Over the past few weeks of the Kavanaugh debacle I expected the Republicans to cave. Why? Because when it comes right down to it, the party leadership isn’t all that smart. When the Tea Party rose, they neutered it. The fight to overturn Obamacare? They bravely fled the field of battle. And when it comes to standing up to the Democrats they’ve always struck me as guys who bring knives to a gun fight. Or to use a less violent analogy, Charlie Brown to Lucy Van Pelt. Like Charlie Brown I think deep down the Republican leadership wants to be liked, and the Democrat’s are happy to leverage this feeling using their media allies to twist and bend anything the GOP says to fit their narrative of the party being a bunch of racist, sexist, gun-toting trolls.
So when at the 11th Hour Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Crazytown) released charges that she had sat on for 6 weeks, I felt for sure the GOP would take a run at the football by sacrificing Kavanaugh. And while waiting for Kavanaugh to speak after Ford on September 27 I thought Lucy’s temptation was just too great, particularly for senators like Susan Collins (R-ME) who is less of a Republican in that state than most Democrats in any state outside of New York and California.
Then something remarkable happened in that hearing. Kavanaugh stood up for himself. He didn’t hold back and there were several times I found myself shouting at the screen “Stop crying you damn wuss!” but his anger and his testimony were making the Republicans on the Judiciary committee look positively tough – almost bad-ass if you can imagine ever calling a Republican senator the term.
Lindsay Graham (R-SC): “If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us! What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat, and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that. Not me! You’ve got nothing to apologize for. When you see [Justices] Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them that Lindsey said hello to them, because I voted for them. I would never do to them what you’ve done to this guy! This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics, and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you have done to this guy.” Holy crap! Graham on national TV was channeling Joseph Welch, the attorney who stood up to Joe McCarthy and single-handedly took the demagogue down. Graham sounded angry, he sounded mean, he sounded like… well definitely not like a Republican.
Kavanaugh’s performance was so good, and the Republican’s refusal to sacrifice the guy so strong thanks to Graham, it sent the Democrats back to the drawing board to dream up another attack strategy. The issue became Kavanaugh’s fitness for office because he directly and forcefully denied the allegations instead of Ford’s testimony.
And let me mention that testimony for a moment.
I heard from two women about that testimony, one of them was a member of the first generation of women to serve as enlisted in the US Navy in the 1970s. Both had worse things happen to them than what Ford reported, and both found her testimony less than convincing. Both women were suspicious about Ford’s lack of detail and her memory 35 years in the past. Both wondered why her allegations had never surfaced before late in the summer when Kavanaugh had been investigated for the Supreme Court for several weeks. While the media was happy to take her charges at face value, they both questioned her credibility, something that the GOP was too scared to do.
So if Kavanaugh denied the charges forcefully he was unfit for the job because he was “partisan” or a “drunk.” If he had not defended himself so forcefully – something the Trump administration feared the most due to his laid back temperament – the Democrats and their media allies would have said “See? His calm demeanor proves that he cannot defend his actions.” Kavanaugh was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t – no surprise since the Left were going to crucify anyone Trump nominated to the bench.
So that evening I knew that Kavanaugh was still in the game. The GOP had found something it had never found before, something remarkable: its spine.
The seat was clinched on Friday night, and it came from a place where I least expected it. Susan Collins.
I like Maine. It’s a great state and I have many Mainers for friends. But Maine is full of vegans and Suburus, it’s not known for barbecue and pickups which are usually associated with conservatives. Although I hoped Collins would support Kavanaugh, I wasn’t expecting her to do so vociferously. On Friday night Maine’s coon cat suddenly became a cougar.
Sen Collins (R-ME): “The President nominated Brett Kavanaugh on July 9th. Within moments of that announcement, special interest groups raced to be the first to oppose him, including one organization that didn’t even bother to fill in the Judge’s name on its pre-written press release – they simply wrote that they opposed “Donald Trump’s nomination of XX to the Supreme Court of the United States.” A number of Senators joined the race to announce their opposition, but they were beaten to the punch by one of our colleagues who actually announced opposition before the nominee’s identity was even known.” Watch the video. It’s like watching a mom dress down her kids. I expected her to let Kavanaugh take the seat, but not deliver body-blows to those who opposed him while he did so.
This definitely was not my father’s GOP. Last night for the first time in the 16 years I have belonged to the party, I felt proud to be a Republican. I’m sure the feeling will pass as it must and the GOP will return to its Charlie Brown ways, but for once the Stupid Party has done the smart thing, and all rank and file party members and their grassroots supporters should be proud of it.