Kavanaugh hearings and the general election

Politicians can only hope they have made the right choices and that their constituents vote them in/back into office.

Kavanaugh hearings and the general election

The Senate voted 50-48. Kavanaugh has become the ninth Supreme Court justice. It’s another success for President Trump and the Republican Congress. But what effect will Kavanaugh’s confirmation have upon the Nov. 6 elections? How will Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony affect the Democratic voters? The answers to these and other questions will be decided in a few weeks.

Dr. Ford’s testimony was certainly compelling. At first, President Trump agreed with that appraisal, but last week’s political rally visit to Mississippi saw a reversal. He questioned her selective memory to cheers from his base. The danger for Republicans is that a great wave of feminine anger could arise as a result of these politically risky remarks and the rise to the Supreme Court of a man accused of sexual assault. That anger could focus on the Republicans running for reelection. It may be multiplied since the Senate voted to confirm Kavanaugh.

“We the people,” based upon the ground rules delineated in the Constitution, gave the presidency to Donald J. Trump in 2016. “We the people” will also be the judges regarding the Republican controlled Congress and the Kavanaugh appointment.

Politicians can only hope they have made the right choices and that their constituents vote them in/back into office. Based upon the Kavanaugh hearings, the Democrats in Congress played their weak hand in their political game of high stakes poker much more deftly than the Republicans.

The timing of Dr. Ford’s testimony was just right to draw the attention and ire of millions of American women angry over sexual assaults and harassment by men. We are in the midst of the “#MeToo” movement wave. Not navigating that tsunami will drown politicians too inept and unskilled to cope with it.

Call the timing crass politics or not, it was a calculated political decision. The Democrats were on top of their game and the Republicans were reeling. The Republican leadership has shown itself to be terribly incapable in dealing with Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. They first delayed and then refused to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court appointment for 10 months. Then they rushed to appoint Kavanaugh as soon as possible before the Nov. 6 elections.

Several Republican Senators remember how Anita Hill was treated by the Senate in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearing 27 years ago. They remember the backlash. They were so fearful of making the same mistake in the era of #MeToo. They hired prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to ask Dr. Ford questions. Fearful of angering the public with accusations of a biased political hearing, they allowed the Democratic Senators on the committee to speak every five minutes during Mitchell’s interrogation. Mitchell was never able to do her job of filling in the holes in Dr. Ford’s testimony.

The Republican leadership bungled the investigation, while the Democrats used their time to create a very effective narrative about Ford’s testimony and Kavanaugh’s irresponsible drunken youthful behavior.

Judge Kavanaugh portrayed himself as an upright church-going family man of integrity during his Fox News interview. But he came out swinging during his confirmation hearing. He was angry, rightly so, because his reputation was being systematically destroyed by his accusers who seemed to multiply over time.

He also showed himself to be disrespectful, insolent, and partisan to the Democratic Senators. His demeanor was arrogant and smacked of a sense of entitlement. His later Wall Street Journal near apology helped, but for some, he had crossed a red line on the character scale.

Based upon reports from PBS, several of his high school and college friends and associates have decided to speak up. They said he was lying about his behavior during his teen years and time in college. They say he drank heavily and was aggressive. They are speaking out because they say his portrayal of his behavior is a lie. If he lied about his youth, he committed perjury. If he perjured himself, then the larger question is over his character. His alleged youthful excesses become irrelevant.

In the end, though, the Republicans negated Democratic maneuvering by using their majority to confirm their candidate.

Judge Kavanaugh is now a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. What influence the accusations will have upon him as associate justice remains to be seen, but the real test of the confirmation hearings, Republican control of Congress, and President Trump’s first two years in office will be registered on election day Nov. 6. That’s when the real power in this country, “we the people,” will share their opinion.


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Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray’s research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India. She is a resident of Kirkland.
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