Friday, September 28, 2018

When the conscience of a conservative prevailed

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, October 2, 3, 2018

Post script to the 9/28 posting:
What is the fallout?  By his actions that resulted in the FBI investigation, Sen. Flake advanced the rights of millions of women:  A woman victim of sexual violence was more than simply to be heard with respect, she was to be treated fairly and her accusations taken seriously without prejudice by authorities to which she reported.  If due to White House manipulations, the FBI report fails to investigate some critical questions, such as Kavanaugh's tendency to drink so heavily he blacks out or becomes sexually aggressive, to women, that would seriously damage  the credibility of their findings.

In case there were any doubts before the hearings, the GOP was dramatically unmasked as the male privileged political party they have become because of their stubborn willingness to ignore the credible testimony of Dr. Ford as if she never had uttered a word, Sen Flake's compromise not withstanding. . Their voting records on Kavanaugh’s confirmation will become campaign fodder the next time they are on the ballot. For many, that may be November 6, 2018. 
At about 11:30 AM Mountain time  on Friday September 28th listening to the satellite radio as I drove to a dentist appointment, there was a remarkable, jaw dropping  breaking news report. When I left my  house, the final question mark in the all male GOP members of the Senate Judiciary  Committee had fallen into place with Sen. Jeff Flake announcing he would vote in favor of confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That action cleared the way for vote of the full Senate and the outcome given the GOP majority was certain he would be confirmed.  All that was left was the committee's  formal vote.  In my mind, I was already writing my first sentence in next week's column, "the credible testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford about her attempted rape by Brett Kavanaugh in high school was just blown off by the all male GOP panel that was not about to let an event 36 years ago to derail the confirmation of Kavanaugh." At stake were not only campaign promises, but it was also  the timeline they had set to beat the November 6 midterm deadline, though unlikely, that  could also result in   an even more angered voter turnout which would turn the Senate blue.  All that was left was for the Senators to explain their votes and in a fiery rant, Sen Lindsey Graham attacked the Democrats for their manipulation of Dr Ford's timing of the testimony and made it clear this was a partisan matter. In contrast, soft spoken Sen.  Chris Coons (D-DE  ) quietly gave his opinion that the Democrat's position was reasonable: that requesting an FBI investigation would help provide the missing facts left by the "he said; she said of "Thursday testimonies and that it could be done to meet the GOP timeline.  There just needed to be a week's pause in the full Senate vote to allow that to happen.  Sen. Flake sat listening, his face tortured in knowing only he who was not running for reelection so he had the freedom from political party revenge to swing his vote. Torn between his devotion to the ideological approval of Kavanaugh and his belief in the fair treatment of Dr. Ford, the conscience of a conservative prevailed and Sen. Coons and he quietly left the room to finalize  the compromise. Flake would stand by his pledge to vote for Kavanaugh, but attached a condition: he would reserve his final floor vote if all would agree to one week' s delay to allow the FBI to reopen their vetting process and to interview critical witnesses with the threat of jail time if they lied. Only three or four votes were needed to end Kavanaugh's quest.  What changed Sen. Flake's position has been owed to an open elevator door and two determined victims of sexual assault emotionally confronting him on the way to the hearing and to Sen. Coons, a personal friend of Sen Flake's, who made  short comments to explain his vote that contained the outline of a compromise.  By the time my dentist appointment was finished, other GOP moderates and red state Democrats, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, had jumped on the Flake bandwagon. It was obvious to Pres. Trump, Judiciary Chair Grassley, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that if they ever had a chance to get Kavanaugh confirmed by holding the slim majority of the GOP senators together for the final vote, they had to go along with the compromise.

Where the GOP has missed the boat was understanding that at issue was no longer Kavanaugh's position on Roe v Wade that was the wave swamping was the broader issue of a cultural revolt of a large number of women to the GOP's male domination of policies that not only  controlled women's health and reproduction choices, but also  suppressed their  voice to fight back against sexual assault. The  female voter gender gap had polled 20 to 26%  deficit for Republicans, putting the GOP's performance in the November 6 midterms at a disadvantage and the #MeToo movement was every bit the driver of the gender gap as is  the issue of choice and Roe v Wade.
What is the political fallout?    Sen Jeff Flake's bi-partisan compromise may take the edge off of the anger of the women a bit, but the damage had already  been done to the GOP as they were further unmasked as the male privileged political party they have become in their stubborn willingness to simply ignore the credible testimony of Dr. Ford as if she never had uttered a word. They proceeded to confirm Kavanaugh in spite of strong evidence of  his bad behavior in high school and college or his deceptive positioning himself as a beer loving, but virgin choir boy. The hat that Democrats are hanging on is that the FBI investigation will reveal that Kavanaugh is an ideological  agenda driven partisan who lied in his testimony and therefore will be disqualified as unable to meet the qualifications of a Supreme Court justice.  Only  unless the Senate flips blue in November could women see the a future  pro choice justice sit on the Supreme Court bench.  Unless the Court is expanded to add more pro choice justices, the Supreme Court will be controlled by anti choice justices.   Elections have  consequences.  The die is already cast against Roe v Wade.That expansion depends on a blue Senate and House and either control of the White House or a veto proof majority.

Earlier September 28, 2018.  About those who say they believed Dr. Ford but still vote for Kavanaugh...because since then Kavanaugh grew up to be a fine person are those who are as despicable as those who take Kavanaugh's word over Dr. Ford's, The issue is about whether Kavanaugh lies when it benefits him. It is a question of charcter and such character flaws , even if obvious, are just fine with the GOP majority on the Senate committee for someone to serve on the Supreme Court . . Those who believe Dr. Ford but still support Kavanaugh are no better than the same who without evidence claim there was a mistaken identification (except for those who were named by conspiracists who denied they were the ones). They refuse to have the FBI investigate. They refuse to subpoena witnesses. They even do not give Dr. Ford the same courtesies that were extended to Anita Hill, an FBI investigation and calling on her witnesses to testify. They overlook Kavanaugh's  unbelievable declaration about the references to his year book, his calendars, that while he drank more beers than he should, he never passed out..Therefore his memory is not faulty, right? He. and the GOP majority's committee took every possible way to avoid the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh's and Dr. Ford's witnesses. It is not the question of whether in his more mature years he mended his ways; it is whether he lies about his early years in order for forward his ambitions.

In that testimony Kavanaugh dropped his veneer of judicial temperament and revealed the politically operative side of him is his embrace of right wing theories that this opposition to him was the result of a left wing conspiracy motivated by revenge for his participation and leadership in impeaching Bill Clinton and that Dr. Ford's testimony was only released as a Democratic strategy at the last moment. If he had bothered to listen to Dr. Ford's testimony, which he didn't, he would have not made that last charge, since Dr. Ford only agreed to go public after her name was outed and reporters were at her doorstep. Kavanaugh may be a great legal mind, but instead of being an objective juror, it was more likely we could count on his using his skills to advance his political agenda more effectively...including his support of the imperial presidency that would upset the balance of power, and his extremely anti choice agenda that considers birth control an abortion agent. One pretense was destroyed,he mind of an impartial judge. He showed his true self: a partisan, paranoid politician. He may be a brilliant jurists, but we his using those skills to advance his agenda .

"Burden of proof on Ford so the burden has not been met": Chairman Sen. Grassley gave for reason for voting approving confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate. Two minutes before that, the GOP majority voted down a motion by Sen. Blumenthal to have the one and only witness to the assault be appear before the committee. The ability to meet the burden of proof, if on Dr. Ford's shoulder, was   presenting either her witnesses to appear or for her calling for an FBI investigation. That was denied her. The 11 men on the committee in effect put their hands over her mouth by refusing to investigate or subpoena her witnesses. Sen.Jeff Flake upended Grassley's strategy.

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