OPINION: The GOP Damaged Justice Kavanaugh
On Thursday, Sept. 13, Senate Judiciary Democrats informed the public that they gave the FBI a letter containing damaging allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
This news did not keep Senator Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, from announcing that the committee will vote on the nomination the following Thursday, Sept. 20. By Saturday, Sept. 15, the Washington Post ran a story naming Christine Blasey Ford as an alleged victim.
Republicans made it known that the committee is ready to accommodate Ms. Ford. The attorneys first told the Committee that Ford does not want to speak and that Ford fears to fly on an airplane. As such, the planned Sept.r 20 committee vote would not be able to take place on time.
Now in October, after the fact, it is obvious that those tactics (sitting on the letter since July) and lies (that Ford fears to fly) were aimed to stall the nomination. But at the time, the GOP delayed the committee vote by 8 days and the final vote was pushed back by a total of 11 days and herein is the damage: By letting Kavanaugh twist in the wind for extra days, more stories came out against him.
Stories included those that The New York Times and Wall Street Journal could not corroborate, but journalists with fewer standards ran with it anyway. It went viral. In fact, a letter containing wild allegations against Kavanaugh with no name and no return address sent to a Senator was news as “the fourth accuser” even though it was a clown letter and even though the stories told by the second and third accuser were not corroborated.
But the stories cemented the notion that Kavanaugh did something wrong and it got under his skin; leading to his fiery testimony that many Democrats saw as partisan and unbecoming of a judge. The cementing of the narrative that Kavanaugh is an abuser made it important to have an FBI report which delayed the vote by a few more days leading to more anti-Kavanaugh stories.
Two Senate Democrats and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted for the more conservative Neal Gorsuch, decided to either oppose Kavanaugh outright or vote present. A large plurality of the population now opposes Justice Kavanaugh likely due to this narrative being pushed for so long. (His net negatives among independents rose from -7 in a CNN September poll to -12 in a CNN poll in the field in the weekend of the vote.)
Democrats will use his speech as reason to demand that he recuse himself from cases, and Kavanaugh being scarred from this ordeal will potentially cave to demands of recusal and/or he will side with the liberal wing of the court more often than he otherwise would simply to prove he is not partisan.
The question is: what was the GOP supposed to do? Steamroll ahead in the face of the allegations? I am a Democrat, but as someone who earns a living mostly from providing Public Relations services, I warned from the get-go that delaying the process won’t help the Republicans.
As such, the GOP should have flipped the planned committee vote of Thursday, Sept. 20, into a hearing for Ford and then moved ahead with the committee vote the next day (as was indeed done now that the committee voted a day after the actual hearing). This would have shown that Republicans are giving Dr. Ford a chance to be heard but it would have avoided the damage that the GOP made by letting the process drag out.
Democrats would yell that the GOP was “rushing” Dr. Ford, but they claimed this even as the GOP delayed the process anyway. There is no scenario in which Democrats and the political media would praise the Republicans on this. Besides, the obvious retort to the claim that a Sept. 20 hearing would be “rushed” is that Democrats had the letter since July, which was enough time for Ford to be heard if Democrats wanted her to be heard.
Furthermore, the claim of not rushing might have merit if Dr. Ford was silent, but she spoke on the record to the Washington Post on September 15. Talking to the country five days later, therefore, should have worked; except, of course, if Democrats were just trying to delay the process.
Some Republicans made the giddy claim that the other stories undermined Ford’s claims and therefore the other stories “helped” Kavanaugh. Well, to the contrary: Had the committee held a hearing on time (5 days after her name appeared), there would not have been such a buildup to it as there was now (12 days), and it would not have happened under the shadow of other Kavanaugh allegations which came out after the would-be hearing date.
In fact, Jane Meyer from the New Yorker who presented the second person admitted that she and Ronan Farrow were “so alert to the significance of other accusers such as Deborah Ramirez” because “her allegation showed that, if true, yes, there was a pattern of misconduct, and likely another side of the judge.” Basically, the other stories — albeit not corroborated — showed a pattern; and thus damaged Kavanaugh.
Yossi Gestetner provides public relations services for corporate, political and for charity clients. On Twitter @YossiGestetner
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.