In the end, the votes were there to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. After weeks of hyper-partisan, win-at-all-costs, disgraceful conduct by the DEMs and the media, we got a lesson in statesmanship and the meaning of advice and consent from Senator Susan Collins. Her eloquent speech focused on issues that should matter, and were in stark contrast to how the DEMs have approached the hearings with personal attacks and high-school trivia. Rather than a simple knee jerk “no way” that it took DEMs three nanoseconds after the nomination announcement to proclaim, Collins actually took the time to go through Kavanaugh’s 300 plus opinions, and ask explanations from him directly about cases on issues important to her. Rather than applying unsupported buzz words to him, like the DEM mantra that he was “out of the legal mainstream,” she researched his opinions and found that over 90% were joined by the head of the DC Circuit, Merrick Garland, who was the DEM poster child for the Court. Never heard that from the mainstream media.
As for the sexual-assault accusations, rather than the DEM sound bite reaction that they “believed” Dr. Christine Ford, Collins studied the evidence, with the overriding criterion being the need for any conclusions to pass the “more likely than not” test. While expressing concern and empathy for Dr. Ford and all victims of assault, she balanced that with the need for due process; and the credibility of the accused who adamantly denied all the charges.
But most importantly, she looked at the evidence, including the key fact the none of the supposed witnesses that Dr. Ford claimed would back up her story, did so; they all either had no recollection or flat out denied it ever happened. Collins also referred to the totality of Kavanaugh’s adult life, not to excuse any behavior that might have occurred while he was a teenager, but to inform her judgment of his credibility. Remember that unlike some analysts who were prepared to give Kavanaugh a pass for teenage actions, Kavanaugh never used that excuse; instead, he vehemently stated that the events never happened. She admitted that Dr. Ford may have been the victim of some assault, but there was nothing in the evidence record to show that Kavanaugh did it. By inference, she also made the distinction between serious accusations of sexual assault, and trivial questions about high school drinking or yearbook entries. The former needs to be taken seriously and investigated (which they were), while the latter has no place in a serious Senate advice and consent effort.
Collins also blasted the process as a circus, but reserved her most strident scolding for whomever leaked the letter from Dr. Ford. She called that a betrayal, and the perpetrator shameful for outing a woman who wanted to remain anonymous. And while she let her friend, Dianne Feinstein, off the hook, she pointedly did not afford the same courtesy to Feinstein’s staff or the lawyers/advisers involved. It was a clear demonstration that DEMs didn’t care a whit who they destroyed, including Dr. Ford, to do the bidding of their base; Kavanaugh was just in the way, and had committed the extra clarifying sin of being “Trump’s Guy.”
But if you thought the apparent confirmation vote would put an end to the partisan opposition, think again; it will only get worse. Besides the demonstrations that will accompanied the final vote, we had numerous other indications of where the continuing opposition to Kavanaugh and Trump will be aimed. Here are some examples. Because Kavanaugh is a GOP partisan as evidenced by his condemnation of the way the DEMs handled the process, he must recuse himself from any cases dealing with politics. Ditto, as a sexual predator, he is unfit to rule on cases dealing with women; he was nominated by Trump, so anything related to Trump or Russia must be off limits; and as a serious drinker, he cannot possibly be fair to any case involving alcohol. Since that knocks out so many potential cases, what good is he on the Court? Toss in the “fact” that he lied in the confirmation hearings by contradicting tweets from some high-school classmates that he was a “heavy” drinker, and as promised by a NY DEM Congressman, if the DEMs take the House, they will move to impeach Kavanaugh.
There will also be the mob intimidation factor, aimed at legislators, voters and the Court; and the never-ending stream of anti-Kavanaugh op-eds. In just one day, we have a Time article claiming that women who would vote to seat Kavanaugh care more about their sons than their daughters; another one urging voters to support DEM candidates in local races because it is a certainty that Kavanaugh will be the fifth vote to overturn Roe, and when that happens, the issue will go back to the states; a line of logic needing a 10-year triple-bank shot to work. I found that one really ironic since before DEMs have always used the scare tactic that reversing Roe at the Supreme Court would “make abortion illegal.” We also had several articles claiming that Kavanaugh was not a legitimate Supreme Court judge because Trump lost the popular vote, and those senators voting for him did not represent the majority of U.S. voters; some of these were written by so called legal scholars who evidently had neglected to read the Constitution.
Then, incredibly, we had some DEMs come forward to justify their conduct in the hearings because “anything goes in a job interview.” And the justification was that he was not being charged with a crime so rules of due process don’t apply. But no one, including the media, raised the question of why he wasn’t being charged with a crime. If Dr. Ford was so sure she was assaulted, why not bring charges? And if DEMs “believed” her, why weren’t they pushing for the same? It’s likely because any charges with this fact pattern would be immediately dismissed, and therefore not fit the narrative; but now the prospect is being raised that it was not done to give the DEMs cover for their behavior. Either way, it tells you all you need to know about their true motives.
And we are still getting DEM speeches about Kavanaugh being unfit because of his “temperament,” including his inability to be unbiased toward cases involving the DEM party he blasted. But as Collins implied, there is a world of difference between how a human might react to the most vicious accusations of horrible crimes that he knows he didn’t do; and how a judge might react to cases brought before him. If you want evidence of the latter, there are over 300 of them if the DEMs cared to look.
The DEMs have nothing else left for the midterms, after putting their eggs in the “Defeat Kavanaugh” basket, so this will continue at high decibel levels for the next month. The ongoing debate though is whether this will help or hurt each party, and how the GOP should react to it. It seems to be conventional wisdom that the “losers” in something this emotional and consequential will be so angered and primed for revenge that it will energize them more than the “winners.” I tend to agree with that conclusion, but with a caveat.
In this case, the “losers” are likely to be the far-left base; they will undoubtedly be energized, ramp up their attack and smear efforts, and be inspired to vote. But that represents only a fraction of DEM voters, and the more numerous and moderate DEMs are going to get an up close and personal look at what DEM majorities will mean. I don’t think they like what they have seen and will continue to see, and will be more influenced and demoralized by the fact that they lost. As for the GOP, winning begets winning; and this is a huge win; it’s a main reason why folks voted for Trump, and he has kept his promise. Folks like to be associated with a winner, so reminding them that they need to vote to support the winning team is job one; that image will matter as much in a midterm as tax cuts, reduced regulations, and record-low unemployment numbers. At the same time, the GOP needs to be reminding all voters, GOP and DEM alike, that the behavior they witnessed at the hearing and after, including the betrayal of women, and the politics of personal destruction, is what awaits us if the DEMs take power. The combination of the two should be enough to hold the House and actually gain Senate seats.
Kudos to those in the Senate who held the fort and did the right thing in the face of extreme pressure and even personal physical peril. But even more kudos to Trump for standing behind his pick when virtually any of the other 2016 GOP hopefuls would have likely headed for the hills. It’d great to see the GOP finally stand up the DEM smear machine and fight for what they believe is right. All bodes well for the midterms if the messaging remains consistent, and the GOP remembers that Yogi Berra was right.