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Thursday, September 20, 2018


Advanced Kavanaugh calculus

by Tom Sullivan

Chart via Axios.

The calculus behind bringing the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to its denouement has become Hawking-level complex. Allegations of a sexual assault in high school and the prospect of testimony by Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, threaten to wrest confirmation from Senate Republicans' grasp.

Republicans are hell-bent to have this process over with before the mid-terms. Sen. Lindsay Graham gave away the game yesterday on Twitter:

Why the deadline? Graham doesn't explain. Greg Sargent does at Plum Line. Should the GOP lose the Senate in November, their position will be weakened and pushing through this nominee or any replacement nominee becomes that much tougher:
The Wall Street Journal editorial board is helpfully explicit on the real calculus here as well, warning: “If Democrats take the Senate majority, they’ll then insist on no vote until the new Senate convenes in January.” Republicans would not listen to that, of course, but as this basically concedes, moving forward at that point would put them in a politically brutal position.

By the way, Democrats may well partly want to delay this until after the midterms. But even if true, the fact that Republicans are citing this is still revealing. Republicans, after all, could support a fuller investigation into what happened while also getting in the vote before the elections — there is still time for both. The only thing that would delay this until after the elections is if Kavanaugh’s nomination became untenable due to that fuller investigation, forcing Trump to nominate a replacement. Thus, that is what they really want to avoid — a fuller accounting that could scuttle the nomination.
Should a fuller accounting be inconclusive, Sargent argues, that could actually strengthen the case for Kavanaugh's confirmation. But time and news cycles are not on the GOP's side. The longer Dr. Ford's accusation remains in public view, the more damage Republicans incur even if they succeed in putting Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

Yesterday's gut-punch account of a high school rape case by Elizabeth Bruenig cast a stark light on the issue. Amber Wyatt found herself smeared and shunned for accusing two athletes or raping her after a night of drinking at a teen party. Despite physical evidence, there were no charges, no trials. Instead, the word FAITH appeared chalked on school sidewalks and on students's cars. An acronym, she learned, "meaning 'f--- Amber in the head,' or 'f--- Amber in three holes.'"

Over a thousand alumnae of the Holton-Arms School Ford attended signed an open letter supporting her. “Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves,” they write.

Women from the same "private school culture suffused by alcohol and drugs" that existed in upper Northwest Washington and Maryland suburbs provide the Washington Post with additional accounts, of "excess and illegality that went widely unchecked by parents and school leaders" in the 1980s.

The same story quotes several graduates of Kavanaugh's Georgetown Prep who "corroborate the impression that alcohol was an integral part of the school’s identity at the time and that heavy drinking and disregard or mistreatment of women were widely accepted."

Senate Republicans want this flood of reports quashed before it drowns their nominee:
Already burdened by an unpopular president and an energized Democratic electorate, the male-dominated GOP is now facing a torrent of scrutiny about how it is handling Kavanaugh’s accuser and whether the party’s push to install him on the high court by next week could come at a steep political cost with women and the independent voters who are the keystone for congressional majorities.
Whether or not Ford will appear on Monday before an adversarial GOP panel without additional FBI examination of her claims is in question. Iowa's Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, has set a Friday deadline for Ford to supply a full statement if she expects to appear on Monday. Sargent reminds readers Grassley originally wanted a private hearing out of public view. Under pressure for a public hearing, he's giving Ford the bum's rush.

Should Kavanaugh's nomination fail, Axios reports, Democrats expect to use the still-open seat "to crank up a presidential-election-sized campaign" between now and November 6 to turn the election into "a referendum not just on President Trump but also women’s rights, abortion and the future of the Supreme Court."

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.