John Zaring | The Rational Center: The Last Line of DefenseJohn Zaring October 8, 2018 0 COMMENTS
On Saturday Oct. 6, Judge Brett Kavanaugh became Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Well, I got that one wrong. No shock there. After all, I’m the guy who famously predicted in 2016 that there simply weren’t enough racist and grumpy old white people left in America to elect Donald Trump president (and while technically true, if most Americans don’t vote, well, we get The Donald).
In truth, Kavanaugh would have been confirmed last weekend was it not for Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) tossing Democrats a lifeline. Just when all seemed lost, Flake told Republican leaders that he’d withhold his vote unless and until a more fulsome FBI investigation – albeit one “limited in time and scope” – looked into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.
With that courageous act, one last line of defense was granted.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee in her opening statement that she feared her lone voice would ultimately be drowned out by powerful men, and it turns out her fear was valid. On Saturday, despite Ford assuring senators that she was “one hundred percent” certain that her attacker was a then-seventeen-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans and one red state Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, nonetheless elevated him to the Supreme Court, the highest court in our land.
In so doing, the hopes of many Americans – including millions of American women – collapsed beneath the hubris of a bunch of old white men. Speaking of tone-deaf old white men, after the vote was final, President Trump tweeted out that Kavanaugh was a “GREAT NOMINEE” and labeled his confirmation “very exciting.” Later on Saturday, he took to the stage in Kansas – a state under total control of Republicans that have been drowning under their policies – to call Democrats “arsonists” who can’t be trusted to follow the rule of law. Talk about spit-shining some scuffed-up boots.
While it’s true the Republican base rallied around Kavanaugh, given all of Trump’s daily disasters, it’s debatable whether they can maintain that energy through November 6. After all, when you win, anger is harder to sustain.
That’s not the case when you lose.
Many American women, already frustrated with the GOP’s white male patriarchy, will move their protests from the halls of Congress back into the streets, using Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a rallying cry to carry Democrats to victory in the midterms, especially in the House.
Here in California’s 25th Congressional District, Rep. Steve Knight’s campaign brain trust will need to thread the proverbial needle as it endeavors to put a positive spin on the Kavanaugh confirmation. Their challenge will be in figuring out a way to simultaneously champion Trump’s consolidation of conservative power on the Supreme Court without further alienating the suburban women who populate the district, the independents and some Republicans who believe the FBI’s investigation was needlessly hamstrung by the limitations placed by Trump’s White House.
In fairness, the FBI found itself in a no-win situation, and I think they did the right thing by not bucking Trump’s marching orders and interviewing everyone they felt deserved attention, consequences be damned. Had they done that it would have meant going against the rule of law, and despite everything, frankly because of all that we’ve endured, it is important that the rules, those both written and unwritten, be followed.
Just a few weeks ago Trump was bloviating about the FBI being a cesspool controlled by vengeful Democrats. Now that they’ve followed orders and nothing more, he’s singing their praises. And that, my friends, is the problem with having a compromised person like Trump in charge of our nation. Ironically, it was Brett Kavanaugh who reminded us that in the current political environment, “What goes around comes around,” yet regardless of what side you find yourself, this whole mess has been tragic.
There are the very real personal costs for Dr. Ford, her family, friends and frankly all victims of sexual assault, harassment or behavior. I feel for Kavanaugh’s wife and his kids too. In fighting this out, it appears that nearly everyone in Washington – and many of us in our social media – has lost sight of what matters most: that we are all Americans.
On a local level, with more women heading to the polls it will likely benefit the two Democrats on the ballot, Katie Hill and Christy Smith. They’re running against two pro-Trump Republicans – Rep. Knight and California Assemblyman Dante Acosta – men who have been legislatively absent on issues that are important to most women and morally absent when it comes to repudiating Trump’s worst impulses. Plus, in Acosta’s case, questions still linger around a sexual harassment accusation made by a Republican woman that date to Jan. 2015, when he worked as a field staffer for Rep. Knight.
Both races are currently too close to call – again, it will come down to turnout – and the winners are likely to only eke out their victories. If I were running the Hill and Smith campaigns, I’d focus on women’s issues and health care for the final thirty days because when the smoke clears on Nov. 6, it is likely female voters who will be the actual last line of defense.
If this time I don’t get it wrong, while Trump and his enablers in the Senate “plowed through” and got Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court, in winning that battle, it’s likely they will lose the war.
We’ll know soon enough.
The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer’s opinion section does not represent the official opinions of Radio Free Santa Clarita, its board and its supporters.
John Zaring has lived with his family in the Santa Clarita Valley since 2000. He describes his politics as center-left, as in “the rational center,” and while initially a college Republican, has been a Democrat since 1992. The LA County Democratic Party named him the 37th Assembly District Democrat of the Year in 2010.