Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s always refreshing to hear honesty from an elected representative, no matter the agenda or party.
That’s why I have to give Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, an “Atta boy!” for his tweet on Friday about embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“Yes, of course there should be an FBI investigation,” Murphy tweeted. “But whatever they find doesn’t change the fact that Kavanaugh, especially after his performance yesterday, is the most dangerous Supreme Court pick of our lifetime.”
This, of course, is the real issue for Democrats. It doesn’t matter if the FBI’s rooting around in Kavanaugh’s proverbial attic turns up nothing but dust bunnies - as I suspect it will - or whether it reveals that Kavanaugh is nothing more than a half-drunk cad in a black robe. The Democrats don’t like him, will never support him and will do anything possible to stop him from being confirmed.
They’ve said so themselves.
Back in July, Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said he would oppose Kavanaugh “with everything” he had.
“Judge Kavanaugh got the nomination because he passed this litmus test, not because he’ll be an impartial judge on behalf of all Americans,” Schumer said. “If he were to be confirmed, women’s reproductive rights would be in the hands of five men on the Supreme Court.”
And there we are. This is really about abortion. Whether the Democrats really believe Kavanaugh would be a threat to Roe v. Wade or whether they are using it as a rallying cry for their base is a topic for another time, but the goal is the same either way. They are going to use whatever they have to stop him.
What they have now is what seems to be credible testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. Kavanaugh has denied it, going as far during last week’s hearing to claim he’s being railroaded by liberals bent on destroying him. There have also been other uncorroborated allegations made against Kavanaugh, who has denied all of them.
I don’t know what the truth is, but I do know that Democrats now have a bit of a problem.
They were caught off guard last week when Republican Sen. Jeff Flake cut a deal. In what might turn out to be a masterstroke by Republicans, Flake offered the Democrats the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh for which they had been clamoring. President Donald Trump then matter-of-factly ordered the investigation. Why?
Because he knows that this ultimately might be the best thing that happened to him, if not to Kavanaugh. And remember, we know that President Trump’s primary concern is, and always will be, President Trump.
And now the Democrats have their investigation. But it’s not enough.
“A fundamental question the FBI can help answer is whether Judge Kavanaugh has been truthful with the committee,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote last weekend. “This goes to the very heart of whether he should be confirmed to the court.”
No, it really doesn’t, which is why the Democrats never brought it up until after everyone agreed that the FBI would investigate Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh. Nor did the Democrats - until Monday - raise the issue of expanding the FBI probe into allegations made by Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez, each of whom have made unsubstantiated claims against Kavanaugh.
It’s almost as if the Democrats never expected to get what they wanted. Now that they have it, they want more.
“These three women have come forward at great personal risk, identified themselves by name, submitted written allegations to the Committee, and requested an FBI investigation,” Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to FBI Director Chris Wray on Monday.
Clearly, the Democrats are worried that the investigation into Ford’s claims will turn up nothing. If that happens, the Republicans can move forward, likely with the swing votes of Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in hand.
However, if the investigation does turn up something, the Republicans will jettison Kavanaugh faster than the Enterprise jettisoned the late Mr. Spock in Wrath of Kahn. The GOP will then quickly move to its No. 2 choice. Remember, Republicans care more about the seat on the court than Kavanaugh himself. That sounds harsh but that’s politics.
The Democrats need to be careful about overreaching. They’ve been making noises about impeachment. But if they continue to resist after Kavanaugh is confirmed, what they see as a righteous fight could wind up looking like a temper tantrum if they overplay their hand.
And the last thing we need is politicians stomping their feet, even though we’ve grown accustomed to the noise.
Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.