It seems like we can’t go very long into a discussion on the Kavanaugh scandal without someone on the left bringing up Merrick Garland.
Here’s the thing – not voting on Garland was a power play by Senate Republicans. Let’s admit that. Republicans had the power so they got their way.
But the Kavanaugh scandal is supposed to be about justice for a victim of sexual assault. If so, why even mention Garland? Why, unless to Democrats this isn’t about a woman they believe was assaulted but is instead a power play of their own?
So let’s take a look at the Democrats’ actions with this in mind.
To start with, Sen. Feinstein, the highest ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, received a letter from Christine Blasey Ford in late July that accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. After Feinstein received the letter, she did not alert the FBI or other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. After Feinstein received the letter, she met with Kavanaugh privately and did not ask him about the accusation. After Feinstein received the letter, she questioned Kavanaugh in a public committee hearing and did not ask him about the charge. Six weeks after receiving the letter, only when the hearing was done and the Judiciary Committee was preparing to vote on the nomination, did she forwarded the letter to the FBI and immediately go to the press with a then anonymous accusation.
This is a serious charge. A nominee for the highest court in the land has been accused of a heinous crime. Naturally, the Democrats demanded the vote be postponed and the hearing reopened to investigate; they demanded Ford be allowed to testify. Republicans quickly agreed, postponing the vote and inviting Ford to testify before the committee. Suddenly, if not surprisingly, the messaging changed. Now, inviting Ford to speak before the U.S. Senate on national television was “silencing” her, according to Sen. Gillibrand. Instead of having Ford testify, it was paramount to delay, delay, delay.
But no, Republicans announced the hearing would go on and Ford would have her say. Republicans knew the hearing would be loaded with political landmines. Every Republican senator on the Judiciary Committee is a man. The optics of Republican men questioning a woman who claims sexual abuse is fraught with peril, not to mention potentially psychologically hurtful to Ford if her allegations are true. To avoid these pitfalls, Republicans decided to hire a female outside counsel to ask questions in their place. This seems sensible, but Democrats objected. They wanted the optics of Republican men questioning, perhaps roughly, a traumatized victim of sexual assault. If they believe Ford’s claims, that is extremely callous and entirely political.
Everything Democrats have done thus far, from keeping the accusation secret for weeks until after the normal hearing was completed, to insisting Ford be allowed to speak right up until the moment Republicans invited her to testify at which point they insisted on delays, to their demands that male politicians question Ford instead of a woman experienced in sexual assault cases, everything appears to be designed less to serve justice and more for political opportunism.
Democrats are of course free to play political hardball. But when they do so, we are under no obligation to play along and pretend they are the guardians of truth and justice they like to claim to be.