Thursday, October 4, 2018

Character Assassination Attempt on Kavanaugh Hurting Swing State Democratic Senate Candidates

It is being reported that the supplemental FBI report has failed to corroborate the sexual assault allegation made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  Not surprising.  We're talking an allegation of something that supposedly happened 36 years ago between high school kids for which there was only one other witness.

Likewise, the report apparently didn't find corroboration for the allegation by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her in college.  Again, not surprising given the age of the supposed event and the lack of people present. 

Judge Brett Kavanaugh
I am roughly the age of Kavanaugh.  I couldn't begin to tell you what parties I attended in high schools a matter of fundamental fairness is on the accuser to prove it happened.   The notion that the burden switches to the accused because Supreme Court confirmation is only a "job interview" and not a criminal or civil matter is to ignore the reality that a person's career and reputation is at stake.  For many people that is a much bigger matter than the potential consequences associated with a criminal charge or a civil lawsuit. 
and college (though there weren't that many) or what I did during those parties.  If I had to prove something didn't happen 36 years ago, I'd be screwed.  It is virtually impossible for someone to prove a negative, i.e. that something that did not happen.  That is why the burden of proof a

I watched some of Dr. Ford's Senate testimony and didn't think she was a particularly strong witness.  I was shocked when viewing the news coverage universally lauded her testimony as being credible and persuasive.  (As an attorney, I've seen plenty of witnesses who were more credible witnesses than Ford despite the fact they were lying.)  There was a lack of critical media coverage of Dr. Ford's  testimony, in particular pointing out the inconsistencies in the story she was telling.  Then Kavanaugh opponents and the media further overreached, digging up every negative thing they could on the judge and including drinking habits, yearbook entries, etc.  It appeared they were moving the goalposts and piling on.

Not surprisingly, that approach spurred a backlash.  There were Republicans like me who had serious reservations about Kavanaugh's views on his perceived lack of constitutional limits of executive power and refusal to agree to recuse himself on matters relating to the Russian investigation, a matter of grave concern to the future of President Trump who appointed him.  But when I saw Democrats ditch what could have been a legitimate argument against Kavanaugh's confirmation to engage in 11th hour character assassination, I went to my partisan corner.  I will never forget the disgusting spectacle of the Democrats' last minute attempt to smear Clarence Thomas' reputation to keep him off the bench.  Like Kavanaugh, an FBI investigation did not corroborate the accusation against Thomas. But Kavanaugh can bet, like as to Thomas, history will be rewritten so he is guilty.

Kavanaugh's approval numbers are in the toilet, though much of that is tied to his close association with a very unpopular President.   Nonetheless, the Kavanaugh confirmation is a voting issue for many conservatives in red-leaning states with Democratic Senators on the ballot this year.  Republican challengers in those states are seeing their numbers surge of late.  In North Dakota, challenger and GOP congressmen Ken Kramer is shockingly 12 points ahead of Democrat Senator Heidi Heitkamp.  In Tennessee, Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was even or slightly behind former governor Phil Bresden.  But the Kavanaugh confirmation battle has given her a recent 5 point lead.  My guess is that West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin will soon announce his support for Kavanaugh to avoid the sinking poll numbers fate of other red state Democratic Senators.   I think there is also an outside possibility that Indiana's Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly will reverse course and back Kavanaugh.

If Kavanaugh is, as I suspect, confirmed, my guess is that recent GOP enthusiasm for the mid-terms will wain while Democratic turnout in the mid-terms will soar.  Thus, the Kavanaugh surge for Republicans is probably short-lived.  That is just the way these things work.  When one side gets what they want, they tend to relax while the losing side gets energized.

Clarence Thomas' success in fending off Anita Hill's sexual harassment claim came at a price.  It led  led to the Democratic backlash in 1992 referred to as the "Year of the Woman."  Then that 1992 Democratic victory led to the great Republican wave in 1994. 

Likewise, that period (the early 1990s) marked the end of a several year period when character issues, including sexual misconduct, played a front and central role in politics. People though grew tired of the emphasis put on those character issues resulting in the pendulum swinging back, allowing Bill Clinton and Donald Trump to become President despite their well-documented history of sexual misconduct.

Republicans, with Kavanaugh, are likely to win this round.  But the Kavanaugh confirmation is likely to rebound to help the Democrats prevail in November.

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