In an editorial today, the Washington Post argues that “Republicans boast they have not pulled a Kavanaugh. In fact, they’ve treated Jackson worse.” A “woman credibly accused Mr. Kavanaugh of sexual assault,” the editorial board maintains, and “Democrats rightly asked the committee to investigate.”
Was that the extent of the incident? Because, as I recall, Senator Dianne Feinstein sat on Blasey Ford’s letter accusing Kavanaugh of rape for six weeks before using it as a last-ditch smear against the nominee. Initially, Democrats didn’t even want Blasey Ford to testify under oath. They simply demanded that Kavanaugh step aside. They continued to do so even after the FBI investigated the accusations.
Credibility is subjective. The question is: Would any decent reporter move ahead with a story of an uncorroborated allegation dating back to 1982, in which the accuser could not recall either the place where the attack supposedly happened or the time, or provide any contemporaneous witnesses that could prove she had ever even met the attacker — who, it should be noted, had never been accused of anything untoward in the subsequent 35 years? It’s highly doubtful. Even her close high-school friend, who Ford said was at the party where the alleged assault took place, was skeptical of the accusation. Perhaps none of this is dispositive, but it certainly didn’t rise to “credible.”
Even before any of that happened, Kavanaugh was being hammered with hyperbolic accusations that he was a corrupt dupe who was threatening “the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come.” The future vice president argued that “his nomination presents an existential threat to the health care of hundreds of millions of Americans.” Senators wanted to know about every beer Kavanaugh consumed, every sexual interaction he might have engaged in, in high school, every grounding his parents gave him, every inside joke in his yearbook, to paint him as a deviant. This was all before Harris entered unsubstantiated gang-rape allegations into the congressional record. The Kavanaugh hearing degenerated into a lurid circus that makes the Jackson hearing look like the Algonquin Round Table.
The Post goes on to make other highly debatable claims, arguing, for instance, that by refusing to give Merrick Garland an up-or-down vote in 2016, “Republicans have done the most damage” in the judicial nomination fights. Apparently, they are forgetting the Bork and Thomas circuses, and Harry Reid’s eradication of the judicial filibuster. That, though, is a political debate. I find most of the questioning by Republicans over the past few days to be more silly than useful. But that’s basically my view of most congressional hearings. Yet asking a nominee to answer questions about her judicial philosophy and political positions (whether they concern the sentencing of child pornographers or how to define “woman”) is totally normal. The idea that it’s worse than leveling smears meant to delegitimize both a nominee and the Court — as the Post does, smearing Kavanaugh all over again in this editorial — is delusional.
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