The Corner

Politics & Policy

What’s in It for Republicans?

Vox’s Dylan Matthews tries to catch Senator Feinstein’s Hail Mary pass, even as he acknowledges that we can at present see no ball:

What’s “in it for Republicans?” You mean other than refusing to establish a precedent by which any nominee for anything can be vetoed by vague, anonymous, half-peddled, whisper-driven accusations? If Kavanaugh withdraws now, while the charge against him remains glued to the shadows, he ensures that nobody in politics will ever again need to flesh out their accusations, and all but guarantees that the minority party in the Senate will be able to kill any figure at any time on the basis of nothing more than innuendo. I can certainly see why that would appeal to Matthews: It would hand him a magic wand with which to eliminate from public life anyone he so much as disdains. But for “Republicans” — and, indeed, for America — it would be suicidal, not to mention deeply, deeply unjust.

It would be suicidal because it would ensure that eleventh-hour efforts would be marshaled against every qualified nominee from now until the end of time. It would be unjust because it would ensure that innocent people would be railroaded and, in time, that good people stayed well clear of politics lest their names be unfairly sullied (note that ThinkProgres has already laundered “we have a letter” into “Kavanaugh is a rapist”). As usual, Vox and its fellow travelers seem unaware that there are two sides to this equation, not just one. It would, of course, be terrible if Kavanaugh’s accuser was telling the truth and she wasn’t believed. But it would also be terrible — and just as terrible — if Kavanaugh were falsely accused, and if that false accusation stuck. One of the many, many problems with the insistence that we must always reflexively believe the accuser is that it fails to take account of this fact.

Naturally, Republicans should refuse to be sucked into such an immoral arrangement. If there is a case here, it should be publicly aired, publicly examined, and publicly debated. While there is not, the answer to any would-be short-circuiters must be “no, no, no, no, no,” for any other path will lead us down the path to superstition, to caprice, and, ultimately, to the habitual presumption of guilt. And the long-term losers from that transformation will look a lot different than Judge Kavanaugh.

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