I have no idea whether or not Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I think it's likely he will -- but anyone who gives you a certainty (even if they turn out to be right) is just guessing. While I do think the odds right now favor him getting confirmed, I would not be remotely shocked if he withdraws, or if his name is withdrawn for him, or if he stays on but gets voted down. In part, the reason I don't know -- nor does anyone yet -- because I don't think the story is fully told yet.
What I do know is that the Republicans screwed up this nomination SO horrifically that they have created a disaster for themselves with the mid-terms, whatever happens with this nomination.
If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, polls shows that the public and women voters most-especially will be aghast at the Republican Party who bullied this nomination through, and that includes Independent voters in the middle who are undecided, and even moderate Republicans. Even a "Fox News" polls shows that the public doesn't want Kavanaugh confirmed by a huge margin of 10 points. That's unprecedented with Supreme Court nominees.
But also, even if Kavanaugh is not confirmed, Republicans have screwed themselves. That's because not only will that same public and most-especially those same women be just as virulently outraged at Republicans who staunchly, rigidly, gallingly have defended someone who was so problematically seen as a sexual attacker that he had to withdraw (or was voted down)…but also, the Republican base is will be utterly furious at their own party for having the majority yet not being able to confirm someone they see as such a fine conservative and Trump's man -- and wimping out. Consider what Tucker Carlson said on "Fox News" yesterday when talking about the possibility of Kavanaugh not being confirmed -- "Republicans in the Senate do not care about you." No, he wasn't merely complaining about the few Republicans in the Senate who may not support Brett Kavanaugh all the way, but no, no, screw them ALL. And this after the Republican Senate has carried the water for Trump like lapdogs since the day he was elected, at the expense of their souls.
But the thing is -- it's not just how Republican senators vote that has outraged so much of the public, it's how they GOP has handled the whole confirmation process. It was bad enough when the public saw Republicans unwilling to release hundreds of thousands of pages of documents about Kavanaugh's time in the White House, or that Republicans dumped 100,000 pages of material the night before the hearing began. All that pointed profoundly to a hearing where Republicans had no intention of being fair and open for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. But once the allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford surfaced, votes aside, it was clear that Republican abuse and bullying of women intensified.
The public saw --
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) bullying Dr. Ford to ensure she testify when he wanted her to and under his conditions. Statements from senators like Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that demeaned Dr. Ford, that maybe she was "confused," even before hearing her testify. Trump refusing to call the FBI in to investigate the accusation. The Republican majority of the Judiciary Committee refusing to subpoena the witness Dr. Ford said was actually in the room when the attack she said occurred. Tweets by a top Grassley aide Mike Lee, the Chief Counsel for Nominations, the staff member leading the committee's investigation, were SO biased in expressing his determination to confirm Kavanaugh giving lie to protestations of fairness, that they were later deleted. And of course Trump himself, unable to stick to the script, damning Dr. Ford by saying if the events she described were so terrible, why didn't she report them to the FBI 36 years earlier. (Never mind of course that one doesn't report accusations of sexual assault to the FBI.) And just yesterday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the Senate floor and slammed all of these stories about Brett Kavanaugh -- which, to be clear, now include an article in the New Yorker magazine about an incident of sexual abuse by Kavanaugh at Yale, and attorney Michael Avenatti announcing he has a third victim about to go public, as well as a report that a Maryland D.A. might possibly be looking into a fourth case -- as being, according to GOP leader McConnell, all just part of a big Democratic conspiracy. Which means Mr. McConnell doesn't believe any of the stories are true, that all the women are liars.
And then there's also this passage in the New Yorker article --
Yes, that's right. Republicans actually knew a week earlier about the second woman claiming to be a sexual abuse victim of Kavanaugh. And they not only buried it, but worked to rush the confirmation process through, so that it couldn't come to light.
So, even the vote aside (which is a whole lot to put aside), the Republican Party has done the near impossible. They took what is now largely regard in history as the GOP's reprehensible treatment of Anita Hill in 1991 when she testified about sexual abuse by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas...and not only didn't learn their lesson from it, but actually made it worse!!!!
Even before having any idea how people will vote, I would suggest that the Republican Party has done themselves irreparable damage in the upcoming mid-term elections just six weeks away. And the party was facing a Blue Wave before this. And to be clear, it's not just the numbers of voters Republicans have impacted negatively from their handling of the Kavanaugh nomination, but the intensity. And in a mid-term election, which is usually poorly attention, voter enthusiasm, the get-out-the-vote effort, is critical. And the GOP has now outraged voters beyond their detestation of Trump alone.
And now, once you get past all that about the confirmation process, now add in the Senate voting. That whole part about how if Brett Kavanaugh gets confirmed, voters (and especially women voters) are going to be outraged beyond measure -- and if he doesn't get confirmed, women voters (and voters across the board, including the furious Republican base) are going to be almost equally outraged.
And keep in mind that whatever happens with the confirmation, events don't end there. There still will be journalists investigating the story, there will perhaps be other women coming forward, there could be D.A.'s in Maryland (where there's no statute of limitations) looking into any criminal actions, and the reality remains that Brett Kavanaugh will be on either the Supreme Court or the federal bench, and open to impeachment.
The Republican Party has created a nightmare for themselves, just weeks before the mid-term. However the confirmation process turns out, they are damned if he's confirmed and damned if he isn't. And they did it all to themselves.
It couldn't happen to a more deserving group of folks.
Here's the latest song parody from Randy Ranbow. You can probably figure out the subject matter even without looking below. The lyrics are effective, although not as bitingly vibrant as some earlier efforts, however it's so lively and good-natured in its performance, with fun production turns and fast-paced clever editing that it's a joy to watch.
Many Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, as well as Republican spokespeople and commentators have said that there is no point in having a hearing on Thursday where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will testify on her allegations of being sexually attacked by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Their reason, they explain, is because it will just be a case of "He said / She said" and no one will know any more than they do know.
They are wrong. We may not know more. Or may. But it is not "He said / She said" and we will most definitely know more.
The questions that Dr. Ford will be asked by Republicans most-likely will be concerned of her memory of the event and her drinking at the time and who, if anyone she told. The "She said" part. Democrats on the committee will likely be addressing many different issues related to the story, but not remotely limited to the night in question. Many will probably be about who Brett Kavanaugh was at the time, and in the years following -- and importantly who he is today. They'll want to know how his friend Ed Whelan knew about Dr. Ford and began to track her online and start to spread knowingly-false rumors about some other mythical doppleganger of Kavanaugh who Christine Ford also knew at the time -- despite her name not having been released yet to the public.
They'll also want to know about the writings of his friend Mark Judge -- who Dr. Ford says was in the room at the time -- who discusses his poorly code-named friend "Bart O'Kavanaugh" and their mutual drinking rampages. They'll also want to know about other parties he went to during those years and the ones that followed at Yale.
And they'll now want to know about the new article in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer (which you can read here) that has a new allegation by Deborah Ramirez of a sexual assault at a drinking party at Yale. This story -- with names and attributions -- is a "He said / She said" tale, but some of the quotes, whether the specific incident is accurate, are damning. These include statements on the record from Kavanaugh's college roommate, which the articles notes, "He said that he never witnessed Kavanaugh engage in any sexual misconduct, but did recall him being 'frequently, incoherently drunk.' He described Ramirez as a vulnerable outsider. 'Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie? Yeah, definitely. Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.'” And the article has an on-the-record statement from Elizabeth Rasor, who was Mark Judge's former girlfriend of three years at the time --.
"Rasor stressed that 'under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t reveal information that was told in confidence,' but, she said, 'I can’t stand by and watch him lie.' In an interview with The New Yorker, she said, 'Mark told me a very different story.' Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep."
And the article makes clear that Republican aides on the Judiciary Committee knew about the Ramirez allegations a week ago, as Republicans senator tried to rush the confirmation through as fast as possible.
That's the supposed "He said" part.
It's not "He said." It's a hearing to try and get to the bottom of all the reports of Brett Kavanaugh's wild drinking, sexual societies and insistence today, under oath, of his choir boy life, complete with being a swell coach of his daughter's basketball team, always an important credential when confirming a Supreme Court justice.
There are leaks from the White House that while doing a Judiciary Hearing prep session to get ready for Thursday, Kavanaugh was asked mock questions about his drinking and sex life that made him so uncomfortable that he was struggling and refused to answer them. That won't work so well with Democratic senators.
(Obligatory quip: It seems that Judiciary Hearing prep is far more difficult to slide through than Georgetown Prep.)
I don't know what the full reality of all this is, of course. There are a lot of damning hints, but they mean nothing, other than as damning hints. But this is the important part (perhaps even more so than the above, which is say A LOT) -- two damning hints have stood out. To be clear, they certainly don't mean that Brett Kavanaugh did anything wrong, but they are impossible not to pay attention to.
The first was that news reported by the Yale student newspaper of Kavanaugh participating in a secret society while at college there, known as (sorry, this was its nickname) "The Tit and Clit Society." As well as being in the DKE fraternity known for its misogynistic parties and members chanting, "No means yes, yes means anal." Again, this isn't even close to proof of -- well, I was going to say "reprehensible behavior," except that it is, so let's go farther and more to the point -- criminal behavior. And it's about who Brett Kavanaugh is, not merely his version of what he says happened that one night. And equally to the point, it's something Kavanaugh will no doubt be asked about and have to address at the Senate Judiciary hearing. It's probably among the questions in his Judiciary Hearing prep he felt uncomfortable about and didn't want to answer.
The second matter is worse.
It began over the weekend when Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti sent out a tweet that suggested he may have some information about other matters, and then posted a more specific follow-up. And then announced that he his now representing an un-named client with an accusation about Brett Kavanaugh. (This would be a third woman, since he said it is not Deborah Ramirez.) Again, none of that means anything by itself in the slightest. It could be just a tactic to force an issue, but have nothing behind it. However, his track record of "coy hints" coming to fruition is quite good. Which brings up a tweet he sent out Sunday night. It included the attachment of an email exchange he had with a fellow named Mike Davis -- who is the Chief Counsel for Nominations for U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Again, my disclaimer: this exchange the two men had isn't proof of ANYTHING. But whatever one thinks of Michael Avenatti, he is not a stupid man and he knows the law. And for a lawyer to not only send what he did to the Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but actually post it publicly, he has to know that if he can't back it up, he's not only in deep, incredibly serious trouble, but his legal career will take a massive hit.
Squeamish souls (which includes me) may want to avert your eyes. Really. I only was able to skim it, and had to do that several times before getting the full details. (Davis's email to Avenatti is at the bottom in gray, and Aventatti's follow-up reply is above it.)
I'm sorry that the words are so small. They were small in the original. (You can temporarily increase the font size displayed on your monitor. In Windows, the command is CTRL+. To shrink the font size back, it's CTRL-)
(To those who can't read this above, I'll just quote the opening from Michael Avenatti. "Dear Mr. Davis: Thank you for your email. We are aware of significant multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C. area during the early 1980s during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them. There are multiple witnesses that will corroborate these facts and each of them must be called to testify publicly.” He then lists a series of graphic, troubling, profoundly uncomfortable questions to ask.)
I continue my Disclaimer Fest. None of this is evidence of ANYTHING. It might all be untrue. Kavanaugh's discomfort at answering questions in his prep session might be about something else entirely. But the point is --
This is not a "he said-she said" situation. There are a lot of questions that Brett Kavanaugh is going to have to answer from Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee. He can say he won't answer. He can say he doesn't remember. He can say it's all untrue. But the hearing will not simply be a case of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford making her accusations and being asked questions to back them up, and then Brett Kavanaugh "emphatically denying" her charges and being asked questions to support that, hearing over, thanks for coming, goodbye -- and then the committee will have to decide whose story to believe No, there are going to be A LOT of questions about who these two people are and who they were, to establish a foundation on deciding who and what to believe.
That's the point.
And importantly, it's also not about who Brett Kavanaugh was when he was a 17-year-old minor, 36 years ago. Or even an 18-year-old adult at college. It is about who Brett Kavanaugh is TODAY, how he is answering questions now, when actually under oath. Hoping for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
I don't know what the truth is. I do know -- as I've mentioned -- that I know someone who is very longtime friends with Christine Blasey Ford and is a professional and believes her. That isn't proof. Nor does it relate to all the other stories. But this is no longer, "Well, there's just this one accuser. And if it was true there would be others."
There are others.
And as much as Brett Kavanaugh may want to believe that "What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep" -- it doesn't.
And as always: this is not about Trump or Brett Kavanaugh. It is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who know all this and are trying to ram the lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through.
What kind of a day was it in Trump Land? A day like any other, except...You Are There!
I don't even know where to begin, so we'll just toss a coin:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave Dr. Christine Blasey Ford -- who says she was sexually attacked by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh -- until sundown to show her face in the town square, or the little lady is a yellow-belly coward and has to git out of Dodge.
The New York Times reported that Rod Rosenstein supposedly suggested wire-tapping Trump because of concerns over the 25th Amendment and mental incapacity.
Trump reverted to being Trump and tried to "slut shame" a sexual abuse victim by tweeting, "I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"
Rob Goldstone, who set up the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, did an interview with Cynthia McFadden of the Today show. He said that while he didn't know specifically who wanted the meeting, he nonetheless acknowledged that, yes, it was clear to him that what was being discussed was a dirty offer from the Russians.
And floodwaters as a result of Hurricane Florence have overflowed a dam at a North Carolina power plant. Reports are that toxic coal ash from the plant's dump site may be flowing from the dam's lake into nearby Cape Fear River.
Don't worry about the toxic coal ash, Trump is on the job. There he is in North Carolina telling a guy big congrats on having a boat land in his front yard (as if the "Finders Keepers" rule applies) and offering "Have a good day!" to a hungry, drive-thru local resident receiving a box lunch at a center for those in need of food. No paper towels were thrown this time -- although, they probably could have been helpful with all that coal ash.
Thanks to Rob Goldstone's admission, it looks like the Special Counsel's office found a roomful of witches this time!
It's sort of hard to imagine that the Republican Party -- knowing how the years have damned the GOP senators' treatment of Anita Hill 27 years ago testifying against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas over sexual abuse -- not only wouldn't treat with the utmost deference the next woman who claimed being sexual attacked by a Supreme Court nominee, especially with a mid-term election coming up and women already flocking to Democrats, but would bizarrely and actually treat her...worse!
I've heard two suggestions that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford could make if she decides to turn down the Republican senators' bullying. One is that she go on 60 Minutes, and there can be interviewed in depth for the public to see in prime time. In fact, I can't imagine that the show hasn't long-since contacted her and are ready to go at a moment's notice if she says 'yes.' But I especially like the second suggestion from Norm Ornstein. He said that Democrats should organize their own official government hearing with Dr. Blasey Ford. And they could have every witness there that she wants called, people who have said they were aware of the attack long before Brett Kavanaugh was a Supreme Court nominee. And they should have the person who administered her lie detector test there to testify. And Democratic women and men senators should question her.
As for the Rod Rosenstein story, Ari Melber did an impressive, intricate breakdown of the timeline of events surrounding the Department of Justice meeting with Mr. Rosenstein, including how it all related to newly-appointed Chief of Staff John Kelly (who was included in the article, as being the person Rosentein supposedly suggested he talk to). The specifics and dates are detailed, but the bottomline is that it's near-ludicrous for the story to have played out as written. Logistically possible, yes, but problematically unlikely for everything to fit in like clockwork, including that Rosenstein was new to his position and Kelly was not yet appointed to Chief of State and just a lower-level functionary in the administration at that point.
Details for the story come from people not in the meeting. Participants who were actually there say that Rosentein was being sarcastic when Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe brought up investigating Trump because of concerns over Trump's mental condition. A New York Times reporter defended his story because he said that , contrary to latter insistence that Rosenstein was just being sarcastic, he had instead responded at the meeting that, in fact, he was being serious. Okay, fine, let's say he did say he was being serious. I write dialogue for a living. It's REALLY EASY for me to figure out how that would go -- being sarcastic and serious at the same time.
Andrew McCabe: The president may be having mental problems. What do we do about that? Should the Department investigate him?
Rod Rosenstein: (incredulous, then sarcastically) What do you want to do, Andy, wire the president??”
Andrew McCabe: (stares at him a moment in disbelief, then) You're joking, Rod. Right??
Rod Rosenstein: No, I am dead serious. Because you just suggested we investigate the president, and I want to know -- if you mean that -- how in the world that's supposed to work? Do you actually mean we should wire-tap him???
Andrew McCabe: No, of course not.
Rod Rosenstein: Right.
It's not a difficult concept. It is not reasonably believable that career, conservative, by-the-book Republican Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein was seriously suggesting that he bring a wire into meetings with the president of the United States. Who had appointed him to the job, it must be remembered, as well. But here's the thing for anyone conspiratorialist who thinks he Really Actually Meant it. If anyone believes that Rod Rosenstein was actually serious about bugging Trump because of the 25th Amendment...why didn't he?? Because -- he didn't.
By the way, though, how crazy must the brain-sick lunatic stuff that Trump was saying in private have been for anyone in the Department of Justice to even JOKE about investigating the president, let alone THINK about it??!!
One other thing. I like the New York Times. I don't like all the articles they write, but they're a deepy important, extraordinary source of information in the country. And if they thought this was a real story of political meaning, they should have printed it. But -- this doesn't remotely strike me as a serious story of political importance. They may have got the details right, but from all I've read and heard, they got the analysis and meaning of it wrong. And knowing the impact it would have on the country, I think it was a deeply bad decision to go with it.
I should also note that, for all the coverage, I don't think it's a problematic story. Anyone who believes the worst here, believed in the "Dark State of the DOJ" already. Anyone who wants Rod Rosenstein fired over this, they wanted him fired already. And we know that Trump has wanted to fire Rosenstein for a year, so it doesn't matter if it's this reason or some other manufactured one. He has probably already decided to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the mid-term elections, which would be the first step to trying to fire Rod Rosenstein, so it's all part of the same piece. Other than Trump's most loyal adherents, I suspect that most everyone else not only senses the story is probably off-base, but is probably also thinking, "I'm glad the Department of Justice was aware that Trump was probably nuts and keeping its eyes open." What's unfortunate though is that it does throw gas on the low-burning embers of Trump Acolytes. But they'll always find their next reason to get inflamed on behalf of their Beloved.
Concerning Trump's tweet slamming Dr. Ford, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) told reporters she was "appalled" by Trump's comment. Just appalled. I know, because, yeah, who in the world could have possibly seen that tweet coming...?? Though it's nice to know that Trump could finally make a comment that would publicly appall her. Andrea Mitchell wrote on social media that she wondered if this was a "warning shot" to the White House from Sen. Collins. Yes, it was. A sort of, "Okay, okay, I know what you actually think about all this 'men being accused of sexual abuse' stuff and don't ever believe any women, perhaps because you're one of the guilty ones, but if you tweet it out loud to the public AGAIN I may be backed into a corner" heads-up.
What kind of a day was it? A day like any other, except You Are There...
Let's head back into the rest of the world, where countries around the globe have joined in to compete with one another in these videos to make the case why they should be Second, as long as Trump as decided that America is first. This is Australia's turn.
This is a little bit different from the others is a few small ways. The first is that it's preceded by a history of the "Comedy Against Trumpism" project. Also, they include some clips from several other efforts, which is great if you've missed most of the ones I've posted her (or just want a happy refresher). And finally, the have a twist late in their video, which sets them apart. But mostly, it's a funny funny entry in it's attempt to compete with the rest of the world.
On MSNBC last night, they played a one-minute clip of Trump talking with Sean Hannity for yet another rally speech. Afterwards, the panel commented how surprising it's been that he was been able to stay reasonably on message in a fairly low-key way for him, saying things about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford like "She has to be given a chance to have her say," as well as noting that that It's been a week and we should move on at this point. What surprised me is that in that same clip he said to Hannity that some people could ask, "Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?" -- and no one mentioned it on the panel.
I still don't know how that is possible. It was an egregious comment, not to mention an idiotic one. When you're 15 years old (or any age, for that matter), you don't call the FBI because someone sexually attacked you. The FBI has only been brought up today because Brett Kavanaugh is nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, and they do background checks. One would think that that's pretty basic, and it doesn't require being president to have a grasp on that concept. But further, it's also pretty well-established all the many and understandable reasons women don't go to the police if they've been raped -- let along sexually attacked and were able to escape. So, on many levels this was a truly awful thing to have said, clearly demeaning the accusation because no charges had been filed when she was a terrified, traumatized teenager. The Trump comment came late in the evening, and I do suspect there will be more reference to it today.
UPDATE: I wrote most of this article last night, but before posting it this morning I first checked the news for any new stories that might relate to it. It referred to the wonderful Stephanie Ruhle going on a rant on her MSNBC show, Velshi & Ruhle about this very quote. Alas, it's likely that other analysts won't deal with that quote, though not because they missed it. Rather because Trump went off message yet again and this time with a morning tweet. It's is similar and awful, and basically says that if there was really an attack he’s sure it would have been reported, so let’s find that out. It's possible that some reporters will put the two quotes together and note that Trump is beginning to stray off the reservation.)
But back to Dr. Ford and her lawyers.
Last night, the Ford lawyers released their conditions that they would agree to for Dr. Ford to testify. Most notably they include --
1. Ford does not want to be questioned by an outside counsel.
2. Ford does not want to testify in the same room as Brett Kavanaugh.
3. Ford wants the Senate to subpoena Mark Judge and other witnesses.
4. Ford wants no time limit on her opening statement.
5. Work to ensure Dr. Ford's safety.
6. Can't testify before Thursday.
7. Public hearing with limited cameras.
8. Kavanaugh testifies first, Ford second.
Not being a Senate testimony expert, those seem pretty benign, considering all the things that could have been demanded, including an FBI investigation. I'm sure there will be some give-and-take in negotiations (I suspect they'll insisted that Brett Kavanaugh, as the accused, go second), but it seems that the starting point should lead to her testifying next week.
A friend also said he was surprised that they didn't include requiring an FBI investigation first. I was a little surprised, as well, but they did request it earlier, and in the end it's something that only the president can order, so making it a condition to the Senate, which has no authority on such a thing, perhaps made it moot for the list.
My favorite condition on the list is the first one, and I hope they hold firm on it. It's obvious that the Republican senators are cowardly and afraid how they will appear, 11 older white men, several of who have already made damning, biased statements about Dr. Ford's charges. I know that some analysts have noted that there have been occasions when a committee had an outside counsel asking questions -- most famously for Joe McCarthy's investigative committee and during the Watergate investigations. But those situations were during investigations, and I know of no precedent where outside counsel was used to interrogate during confirmation hearing, as if it was a trial.
By the way, speaking of question -- Chris Matthews yesterday had some great, basic questions to ask Brett Kavanaugh at the hearing that couldn't easily be dismissed with "I don't have a recollection of that event." Among them -- Did you drink in high school? Did you ever drink to excess so that you'd blank out? How many beers did it take for you to be drunk?
Beyond all this, Republicans have to know -- or are so focused on their obsessive task at hand that they are not seeing the obvious -- that this confirmation hearing is not the end of the story. It's still possible that criminal charges could be filed in Maryland which doesn't have a statute of limitations on matters like this. While that's not likely, what is almost certain is that news reporters will be investigating. One legal expert put this in the best, most succinct way -- "In six months, some reporter is going to win the Pulitzer Prize for uncovering all this." Tracking down witnesses and evidence that Dr. Christine Ford is telling the truth that Brett Kavanaugh sexually attacked her with Mark Judge. And if Kavanaugh has been confirmed, bullied through the process by Republicans senators, ignoring the testimony of a woman presenting her traumatic experience to them -- just as they did 27 years ago with Anita Hill -- the GOP is going to have disaster on its hands. Pushing the man to the Supreme Court who she said sexually attacked her.
You'd have thought Republicans would have learned from that experience in 1991, grossly mishandling Anita Hill in her Senate testimony against a Supreme Court nominee. But despite their insistence to the contrary, apparently not. The best I can figure is that many of them don't actually think it was mishandled.
And in the end, I must finish the way I think all discussions of this topic should end -- it's not about Trump, it's all about the elected officials of the Republican Party.
From news reports, Republicans apparently are starting to feel good about how the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings are going. They are presuming that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will not want to testify on Monday without and FBI investigation, which isn't likely to happen. And even if she does, it will be without any supporting witnesses (including those former classmates who are now coming forward to say they heard about the attack at the time), and held under conditions favorable to the GOP and Kavanaugh.
Just a quick heads-up to these Republicans who think (and act) this way:
Be careful what you wish for. Because even if Republicans get their way with the hearing and go dancing in the aisle -- indeed because of Republicans getting their way by bullying a woman who claims she was attacked -- I have a feeling that they may have overlooked an important factor: the 19th Amendment, that women do now actually have the right to vote. (That's one reason why it's good to have women on a committee, to remind the menfolk of these things...) And I sense that women by a vast majority will be outraged in ways the GOP can't imagine. This includes women who were undecided how they would be voting in the mid-term elections, and women who weren't planning on voting in the mid-term elections, as well as women who will go out of their way to ensure as many other women as possible get to the polls for the mid-term elections. I suspect the old bromide, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," won't begin to reach the level of wrath we'll see.
Keep in mind that Brett Kavanaugh had one of the lowest approval ratings for a Supreme Court nominee in recent history -- and that was before this letter and its allegation became a story.
(Side note: despite Trump and all Republicans insisting that the FBI doesn't get involved and do this sort of thing, as Chuck Rosenberg, former Chief of Staff to the FBI Director, commented yesterday, the "I" in FBI stands for investigation.)
At this point, as much profound attention as has been placed on Mr. Kavanaugh getting a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court and on Trump who nominated him, I believe this story has changed focus somewhat. As I've been writing for many months, this is now no longer about Trump, and not even fully about Kavanaugh -- but it is about the elected officials of the Republican Party.
This story now is drawing attention to how the Republican Party trashed Anita Hill 27 years when she testified against the sexual abuse of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas -- and that they are not only doing it once again to Dr. Christine Balsey Ford, but in many ways are being worse. And amid a society that is now part of the MeToo generation.
And it's being done by the elected officials of the Republican Party. They're the one's setting the ground rules to bully Dr. Ford. They're the ones covering for Brett Kavanaugh. They're the one's not pushing for an FBI investigation. They're the one's setting timetables. They're the ones question whether Dr. Ford is just "confused" -- before even hearing her testimony.
It's Republicans who offer up endorsements for accused rapist Brett Kavanaugh from Trump, who has 16 women who have charged him sexual abuse, and Roy Moore, who is an accused pedophile.
I'm just going to guess most women notice all these things. And probably don't like them much. So, while Republicans are apparently feeling comforted that they might make it through the hearings, willful ignorance is no virtue. A Blue Wave may be the least of the GOP's tidal worries -- there could be a Women's Tsunami coming.
In the words of Trump, it could be the worst mid-term hurricane from the standpoint of water.
Because it's about the Republican Party.
Lest it fall through the cracks amid attention so focused on the Dr. Christine Ford's letter, there were A LOT of strong reasons to vote against Brett Kavanaugh even before it emerged. For starters, perjury is never a good quality in a Supreme Court Justice. Or a Federal Judge, for that matter...
There's a question concerning all this that hasn't really been discussed must yet. It's possible, of course, that the charges being made in the letter turn out to be false or unproven. However, it's just as possible (and being totally subjective, I'll say it's probable, or even likely) that they're true. If the former, then the nomination moves forward as before, and Mr. Kavanaugh will be voted on based on all the rush-through reasons the committee has allowed. But -- IF belief in the charges or evidence of them progress to the degree that Kavanaugh withdraws or enough Senators believe the accusations and reject him, that raises the little-discussed question. If Brett Kavanaugh is not approved for the Supreme Court because of having committed attempted rape over 30 years ago and lied about it today, doesn't that suggest he shouldn't be on the federal bench at all? And that he should be impeached or resign?
By the way, one of the Republican talking points through all this is to ask if one should be judged on the actions a person took over 30 years ago when in high school. I would suggest that we're not talking about applying for a job at Burger King, but a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, when standards of employment are the highest -- and should be. And attempted rape is most probably disqualifying from that job. (Not to mentioned, as noted above, any lifetime job on the federal court.) But far more to the point is that this is NOT just about what happened over 30 years ago...but today. If Republicans want to talk about how a person grows from their past transgressions, and that we should look at them today, great!, let's look at Brett Kavanaugh today. Because today, if the allegations are true, Brett Kavanaugh is a man denying vehemently that he he ever committed attempted rape, and assuming he's brought back before the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate the matter, he's a man who -- today -- (unless he decides to confess) is willing to lie under oath about it. That's who Brett Kavanaugh is today.
(Side note: I think it's proper for the press to report, as they have, that when Brett Kavanaugh has denied the charges, he "vehemently" denied them. But I think it's proper, as well, that if the press does that, for them to make just as clear that Dr. Ford has "emphatically" affirmed her charges.)
I don't know for absolute certain what the truth is here. I have my belief and reasons for it (among them, as I noted on Monday, it turns out that I have a distant overlap with someone who is longtime friends with Christine Ford. They talk often, and he is absolutely sure she is telling the truth), and think that the action did happen. But make no mistake, the issue at hand isn't only about three decades ago, but today. And what should be done in full, beyond just the Supreme Court, should the charges turn out to be true.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
Feedspot Badge of Honor