Limbaugh and the party faithful) that suggests they have been dragged kicking and screaming to the realm of reason.

The “elections have consequences” line is the congressional equivalent of saying: Barack Obama and the Democrats won so we have to accept their lousy nominee, just like they had to accept our lousy nominees when we were in charge.

With all due respect, if that’s what Graham and Alexander think, they should oppose Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation.

Elections do have consequences.

Winning candidates for president get to appoint justices and judges.

Winning parties get to control and advance the confirmation process.

But no member of the Senate should vote to give a lifetime spot on the Supreme Court to a nominee out of deference to a president or a process.

And, frankly, it is insulting to a qualified nominee whose approach to the confirmation process has been responsible and at least as impressive of that of anyone else who has earned a place on the court over the past two decades.

Judge Sotomayor is not a “consequence.”

She is an able nominee who has earned a place on the high court by virtue of her experience and her grace under fire during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her nomination.

If Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander cannot recognize the reasons for confirming Judge Sotomayor, they should save their “elections have consequences” blather and vote with the party of “no.”