Politics & Policy

Democrats Want Their Pound of Kavanaugh Flesh  

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, September 4, 2018. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
They want to make sure that, if confirmed, he’s damaged goods in the public eye.

The 27-year-old “Anita Hill” strategy of digging for dirt on a Supreme Court nominee didn’t work with Clarence Thomas back in 1991. But desperate times for liberals call for desperate measures.

Just as with Anita Hill, no doubt it took a concentrated effort of importuning by a host of liberal Senate staffers and interest-group partisans to wrest from another college professor a last-minute allegation of sexual misbehavior designed to sink a Supreme Court appointment at the eleventh hour.

Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old professor at Palo Alto University in California, has confirmed to the Washington Post her account that when she and Brett Kavanaugh were in high school in the 1980s, he pinned her to a bed. Ford told the Post that Kavanaugh “groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it.”

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford said. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” Nonetheless, she was able to free herself and leave the house unmolested. At the time, Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, the friend she alleges was with him, were both students at Georgetown Preparatory School.

Judge told The Weekly Standard last week that the allegation against Kavanaugh is “just absolutely nuts.” A total of 65 women who knew the judge in high school sent a letter to the Senate last Friday stating, “He has always treated women with decency and respect.”

As Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley pointed out, “Judge Kavanaugh’s background has been thoroughly vetted by the FBI on six different occasions throughout his decades of public service, and no such allegation ever surfaced.” Perhaps also of note is that Ford seems to have airbrushed all politics out of her online profile, including her professional bio on LinkedIn, though according to public records she has made small contributions to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Friends of Bernie Sanders.

For her part, Ford says she hasn’t spoken with Kavanaugh about any such incident or mentioned it to anyone until 2012; it came up then when the 45-year-old was having relationship therapy. The notes of Ford’s therapist include mention of an incident with students who became “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington,” but no names were given.

Regardless of the validity of the accusation, the timing on it is straight out of Anita Hill. The woman is said to have approached Senate Democrats in July, but two months later, in the public hearing, Kavanaugh was never asked about the incident, nor did it come up in the 1,278 written follow-up questions he has since answered.

The New Yorker magazine implies that the reason for the delay in bringing up the incident is that Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is now suddenly worried that she will be blamed for “going easy” on Judge Kavanaugh. Senator Feinstein faces a left-wing Democrat in the November election, whom she currently leads in the polls by 40 points. Similar claims were made against Joe Biden, when he was the ranking member of Senate Judiciary Committee and apparently didn’t move in for the kill against Clarence Thomas with enough vigor. Those claims never seemed to hurt Joe Biden’s career.

All of this will strike some as a Hail Mary pass by Senate Democrats who want to delay any confirmation vote and spare their colleagues running in states Trump won from having to cast a vote on Kavanaugh. In the #MeToo atmosphere of today, there’s no telling what a roll of accusatory dice might bring.

I fear we are about to relive at least part of the national psychodrama over Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. That ideological maelstrom transfixed the country and divided it into bitter warring camps of Thomas supporters and Hill sympathizers. And that was when there was just one 24-hour cable news channel and no Internet or social media.

As we enter what’s likely to be another sad episode in the borking of Supreme Court nominees, we’d do well to remember that after the American people heard both sides in the Clarence Thomas–Anita Hill slugfest, they believed Thomas by a two-to-one margin. Something similar may happen again, but if liberals fail to derail Kavanaugh, they will still try for a consolation prize.

After Clarence Thomas was confirmed by a vote of 52 to 48 in 1991, we had a drumbeat of books, articles, and conferences all dedicated to rewriting the history of the incident. Two years later, a Newsweek poll showed that most of those surveyed believed Hill, even though no new evidence had been uncovered.

So even if Brett Kavanaugh takes his seat on the Supreme Court, liberals will have extracted a pound of flesh. Just as with the Florida recount of 2000 and the Trump election of 2016, any confirmation will be branded as suspect and accomplished only through brutish tactics and the wholesale disregard for the truth. The effort to sink Kavanaugh is not just a naked attempt to change a confirmation vote but to forever brand him as illegitimate.

 

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