In case anyone following the Brett Kavanaugh sex assault allegations still believes the central issue is sexual assault, one thing should be made clear: It is not. This whole affair was always about only one thing, and that is the attempt to prevent President Donald Trump from putting another conservative on the Supreme Court.
Having brow-beaten Republicans into convening a hearing on the allegation of attempted rape brought against Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Senate Democrats thought a golden opportunity had presented itself. The public hearing would be the end of Kavanaugh as a nominee, but the judge – and the Republicans – turned the tables in this most epic in a series of recent epic congressional showdowns.
Democrats went into the hearing with three options: Shame Republicans into voting against Kavanaugh’s nomination, shame the judge himself into withdrawing his name, or force a further delay in the confirmation process by convincing everyone that further investigation of the matter was the only reasonable way forward.
The Outrage Contest
During the hearing, held Thursday, September 27, there was, indeed, plenty of shaming – but it was directed at the Democrats themselves and much of it came from Kavanaugh and from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Billed as providing Kavanaugh’s accuser the chance to tell her story and for the judge to defend his reputation, the hearing clearly did not go according to plan.
No-one may ever know what scorn, disgust, and indignation Senators Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, and Mazie Hirono had planned to heap upon the judge. Doubtless, there would have been lots of yelling, flailing of hands, and wild-eyed stares as the three competed with each other for the title of Most Outraged Presidential Hopeful. It is almost surprising that Booker didn’t grow some hair just so that he could tear it out for the cameras.
Other than offering some predictable platitudes about how courageous Dr. Ford was, Democrats practically ignored her in their eagerness to self-promote. They threw her condescendingly soothing compliments and a few softball questions, designed to set themselves up for a bit of good, ol’ fashioned political posturing. It was all a warm-up for when Kavanaugh himself took the hot seat, at which time – or so they had surely planned – they would cross-examine, grill, and belittle him, and then emerge as conquering heroes, having vanquished Trump’s favored second Supreme Court pick.
Senate Democrats Hit Hard
The judge stripped them of the opportunity, however. He opened up with a barrage of his own: going after Democrats for attempting to destroy his reputation, his career, and his very life. He chastised them for putting his family through hell. The seemingly mild-mannered public servant held nothing back. Though not by name, he attacked Booker, Harris, and other Democrats for their hysterical fear-mongering over what his place on the Supreme Court would mean for the nation.
Delving into the Democrats’ political motives, he accused them – and the Clintons – of seeking revenge for their 2016 election defeat. All the while, though, he was careful not to disparage or discredit Christine Blasey Ford in any way, even while he touched on some of the inconsistencies in her story. To use a football term, he collapsed the pocket, leaving the minority party senators with nowhere to go. After eviscerating their behavior and motives – and their complete refusal to afford him any presumption of innocence – how could they possibly respond by tearing into his character, implying that he was both a liar and some sort of remorseless sexual predator?
Of course, even the usually savage and relentless progressive senators could not take the aggressive approach they had no doubt planned, and their questioning of the judge was somewhat meek. Probably realizing that their plan of ending the Kavanaugh nomination there and then had failed, the Democrats went to plan B: Attempting to persuade the nominee to call a temporary halt to his confirmation while the FBI conducted an investigation. This was not going to work either, as it turned out.
Kavanaugh explained to the panel that the FBI would do nothing more than what they, themselves, were already doing. The Bureau would interview the alleged witnesses, write reports and turn those reports over to the Senate Judiciary Committee. There was nothing else for them to do: There was no ‘crime scene’ because Ford could not recall the exact location of the house in which the alleged assault had taken place. There was no forensic evidence or trail of clues to follow. This is not, as it turns out, an episode of C.S.I.
Senator Graham also shredded his Democratic counterparts, describing the whole affair as an “unethical sham” and berating them for sitting on Ford’s allegation until after Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing: “That you knew about [the allegation] and you held it,” he told the Democratic Senators, particularly Diane Feinstein, who received a letter from Ford in July. “You had no intention of protecting Doctor Ford …” Graham went on, “None! She’s as much of a victim as you are [referring to Kavanaugh].” Then, to Kavanaugh, Graham said “You’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend.”
Winners and Losers
The Democrats’ initial goal had been to kill the Kavanaugh nomination at the confirmation hearing. As the judge himself pointed out, Feinstein kept the Ford allegation in reserve, in the event that he, Kavanaugh, performed well enough at that hearing. From that time on, the plan had been to use the alleged sexual assault to sabotage his confirmation and when that, too, failed, the last resort was to delay the entire process until after the midterms. None of those tactics have panned out.
The winners and losers from Thursday’s hearing? Ford emerges as a somewhat sympathetic figure. She put on her best confused and clueless victim performance but is, clearly, sharper than she tries to make out. She has, however, been cynically manipulated by the left-wing media and the Democratic Party. She provided not one further shred of evidence to cement her somewhat shaky accusation.
Kavanaugh has now assumed the role of a man rightfully outraged by his treatment and victimization while betraying no hint of being the secret sex-fiend the left had made him out to be. He accounted himself in a manner that likely assures his nomination. Senators Harris, Booker, and Hirono enhanced their respective images as thoroughly unpleasant, unprincipled, and willing to do anything for power. Feinstein, meanwhile, emerges as the real villain. She orchestrated the timing of this entire debacle and, as Graham suggested, she owes an apology to Ford – but, perhaps, to Kavanaugh and the American people, too.
For Donald J. Trump, the final icing on the cake, amid this whole, dreadful exercise in manipulation and character-assassination, could be a renewed determination, on the part of his base, to deny the Democrats in November.