Friday, September 28, 2018


Just to get this out of the way: I fully expect Brett Kavanaugh to get the vote of every Republican on the Judiciary Committee this morning -- yes, including Jeff Flake -- and then the vote of every Republican, and probably two or more Democrats (Manchin and Donnelly for sure) when the nomination hits the full Senate. There'll be no delay, despite calls for one by the American Bar Association, which had given Kavanaugh its highest rating.

I gather Flake is doing a Hamlet act, but remember that he sees himself as representing a pre-Trump conservatism, and Kavanaugh is a proud part of that pre-Trump GOP establishment. (Please note that George W. Bush is making calls on Kavanaugh's behalf.) Flake will march in lockstep.


There's good work being published on yesterday's hearings, and then there's this -- John Harris's Politico Magazine piece, which is industrial-strength bothsidesism.
... earlier are-you-watching-this?! moments, when politics and culture collided on live television amid revelations and recriminations, were inevitably accompanied by furrowed-brow commentary gravely asking, “Where will this all lead?”

Now we know: This all leads to a hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office building, where Brett Kavanaugh and senators of both parties over eight hallucinatory hours on Wednesday served up the distilled essence of a potion—a toxic mixture of foaming malice, self-righteousness and conspiracy theory—that has been brewing for nearly three decades.

... notable was the casual fluency in which all the Washington actors—Kavanaugh very much among them—spoke in the language of contempt toward their adversaries. The insults and assertions of bad faith—Democrats manipulated the timing of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation going public for political purposes; Republicans are purposefully stifling a full investigation—flowed like second nature.
But it's a plain statement of fact that Republicans are purposefully stifling a full investigation. Democrats wanted an FBI investigation; they wanted Mark Judge subpoenaed. Why, at least, wasn't the subpoena issued? Why weren't other Kavanaugh accusers heard from? Republicans said no. Why was it "toxic" to say so?

And I know that even many non-Republicans believe that Democrats "manipulated the timing of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation going public for political purposes," although the truth is that Blasey Ford requested anonymity and her request was granted. But can someone please tell me what advantage Democrats gained from a later rather than earlier revelation of the story? They got a hearing that was hastily thrown together, with no possibility of follow-up. That was the payoff? That's what they got for their alleged bad faith?

It was Bill Clinton who made famous the phrase “the politics of personal destruction.” His compromised sex life made him far from the ideal messenger but there was little denying his essential point. It was that his generation of baby boomers, who grew up arguing over sex, drugs and Vietnam and never stopped their rancid debate over every dimension of culture and ideology, had developed a style of politics in which the best way to defeat an argument was to say that it flowed from the defective character of the person making it. The opposition was wicked, deceitful—not just wrong-headed but wrong-hearted.
Bill Clinton never stopped trying to reach out to Republicans. In a 1993 slip of the tongue, he even made reference in a speech to "my fellow Republicans." It was Newt Gingrich whose GOPAC political action committee recommended using such words as "traitors," "intolerant," "sick," and "abuse of power" in reference to (presumably all) Democrats.
One grim possibility raised by the Kavanaugh hearing is that the politics of personal destruction has become so ritualized that it has become the politics of institutional destruction.
Who's destroying the institution of the Supreme Court -- the party that wants to put a now unabashed partisan hack who may also be a rapist on the Court, or the party that wants to prevent this? Opinions differ!
Kavanaugh is a generation younger than Clinton but it seems possible that his nomination could become a symbol of a brand of politics that doesn’t even nod to the notion that long-term stewardship of democratic institutions is a shared responsibility.
In paragraph after paragraph, no one is responsible -- it's just "politics."
In a day of emotional peaks, one of the last belonged to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who sometimes gets hailed as an example of a bridge-builder across partisan lines but not on this day.
And not on any day in the future, I can safely predict.
In an angry outburst that set the tone for the remainder of the afternoon, he called the session “a sham.”

Then he uttered words that it is possible, these days, to imagine almost any senator of either party uttering about the other party: “Boy, you guys want power. I hope you never get it.”
Except that no Democrat said that Republicans should never hold power (even though that's true). All the cranked-to-eleven histrionics yesterday were from the right, yet Harris is saying they could have come from either direction.

They didn't. This is bothsidesist nonsense.

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