Sunday, September 23, 2018


Brett Kavanaugh's polling is terrible -- in a Fox News survey, 50% of respondent say they wouldn't vote to confirm him, while 40% would -- but I think he'll make it, especially after this:
CNN has learned that the committee has reached out to a longtime friend of Ford named Leland Ingham Keyser.

"I understand that you have been identified as an individual who was in attendance at a party that occurred circa 1982 described in a recent Washington Post article," a committee staffer wrote Keyser earlier this week.

On Saturday night, her lawyer, Howard Walsh, released a statement to CNN and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Simply put," Walsh said, "Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford."
Even though...
The Washington Post reported late Saturday that it had talked to Keyser, who told the paper she believed Ford's allegation.
Both Keyser and Blasey Ford could be telling the complete truth -- Keyser was at the gathering but wasn't aware of the incident because it took place in another room of the house and was never discussed afterward; Keyser attended with Kavanaugh but doesn't know Kavanaugh.

(In your teens and twenties, how many parties, or even impromptu gatherings, did you attend at which people you'd never met showed up? Did you get know all of these people? Probably not. Also, do you think you were aware at the time of every consensual hookup that took place off in some corner of every party you attended? If your focus was elsewhere, would you know? Would you recall them all now? Remember, no one talked about this at the time as an attempted rape. And as Blasey Ford's lawyer said in a statement, "It's ... unremarkable that Ms. Keyser does not remember attending a specific gathering 30 years ago at which nothing of consequence happened to her. Dr. Ford of course will never forget this gathering because of what happened to her there." )

It's conceivable that Keyser is choosing the course of least resistance. Her life isn't so great these days:
Keyser is married to John Keyser, who initiated the women’s golf program at Georgetown. At some point, Keyser suffered a neck injury that led to her announcing her departure from Georgetown in 2005.

Of his wife’s injury, John Keyser said in an interview with Blue Ocean Common Wealth, “My wife had become a bit disabled and I retired to become a caregiver and soccer mom for the kids....”
Maybe she has a dim memory of Kavanaugh's presence, but no firm recollection. She doesn't remember the specific incident because it took place out of her sight. She's physically impaired now. She probably started receiving death threats the minute the Washington Post story went live. Why go to the Capitol with dim memories so she can be second-guessed by pro-Kavanaugh senators and have her reputation trashed by the online right?

Now the right can say that all three named witnesses deny what happened, even though two are the alleged perpetrator and his alleged accomplice, Mark Judge (who we now know is a creepy and despicable human being), and the third is a man who's as unlikely to have registered the incident as Keyser was (and who might also be operating under the bro code that seems to bind all these overgrown prepster boys for life).

Senate Republicans will attempt to appear reasonable and non-sexist as they cast doubt on Blasey Ford's story when she testifies -- that might be a struggle, but I think they'll try their damnedest. They'll hope that Democrats overreach in questioning Kavanaugh (and if Democrats don't, the right's media machine will take something a Democrat says out of context and turn it into a fauxtrage). Many, most recently Lindsey Graham, have said that nothing that emerges in the hearing will change their minds. At least they're being honest about that.

It's conceivable that Blasey Ford will be so compelling as a witness that she'll derail this express train -- but I find Anita Hill's testimony extraordinarily compelling and plausible, and yet that changed nothing. (Among other things, former judge Alex Kozinski's obsession with forcing porn on female subordinates only makes what Hill said about Thomas's porn talk seem more believable.)

The GOP will take a hit from confirming Kavanaugh, but not with women per se -- it'll be with non-conservative and better-educated women. (In the Fox poll, 44% of white women without college degrees believe Kavanaugh, and only 24% believe Blasey Ford.) I'm sure Republicans are calculating that they've already lost a large percentage of the women they'll anger, but they'll infuriate and de-motivate their own base if Kavanaugh isn't approved.

If you think rubber-stamping Kavanaugh in late September will be a death blow to the GOP, remember that the Access Hollywood tape hit landed in early October of 2016, and Donald Trump won anyway. There'll be a great deal of headline-grabbing news between now and November. This will matter, but don't assume it will be front of mind for most people by Election Day.

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