Just in time for the off-year elections, Democrats have managed to boof themselves again. By focusing on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s high school hijinks, rather than his bad advice and bad judgements as an adult, they have turned a sniveling, snarling, privileged prep school Yalie into a sympathetic victim. Even worse, they have allowed the Bully in Chief to look holier than thou when he in effect told reporters and senators that thee who be without sin cast the first stone.
To recap: During the Bill Clinton impeachment ordeal, Kavanaugh advised Special Prosecutor Ken Starr to ask the president sexually explicit questions, which was a perjury trap because everyone lies about sex. (Which is ironic, since Kavanaugh may have stepped into a perjury trap of his own design.)
During the George W. Bush administration, Kavanaugh was part of the administration’s legal department that claimed torture was a presidential prerogative. (He denies knowing anything about the so-called torture memos.)
During President Barack Obama’s administration, as an appellate court judge he ruled dozens of times against a presidential prerogative to issue environmental regulations, and he dissented in two cases that upheld the Affordable Care Act.
During President Donald Trump’s administration, he ruled against an illegal immigrant seeking an abortion (his decision was overturned), and he has what is called an “expansive” view of presidential powers, opining that sitting presidents shouldn’t be indicted and can pardon anyone, possibly even themselves. And if confirmed, he is likely to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Because of his pro-business, anti-union, anti-environment, anti-affirmative action, anti-gun control and anti-choice stances, and because he perjured himself multiple times during his confirmation hearing, there are plenty of policy and ethical reasons to oppose Kavanaugh. But Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee instead zeroed in on whether the Supreme Court nominee copped a feel in high school.
Before you go all #metoo on me, I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and I believe Judge Kavanaugh owes her an apology, for which there is no statute of limitations. But beyond that… “Boys will be boys” isn’t a defense; it’s a fact of life. Alleged victims have a right to be heard, but not a right to vengeance, and the accused also have rights. There has been scant corroborating evidence of any of the sexual allegations against Kavanaugh, which doesn’t make him innocent, but it does make him presumed innocent.
Even though I don’t believe dishonorable behavior in high school or college disqualifies one from becoming a Supreme Court justice, “whatever it takes” to Bork Kavanaugh was fine with me. There’s also the matter of payback for the Republicans stealing the Supreme Court seat that should have been filled by President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland. And since all the other objections to Kavanaugh have little persuasive power over conservatives — they are for that stuff — desperate Democrats tried to play the #metoo card. (Much of the feigned outrage over the timing of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s last minute ploy is disingenuous. Anyone who has seen a courtroom drama knows a clever lawyer, especially on the losing side, will wait to the end to spring a surprise witness.) Though ultimately doomed to failure, it achieved the goal of delaying the proceedings, and the public got to see another — some might say the real — Brett Kavanaugh.
But by obsessing over sex, drinking, yearbooks and calendars, the Dems overplayed their hand. They trivialized their opposition and turned Kavanaugh into a right-wing martyr. And if the latest NPR/Marist poll is accurate, the circus in the Senate also caused the enthusiasm gap Democrats enjoyed going into the November election to evaporate.
Trump voters are scary enough without getting them riled up (which is most of the time), and Kavanaugh will be confirmed anyway. At this point, instead of bitching and moaning that the FBI report was incomplete, the best thing Democrats can do is accept defeat and concede that elections do have consequences. They should also apologize to Judge Kavanaugh, whether he deserves one or not. He’s likely to be on the Supreme Court for decades, and right now he has a huge hard-on for Democrats, liberals, feminists and fellow travelers.
Politically, the worst thing for Democrats would be to win the battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination, because it could cause them to lose the elections in November. Conceding defeat might calm down conservatives and motivate progressives to have their own consequences at the polls.