Monday, September 17, 2018

What's Next for Brett Kavanaugh?

I had a feeling David French of National Review would address the latest in the Brett Kavanaugh situation, and sure enough, this was published last night.  I think his analysis is pretty measured.  I have a few new thoughts of my own, now that we have more facts, and the alleged victim has come forward.

I recognize that this story must now receive serious attention. I still believe it deserved to be dismissed when it first surfaced for so many reasons:

The alleged victim's request for anonymity
Senator Diane Feinstein's apparent lack of faith in the story to the point that she didn't question Kavanaugh about it either in private or in the public hearings, and didn't even inform her Senate colleagues.

The fact that 30 years have elapsed since the alleged incident.

No evidence of contemporaneous reporting of the event, even to friends. 

No corroborating proof.  This was always, and still is, a he said she said situation, and before the alleged victim came forward to be identified, we didn't even know who she was.

The fact that the story was only revealed at the last minute just as the Senate Judiciary Committee is prepared to vote on Thursday.

The fact that the allegation only surfaced after a previous series of shameful tactics by Democrats to derail, on ridiculous grounds, the nomination of an otherwise qualified candidate.  (I'm thinking particularly of the despicable nature of  questioning by Corey Booker and Kamala Harris.  It seemed like just one more lame, despicable attempt to defeat a solid candidate for the Supreme Court.  On balance, it still seems like that to me, even though I now have some doubts.

And finally, to allow this tactic to succeed now would lead to a near certainty that in the future, anytime some group wanted to derail a political nomination, the precedent would have been set that all one needs to do is to find some woman willing to level an unsubstantiated, and unsubstantiatable claim of sexual misconduct against the person in question.

Now, the situation is different.  Now, the allegations must be evaluated.   I'm angry about the way this has been handled.  I'm angry at Senator Feinstein for the release of the story without naming the alleged victim. I'm angry at the last minute nature of the allegation, and it makes me all the more suspicious of the story.   I'm angry at the alleged victim for making such an accusation without having the guts to do so publicly and in a more timely manner when the nomination was first announced. 

I'm suspicious that this could have been the strategy all along:  To level this accusation at the last minute only after nothing else was successful to defeat the nomination.  This could have been reserved for use only in the final week as a desperation tactic in order to delay the vote long enough for the possibility of a Democratic majority in the Senate.  Had this allegation been made public in July when this woman first wrote the letter, it could been investigated then, and if found credible, a different person could have been nominated with plenty of time for confirmation in this Congress. 

I'm angry that if Kavanaugh is blocked as a result of this allegation, you can count on this tactic being used again to hobble qualified candidates for positions as judges or cabinet secretaries by partisans of the opposing party willing to lie to assassinate the character of an otherwise qualified candidate. 

We will come to regret the day this woman came forward with her allegation.

And now for my more politically incorrect views:

What if the allegations are true?  Or what if people start to at least believe they might be true?  It will be time to ask ourselves what constitutes disqualifying behavior for future office holders.  Do one's actions as a 17 year old constitute grounds for permanent disqualification for positions of responsibility as an adult?  Should the fact that alcohol may have been involved be considered a mitigating factor?

There was no rape.  By the alleged victim's description, there was unwanted sexual attention.  At what point does it become sexual assault?  And who's definition of sexual assault do we use?  The alleged victim or the perpetrator?  There are militant feminists who speak of toxic masculinity.  Do those militant feminists (also known in some circles as militant lesbians) know of any masculinity that they do not consider toxic?  Are they the ones who will define what constitutes sexual assault? 

There is apparently some discrepancy or confusion about how many boys were involved.  That could be due to a note taking error on the part of the alleged victim's 2012 therapist.  Still, is it reasonable to base a decision about a Supreme Court nominee on the faded impressions of a 15 year old girl over something that happened 30 years ago?  She also said she thought at one point her attacker might inadvertently kill her.  She wasn't killed.  Did she over react?  Was her perception of the seriousness of the groping incident an over reaction too?  And this speculation is based on a presumption that the alleged victim might be telling the truth.  What if she is lying for political purposes?

So what happens now?

I'll be curious to see if the vote goes forward as planned.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Senate Judiciary Committee delays its scheduled Thursday vote.  But for what?  If this is to be investigated, how do we know it will ever be resolved to anything other than he said, she said?  Should the vote go forward then?  Or will the fact that some shred of doubt will always remain mean that the nominee should withdraw?  What would be the implications for any future nominee for high office?  Should every future nominee  simply expect as a matter of routine to find himself accused of sexual misconduct for his trouble?

Possible outcomes:

The vote goes ahead as planned.  This won't happen unless they know they still have the votes.

One or more Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee gets cold feet and withdraws his support pending further investigation.

Investigation changes nothing.  They vote anyway and confirm.

Investigation changes nothing.   They never vote.  Kavanaugh withdraws.

Investigation raises serious enough doubts.  Trump or Kavanaugh withdraws.

If Kavanaugh is defeated, I suspect the prospects for the Senate to remain in Republican hands are still pretty favorable.  It's back to the drawing board to choose another candidate.  My suggestion would be Amy Coney Barrett.  Democrats will be longing for the days when they had a chance to put Brett Kavanaugh on the bench.