What made Justice Kavanaugh even think he could get away with such temperamental display? President Trump, that’s who.
Perhaps this is a Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, moment as Jack Nicholson barked in the movie: “You can’t handle the truth.” That’s from 1992, “A few Good Men.” The same year by the way, a then-Democratic Governor of Arkansas, was elected to the White House. (Bill Clinton)
It’s time for America to man up to what our politics have become. To call the situation for what it is.
President Trump was elected in a very unorthodox way. As a result, parroting Trump, American politics have also grown to be very unorthodox. Gone, (at least for the next few years) are the traditional ways of how things were done politically. Decorum is out the window, and instead win at all cost. It doesn’t matter how you do it, who you destroy, what you destroy. That’s all collateral damage. Just win!!!
Exhibit A, the 114th Supreme Court Judge, Brett Kavanaugh. Our politics nowadays are nasty, mean-spirited, polarized, and do anything, say anything to win.
This is not an attack on the left or the right. It’s time for the American people to look in the mirror, and see where we are headed. As was stated on the pages of The Nation website the other day, “gone are the days of pursuing a policy agenda that might enjoy broad public support.”
President Trump illustrated during the campaign and his time thus far in the White House that he can practically say anything. It doesn’t even bear reminding you of his “shoot someone on 5th Ave comment and get away with it.” Our President has a habit of delivering red meat to his conservative base almost daily, and add-in his new way of communicating, and that is twitter. Hey, give it to him. It’s a very creative way to get around the filter of the White House Press Corps, and communicate directly with millions of Americans. In other words, to avoid the follow-up questions that many of his Oval Office predecessors had to endure, and it caused them great grief.
We have lost our Political Civility, all in the name of winning
Accused of sexual assault, there was a time when the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination would have been on life support…..but with the demeanor coming out of the White House, we have literally entered unchartered territory especially with the issue of temperament. And it’s spreading!!! Fake News is a common vernacular.
Can you imagine in the days prior to the election of President Trump, what would have happened if Judge Kavanaugh displayed the temperament and anger before the Judiciary committee. He did apologize, but judge Kavanaugh would have probably had to withdraw.
Remember the Presidential campaign where it deteriorated into hand size, and what that meant for other “manly” issues? The campaign was close absurdity…….but there is a big catch, and the punch-line is on all of us. Remember, our current president emerged from a crowded field of Republican candidates with no political experience, won the nomination, and ultimately the White House. No military service, and to date, still refusing to release his taxes. But still Trump won.
So Justice Kavanaugh failed the test of judicial temperament, so much so that the American Bar Association reconsidered it’s support of him. Saturday Night Live had a field day with his antics. But like Trump, Kavanaugh still won.
Keep in mind. Professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the summer of 1982 when they were teenagers. Under oath, whether she wanted to or not, practically overnight she morphed into Anita Hall.
Another accuser…. Deborah Ramirez declared the Senate chose to look the other way.
Then there was Julie Swetnick who accused Kavanaugh of outrageous behavior at “house parties” he and his friend Mark Judge were reportedly at.
The cherry on top if you will. Several Yale acquittances of Kavanaugh said they witnessed part of his alleged drunken behavior as a student.
In the end this is far from some moral victory one way or the other. It come down to the numbers just like our politics have. Right and wrong is out the window. You have more senators in your voting bloc, and get them to stay home with you, you win.
You can look at the Kavanaugh issue giving credit to President Trump because Kavanaugh’s nomination did amount to a careful threading of the needle. That’s how close the razor thin margin is for Republicans in the Senate. Before West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, in overwhelming red, West Virginia, announced his support for Kavanaugh, all majority leader Mitch McConnell could afford to lose was one republican senator, and that turned out to be exactly the case with Republican senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that did not support the nomination. Any good political leader knows how to count votes. That’s why McConnell kept posturing publicly but pushing back the Kavanaugh vote, because he did not have the numbers on his side.
Numbers at the end of the day is why the White House and McConnell caved in on the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh, that we know now was severely limited in scope, because without Arizona senator’s Jeff Flake’s support, who demanded the FBI probe, and adding (Murkowski’s no vote) the nomination was done. Over. Finished.
Or you can look at same scenario from the Democrat’s point of view. Again that, it’s simply a matter of math that currently is stacked against them. Including Independents that caucus with the democrats, if they just had two more Senate seats, two, the Kavanaugh nomination would have been dead on arrival.
That is the stakes of the upcoming midterms are so high. If Republicans keep the senate, they will continue to push through their agenda. If Democrats get control, your looking at Senate hearings of the President, scrutiny of the Trump administration and possible impeachment investigations. Though Democrats would need some republican votes for such a move, and that would be unlikely.
So is Kavanaugh a victory or not? It really depends who’s asking?
If we look at this through the sheer prism the Supreme Court, conservatives now have a majority of the Supreme Court for years to come. This is a case where Democrats may have no one else to blame but themselves. During the campaign Hillary Clinton and President Obama warned Democrats, rang the alarm bell repeatedly, that the next President would appoint 2–3 Supreme Court Justices, shaping the court for decades to come.
Democrats are looking to the mid-term election, for a “Blue Wave,” that is about to happen. While President Trump is not on the ballot, he is an issue in every race across America. Democrats are energized, mad as hell, and motivated. The Kavanaugh issue, and how the hearings were handled could be exhibit A to a massive turnout. My prediction has been a massive Blue Wave for Democrats for over a year now. There is simply no way the American people will just take to such a dramatic ugly turn in our politics without retribution. Remember history has already shown us that with mid-term elections, the party that has the White House does not do well. Remember, the nemesis for Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich.
Plus Democrats are still smarting over how Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland was treated. The same Mitch McConnell that was adamant to push Kavanaugh through the confirmation process, but blocked a vote on Garland.
The McCain effect
Millions have been spent in ads for and against Kavanagh. The irony of Kavanaugh that at one time appeared to be so smooth during the initial days of his confirmation hearing, (a lock for the Supreme Court) ended up in the fight of his life.
With Democrats on one side, and Republicans on the other with the upper hand, the vote would come down to just a handful of senators. As Susan Collins spent what seemed to be nearly an hour explaining her support for Kavanaugh, I thought about John McCain. Yes the same McCain who voted “thumbs down” to repealing Obamacare. Yes McCain had his contradictions throughout his life, but if there was ever a truly independent politician that at times did things on the merit, it would have to be John McCain.
What would maverick McCain do in this situation?
Would he have bucked his party again? Would it have been payback to Trump for the war hero comment during the campaign?
Candidate Trump’s words will live forever: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people weren’t captured.” Would McCain simply vote no on Kavanaugh simply on the merits. There is also the possibility that McCain could have supported him. Let’s pause here, and think about some of McCain’s words throughout his career.
McCain on bi-partisanship
“Before I leave, I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different.”
McCain on running against Obama in the 2008 Race
“Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We’ll go at it over the next two months. That’s the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We’re dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn’t be an American worthy of the name if I didn’t honor Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.”
McCain on Hillary Clinton
“I am sure that Senator Clinton would make a good president. I happen to be a Republican and would support, obviously, a Republican nominee, but I have no doubt that Senator Clinton would make a good president.”
That doesn’t exist today. It is lacking, especially in Washington where Republican moderates are a dying breed.
Senator Collins made hercase for Kavanaugh, and we will see what her Maine district says in 2020. As the Maine Senator went point by point, if you were against Kavanaugh going to the high court, it seemed like death by a thousand cuts. As she verbalized each point, it was evident that yes, for all the allegations, Brett Kavanaugh was still headed to the Supreme Court. Here is what the Senator said:
“The president nominated Brett Kavanaugh on July 9. Within moments of that announcement, special interest groups raced to be the first to oppose him, including one organization that didn’t even bother to fill in the judge’s name on its pre-written press release. They simply wrote that they opposed Donald Trump’s nomination of “XX” to the Supreme Court of the United States. A number of senators joined the race to announce their opposition, but they were beaten to the punch by one of our colleagues who actually announced opposition before the nominee’s identity was even known.
Since that time, we have seen special interest groups whip their followers into a frenzy by spreading misrepresentations and outright falsehoods about Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record. Over-the-top rhetoric and distortions of his record and testimony at his first hearing produced short-lived headlines, which although debunked hours later, continued to live on and be spread through social media. Interest groups have also spent an unprecedented amount of dark money opposing this nomination. Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than 30 years.
One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom. Against this backdrop, it is up to each individual senator to decide what the Constitution’s advice and consent duty means. Informed by Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 76, I have interpreted this to mean that the president has broad discretion to consider a nominee’s philosophy, whereas my duty as a senator is to focus on the nominee’s qualifications as long as that nominee’s philosophy is within the mainstream of judicial thought.”
A look to the future
Kavanaugh has said when it comes to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide, that the decades-old ruling “was settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court.”
On a President being removed from office
Part of his time as a young lawyer, Kavanaugh served as an aide to Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who led the investigation of President Clinton, and Kavanaugh also served in the administration of President George W. Bush. Now does not support removing a President from office, and that could loom large with the Russia issue still unresolved. Quoting Kavanaugh:
“Having seen first-hand how complex and difficult that job is, I believe it vital that the President be able to focus on the never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible,” Kavanaugh wrote in a 2009 law review laying out his case for a statute protecting sitting presidents from investigation.
“We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions,” he added. “The President’s job is difficult enough as is. And the country loses when the President’s focus is distracted by the burdens of civil litigation or criminal investigation and possible prosecution.”
So let’s cast aside Justice Kavanaugh for a moment.
When does the political retribution end, and when does the American political process start to heal?
Will America ever return to the issues and not just party-line politics?
We have been headed down this road of hyper partisanship for a very long time. Republicans always talked of “big tent” politics, or spreading their base, and Democrats sold themselves as an “inclusive” party appealing to all. But both parties talked a good game….all the while clashing. Nowadays, there is no reaching across the aisle in Congress. Republicans vote Republican, and Democrats vote Democratic.
Will the Supreme Court just be another political institution?Remember a famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Day 1 of the original Kavanaugh Confirmation hearing went like this from the nominee. Things went as smooth as silk. Quoting then Judge Kavanaugh:
“Over the past eight weeks, I have witnessed first-hand the Senate’s deep appreciation for the vital role of the American Judiciary. I have met with 65 Senators, including almost every Member of this Committee. Those meetings are sometimes referred to as “courtesy calls.” But that term understates how substantive and personal our discussions have been. I have greatly enjoyed all 65 meetings. In listening to all of you, I have learned a great deal about our country and the people you represent. Every Senator is devoted to public service and the public good, and I thank all the Senators for their time and their thoughts. I thank President Trump for the honor of this nomination.”
And there was the tone of complete optimism from Judge Kavanaugh:
“I live on the sunrise side of the mountain, not the sunset side of the mountain. I see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone. I am optimistic about the future of America and the future of our independent Judiciary.”
But just days later came the time of “challenge and controversy,” amid the serious allegations. It went like this Senator when Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh about whether drinking has ever affected his ability to remember an event.
KAVANAUGH: If you’re asking about, yeah, blackout, I don’t know. Have you?
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, Judge, just so you — that’s not happened. Is that your answer?
KAVANAUGH: Yeah. And I’m curious if you have.
But that was a precursor to how Kavanaugh started off that day that has forever changed the image of the Supreme Court.
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” Kavanaugh said.
Kavanaugh: “This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competence in good people of all political persuasions from serving our country.”
“What goes around comes around,” Kavanaugh said during his testimony, adding, “I fear for the future.”
“You have tried hard. You’ve given it your all. No one can question your effort,” he said. “But your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and destroy my family will not drive me out.
“You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”
Strikingly our politics have taken on a new tone. You can be nasty, act ugly, and get away with it. The legacy of the last Presidential election has spread to the U.S Supreme Court.
You can follow Dominic on Twitter. Dominic Carter, besides being a Journalist/New Reporter for Verizon FiOS TV News/RNN, is a keynote speaker around the country on Child Abuse, Child Sexual Abuse, Mental Illness, Foster Care, and motivating young people, particularly college students. This is Dominic Carter in South Carolina.