Some (Hopefully) Helpful Thoughts On The Kavanaugh Affair

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

I saw lots of angst in the comments boards yesterday.  Perhaps these observations will help us all focus on the objectively good situation we are in on the Kavanaugh nomination, and recognize (and accept) some realities of that situation.


We’re lucky to even be here.  Two years ago, in late September of 2016, the smart money was betting on a Democrat Senate.  With Dianne Feinstein as its chair, controlling the schedule and whose nominations get considered.  So, things could have been a lot, lot worse.

We have to play the cards we have, not the ones we wish to have.  One of the first things the Army taught me was this:  when you start to plan an operation, identify the constraints you face.  Are you short of ammo, are your cannon crews undermanned, is the weather going to be bad, etc..?  Then, you come up with the best plan you can, that takes those constraints into account.  Without exception, the plan you come up with is not the plan you’d prefer to execute—it’s the plan you CAN execute.  But, whatever you do, you never pretend the constraints don’t exist.

In this Senate, we have 51 GOP Senators.  Two of them are pro-choice (Collins, Murkowski) and another one is Jeff Flake, who we now know can be easily intimidated.  Without them, we have no majority.  They know that, the Democrats know that, and the GOP leadership knows that.  We have to have at least one or two of them vote for Kavanaugh.  We cannot send other people to Washington to vote in their place.  Only 101 people on the face of the Earth (I’m counting VP Pence here) will get to vote on Kavanaugh.  We have to deal with those 101 people, not other people that we wish are in the Senate.  We have to execute a plan that will get Kavanaugh confirmed by a majority of these 101 people.


We have limited leverage on those three Senators.  Flake is leaving office.  Collins and Murkowski just won re-election. And, it’s possible this is their last stint in the Senate.  Threatening retaliation at the ballot box may not work with these three.

Collins and Murkowski know that every vote in the Senate is precious.  They know that they can screw the GOP on the Kavanaugh nomination and still hold lots of power in the Senate.  Even if Leader McConnell punishes them by taking away any committee chairmanships they have.  They know this.

We hold the high ground on this nomination.  Brett Kavanaugh is an appealing SCOTUS candidate to everyone except hardcore Democrats and SJWs.  He’s being pilloried under a unfair standard that, if applied to everyone in this country, would disqualify most people from public service. Most Americans intuitively know that.  Most Americans recognize unfairness when they see it.

Did the Democrats really beat up Kavanaugh in the Judiciary Committee hearing?  If he had obvious weaknesses, in his character or record, they would have torn into him.  Did they tear into him?  No.  Because they knew they couldn’t.  This is a decent, high-quality guy.  And, decent people recoil when they see other decent people being trashed.

The Democrats are hoping that we quit, and pull the nomination.  They are also hoping that we conservatives and Republicans turn on each other, less that two months before an election.

We need to keep our wits about ourselves, and make the Democrats do the heavy lifting and convince the American people that Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t deserve to be on the Supreme Court.  I doubt they can do that.


We can afford to wait another week or two, if need be.  Everything I’ve read says that Kavanaugh can begin hearing cases immediately after he’s sworn it.  He’s not going to miss an entire year of SCOTUS cases.  He might miss a few weeks, even a month, but that’s a setback we can absorb.  Remember the end payoff:  a good SCOTUS justice for the next 20 years.   And, the vast majority of early voters won’t vote until mid-October.  By then, this all should be resolved.  (I fully expect that McConnell will have it resolved by then, because he has the authority to do it).

I don’t think Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski want to be in the minority in the Senate.  If their antics lead to many GOP voters sitting on their hands in November, those two ladies might find themselves in the minority.  I think they want to be committee chairs.  I’m sure they know that it’s a lot more fun to be in charge in the Senate, than simply be in the Senate.

We are facing an experienced, capable opponent.  The Democrats are not stupid.  They know how to play the Beltway political and media game.  Going back to my Army days, I was taught to expect setbacks, even defeats, in any operation I planned.  Your opponent (NOT enemy) is going to try and beat you.  Unless they are total pushovers, they will succeed from time to time.  And the Senate Democrats are not pushovers.  You absorb your defeats, learn from them, and then press on to your objective!  They set us back.  OK; now we deal with it and move on.

If our spirit and will breaks, we WILL lose.  That would be a shame, because we are in a really good position on this nomination.  We have a great nominee and our opponents have a weak case to sell.  As the days go by, it gets weaker.   We now have a powerful campaign issue to take to voters: “Do you really want THESE people in charge?”


Now that the nomination is in the hands of Mitch McConnell, it can stay here.  He controls the process now.  And, we can now employ some of our better spokespeople.  Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst come to mind.

These three wobbly Senators are not unreachable.  I don’t think much of Jeff Flake right now, but I doubt he wants to go down in American history as the embodiment of G.K. Chesterton’s Men Without Chests.  And I doubt that Collins and Murkowski want to establish a precedent that makes mothers worry that their sons can be targeted at any time in their life, for their missteps in their callow and careless teenage years.

Now, folks, is not the time to go wobbly.



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