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The Kavanaugh fight shows we have not yet plumbed depths of Democratic ruthlessness

BY MARC A. THIESSEN Washington Post


President Trump apologized to Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his family for the “terrible pain and suffering” they endured during his confirmation process, declaring that “what happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process.” Democrats seem to be taking the opposite lesson from the Kavanaugh fight. As Politico recently tweeted, “After failing to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Democrats wonder if it’s time to be more ruthless.”

More ruthless? There are a lot of reasons the effort to stop Kavanaugh failed, but a lack of ruthlessness is not one of them. Kavanaugh’s opponents just tried to destroy a man without a shred of corroborating evidence. No tactic, no unfounded accusation, was too extreme. Democrats demanded that the FBI investigate not just Christine Blasey Ford’s uncorroborated accusations, but also the charge in the New Yorker’s hit piece that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to a college classmate, Deborah Ramirez, as well as the scurrilous accusation by Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick that Kavanaugh participated in gang rapes at high school parties. How can you get any more ruthless than unfounded accusations of gang rape?

Democrats did not lose the Kavanaugh fight because they were not ruthless enough. They lost because, as always, the left overreached. Their increasingly brazen and unsupported charges against Kavanaugh backfired, strengthening the GOP’s case that Kavanaugh was the victim of a political hit job, and actually helping to secure his confirmation.

They also lost because of their disastrous decision last year to filibuster the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, a justice of impeccable qualification and temperament. If Democrats had kept their powder dry then, they would still have had the filibuster in place when Kavanaugh was nominated. As it stands, Republicans were barely able to confirm Kavanaugh; they likely would never have been able muster the votes to invoke the nuclear option to get him onto the court.

In the case of Gorsuch, at least there was no attempt at character assassination. That was because he was a conservative justice replacing a conservative justice, the late Antonin Scalia. His confirmation simply restored the status quo ante. Kavanaugh, by contrast, was replacing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court’s key swing vote. His confirmation could swing the court’s ideological balance for a generation, so he had to be destroyed. If they did this to Kennedy’s replacement, think of what Democrats will do if, at some point in his presidency, Trump ends up nominating someone to replace a liberal Supreme Court justice. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than charges of gang rape, but I doubt we have yet plumbed the depths of the ruthlessness of which Democrats are capable.

Democrats have no one but themselves to blame for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Their strategic miscalculations, and embrace of what they once decried as the “politics of personal destruction,” backfired. And the reverberations may not yet be over. Since Kavanaugh’s hearings, the number of Republicans who say the November elections are “very important” has grown by 12 points to 80 percent – closing the enthusiasm gap with Democrats. The attacks on Kavanaugh have awoken a sleeping giant. It may not be enough to save the House, where Republicans are defending 25 seats in districts Hillary Clinton won. But the Kavanaugh fiasco may cost Democrats their chance to retake the Senate – and with it the power to block future Trump judicial nominations. If so, it means their search-and-destroy mission against Kavanaugh may end up handing Trump the ability to get even more Supreme Court justices confirmed.

Democrats have also given Republicans reason to look past their frustrations with Trump’s erratic behavior in office. Millions of Republicans put aside their misgivings and voted for Trump in 2016 for one reason: the Supreme Court. Now he has delivered. It has not escaped notice that he never once backed down in his support for Kavanaugh. Even at the lowest moments, there were no signs of wavering, no leaks from the White House that the president was quietly looking at potential replacements just in case Kavanaugh’s nomination failed. At his ceremonial swearing-in Monday, Kavanaugh thanked Trump for his “steadfast, unwavering support.” He’s right. The president stood firm until the end, and won. Now it’s time for Democrats to be honest with themselves about why they lost.

Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen.

  1. On October 10, 2018 at 12:51 pm,
    Snowy says:

    Now that the confirmation is over. I have wanted a FBI investigation into Dr. Ford to see if she is lying. That way she will be charged if they find her guilty of false acquisitions.

    • On October 10, 2018 at 1:02 pm,
      Bonzo Barzini says:

      I agree and would like the FBI to investigate the murder coverup of Vince Foster and Ron Brown, and the fraudulent Clinton Foundation.

      • On October 10, 2018 at 7:24 pm,
        David says:

        Still need an investigation of Kavanaugh. It never happened. Just another puppet for special interests. There are qualified Judges out there but partisan politics have destroyed the purpose of the SC. Wake up people.

        • On October 11, 2018 at 9:39 am,
          Al Korelin says:

          Thanks for the comment David,

          i would like to believe that he does not fall into the category of “another puppet for special interests”

          You never know, but I firmly believe that Trump nominated him with the idea of continuing the conservative nature of the court way into the future.

          • On October 11, 2018 at 7:28 pm,
            David says:

            If you mean by conservative vote of the SC to continue the pro-corporation vote of conservatives, I am sure he will do that. If you hoped for protection of individual rights, forget that. Example of conservative vote is 5-4 to pass Citizens United. Gave Corporations the right to buy politicians. The country needs to start following SC votes and not listen to partisan BS.

      • On October 11, 2018 at 9:31 am,
        Al Korelin says:

        Good Morning Bonzo,

        I think that we all would. As I mentioned above to Snowy, I don’t think that it will happen.

    • On October 11, 2018 at 9:29 am,
      Al Korelin says:

      Morning Snowy,

      I happen to agree with you, but I think that it is now “water under the bidge”

      I personally feel that that whole deal really hurt the Progressives assuming that our side truly gets active at the voting booth.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Big Al

  2. On October 10, 2018 at 1:15 pm,
    AJ says:
    • On October 10, 2018 at 1:25 pm,
      Snowy says:

      I will be voting democratic come November. There is too much hatred in the current Republican Party. They do not stand for fiscal conservatism. Farmers should not be given $12B in welfare for the trade war.

      People like Jair Bolsonaro are appearing and running for high positions. People with similar beliefs are too extreme for our current world.

      We need to go back to a world where Democrats and Republicans can work together. I do not believe Trump has shown any indication of willingness to work with the other side so for now Democrats have my vote

      • On October 10, 2018 at 3:58 pm,
        chris swenson says:

        Yep, and the demos have shown great desire to work with repubs in the last couple of years……sounds right to me………not.

        • On October 10, 2018 at 4:28 pm,
          Snowy says:

          Republicans barely get anything done with majority control of senate, White House, and House of Representatives. Democrats are at least unified.

          We have had an omnibus spending bill and no full year budget passed. With a deficit increasing exponentially under republican control never the less

          We have camps at the border holding children prisoner.

          A failure to repeal and replace Obama Care….

          A tax bill was passed, but even with that real wages are down. Trade deals were “fixed” with Canada by just removing dairy tariffs. China is not backing down from their own trade tariffs.

          I want to see political progress and republicans have failed to accomplish this. Conservative judges are in place, but other than that I don’t see much more the republicans can accomplish even with majority rule

      • On October 10, 2018 at 7:25 pm,
        David says:

        Trump is about Trump.

  3. On October 10, 2018 at 4:55 pm,
    Chartster says:

    This short lesson describes where the country is, and where it needs to go. Trump upholding the rule of law and exposing the socialists makes this 1966 video as relevant now, as it gets.

  4. On October 10, 2018 at 6:13 pm,
    Dick Tracy says:

    As the years go by and the scandals that The Clinton Administration and more recently Hillary came to light, people have realized that the scope of corruption has been larger than they imagined. What the country needed was a President who was friendly towards business. Somebody who would do what he said he would. The sort of President they needed was someone to promote the rights of business and not to profit by using their position in government, as The Clintons did. Trump is no angel but he wants to restore The United States as a country that appears to have integrity in it’s business dealings. This is a change from previous administrations.

  5. On October 10, 2018 at 7:07 pm,
    Rufust445 says:

    Reminds me of a comment a world reknowned quality control guru said more than once about U.S. manufacturing executives: “Just another sign of their desperation and incompetence.”

  6. On October 10, 2018 at 7:43 pm,
    Steven Rowlandson says:

    If putting Kavanaugh on the supreme court is part of an effort to restore the rule of law including the constitution then that could be a good thing. Clearly something needs to be done to bring the deep state and globalist oligarchs to heel and or to justice.