About a week ago, I noted how quiet Ben Sasse has been.
If you want a twitter snipe at Trump that will spawn a dozen thug life memes from The Reagan Battalion, he’s your man. If you want someone to take a principled stand and stick their neck out for what’s right, you’re more likely to get it from…(checks notes)…Lindsey Graham.
Sen. Sasse has finally spoken out and it’s not to give a show of support for Judge Kavanaugh. It’s to let everyone know that he “warned” the President not to nominate him.
“Although I’ve said many complimentary things about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his distinguished record … I will say that I urged the president back in June and early July to make a different choice before he announced this nomination,” Sasse said in a speech on the Senate floor about sexual assault.
While he didn’t say whether he advocated for a specific person, he said Wednesday he “urged the president to nominate a woman.”
Regardless of whether this is true or not, this is not the time or place to go try to toot your own horn at the expense of Judge Kavanaugh. If Sasse were accused of being a serial gang rapist, how would he respond to some ankle biter saying “welp, I’m not saying he’s a rapist, but I warned you not to elect him.”
It’s a slap in the face to Kavanaugh, who’s had his family torn apart, by someone who is supposed to be an ally. No, not an ally because of “omgz tribalism” but because Kavanaugh is a good man and an originalist jurist, things Sasse claims to care about in more peaceful times.
“Part of my argument then was that the very important ‘Me Too’ movement was also very new and that this Senate is not at all well prepared to handle potential allegations of sexual harassment and assault,” he said.
Though in his speech he said he believed most sexual assault allegations, he said that in politics, that could be a different story. “In this city … that situation might have well been different, I argued in June.”
“In the interest of cautious prudence I urged a different path than the one that was chosen,” he said.
This is defeatist non-sense. The “very important” Me Too movement (he spends most of the speech on that topic) should have no influence on who is nominated to the Supreme Court. If Brett Kavanaugh was the most qualified jurist, then he should not be sidelined because of the risk of false claims being made against him. To give in to such a threat would be tantamount to endorsing the tactics as legitimate.
Sasse’s comments are also incredibly naive. The idea that a woman like Barrett (who I think is great) wouldn’t of been submitted to incredibly harmful smears is wishful thinking at it’s best. Would they have accused her of rape? Maybe not, although it’s not at all out of the realm of possibility that something sexual would of been alleged. Still, they’d of certainly hit her with equally damaging claims on other topics. This is doubly true because she’s outspokenly pro-life.
You know what would be much more useful right now than this self-serving lecture from Sasse? Him actually speaking out in support of Kavanaugh the past two weeks. Instead he went into hiding. While other judiciary committee members were stating facts and fighting back in the public sphere, Sasse has commented once since September 15th and that was to tweet a meme about monkeys.
sounds right https://t.co/ggS0BEH45O
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) September 28, 2018
I’m not saying Sasse isn’t a good conservative when it comes to policy, but we need better than this from our supposed “thought leaders,” which is exactly what he and certain conservatives desperately want him to be. You can’t just step out for applause lines when it’s convenient but then hide in a hole when there’s an ounce of risk. He certainly shouldn’t be coming out of his spider hole after everyone else has won the fight for him in order to claim he had the best battle plan all along. It’s worth re-iterating that he’s not a random Senator in this situation. He’s on the Judiciary Committee directly overseeing this process.
This kind of risk-averse gamesmanship has been my biggest complaint about Ben Sasse for a while. What he did here is perhaps worse though. If he can’t be counted on to help lead the charge in times such as this, he doesn’t deserve to be elevated higher than he currently is.