The smear fails

  • 8 October 2018
  • NormanL

The left's concerted, and often hysterical, campaign to destroy now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh failed to derail his nomination to the Supreme Court. It was a close-run thing, and at least one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, buckled under the pressure.

But just because the vote has happened does not mean the left's campaign is over. They have every reason to keep their base agitated through the November elections, and are pushing an impeachment narrative to do so.

As profoundly cynical as that may be, it's also likely to motivate some. But the ugly and unhinged effort mounted against Kavanaugh is unlikely to work in future nomination battles. As National Review's Kevin Williamson writes, the strategists and moutpieces of the anti-Kavanaugh campaign aren't going to be held accountable, but their tactics did stiffen GOP resolve:

Senate Republicans surprised some people in showing some spine. About that, two things: One, a great many people have lost out betting against Mitch McConnell; two, the election of and continuing support for Donald Trump has made congressional Republicans a good deal more afraid of their voters than they are of the New York Times editorial page, which has long been shrill and hysterically partisan but which now is so shrill and hysterically partisan that even those Republicans more sensitive to institutional progressive opinion are simply rolling their eyes at it. (There’s an opportunity there for the Washington Post, I think, and maybe for a couple of other liberal-leaning institutions.) I am not an admirer of the populist impulse, but there are times when it makes sense to take “Yes” for an answer.

As for Senate Democrats:

The Democrats have some soul-searching to do. In the Kavanaugh matter, they debased themselves, the Senate, and democratic discourse all at the same time — and they have squat to show for it. Playing dirty comes naturally to them, and they don’t seem to mind the muck. But playing dirty — this dirty — and losing? That’s some shameful stuff.

This assumes Democrats are willing to look at themselves and the damage they inflicted on the nomination process. Yes, they do have a the skills and inclination to "fight dirty." It's worked before, they assumed it would work this time. That it didn't ought to give rational actors pause. We are not so charitable. Should there be another Supreme Court vacancy during the Trump presidency, the left will find newer, uglier, more harrowing ways to attack a prospective nominee. 

Like Republicans, Democratic politicians live in fear of their voters. Appearing at all lenient or mildly reasonable to any future Republican-nominated Supreme Court justice will bring down those voters' wrath. We would hope Democrats would learn from their Kavanaugh debale. We strongly suspect they will think they didn't fight dirty enough.