The Kavanaugh Dilemma

Behind closed doors, Trump might be wavering in his support of Brett Kavanaugh.

On Monday morning, a Republican briefed on Trump’s thinking said the president has been considering pulling Kavanaugh’s nomination.

According to the source, Trump allies are imploring him to cut Kavanaugh loose for the sake of saving Republicans’ electoral chances in the midterms. The argument these advisers are making is that if Kavanaugh’s nomination fails, demoralized Republicans will stay home in November, and Democrats will take the House and the Senate and initiate impeachment proceedings. The end result: Trump will be removed from office. “The stakes are that high,” the source said. Another Republican adviser told me: “Trump is very worried now, and is finally waking up that it’s the end of his presidency if he loses the Senate.”

I’m always a bit hesitant to buy into these kinds of reports about what’s going on behind the scenes in the Trump White House. But I don’t doubt that there are those who are urging the president to withdraw his nomination of Kavanaugh before things get even worse.

But to the extent that Trump is actually worried about his presidency, he has quite a dilemma on his hands. Take a look at what he’s hearing from Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist.

Give us the House, the Senate, and the White House, they said, and we’ll repeal Obamacare. Give us power across the major elected branches, and we’ll secure the border, they promised. With a Republican president in the White House and a Republican majority in the Senate, we’ll confirm the most conservative Supreme Court nominees you can imagine, they claimed.

Yet here we are. Obamacare is still on the books, and a wall is still not on the border. The only compelling reason left for Republicans to continue voting for Republicans is the confirmation of conservative jurists to fill the federal judiciary. The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was nice, but it changed nothing, as he replaced the staunchly conservative Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch’s appointment merely maintained the status quo.

Republican lawmakers have to understand that their voters have zero patience for their excuses for not doing what they promised. It’s why they elected Trump in the first place. Republican senators failed to repeal Obamacare after promising to do so for years. That was strike one. They’ve steadfastly refused to secure the border, let alone build a barrier along the most porous sections of the nation’s border with Mexico. That was strike two.

A refusal to vote to confirm Kavanaugh in the face of a blatantly obvious Democrat smear campaign, orchestrated in concert with a compliant and obscenely partisan national media, will be strike three, and there will be no more at-bats…

An electorate already disgusted with consistent GOP failure to honor its promises is not going to lift a finger to keep the same do-nothings in power. If they’re going to stand by and allow to Democrats to do whatever they want, there’s simply no point in electing Republicans again.

Wow, and here I was thinking that the Republican base was just thrilled with all of the winning they’ve been experiencing since Trump got elected. Who knew that they were close to calling it a strike-out?

On the one hand you have Trump advisors telling him to dump Kavanaugh or risk losing the Senate, while on the other, people like Davis are saying that if Kavanaugh isn’t confirmed, it will be strike three for Republicans, bringing big losses in the midterms.

Speaking of dilemmas, take a look at how one of the most respected journalists in Maine, Bill Nemitz, describes the one facing Sen. Susan Collins.

Collins, like Ford, is a smart woman. Thus, she must know that Ford’s decision to jump into this political cauldron isn’t about politics or vanity or any of the other motives so callously ascribed to her by powerful men who wish she’d just shut up and go away.

Collins also must know that the vote on Kavanaugh, assuming it still happens, is no longer confined to what Kavanaugh told her during their two chats – one in person and one by phone – or what she thinks he might or might not do as an associate justice.

This is about one woman with a story to tell and another woman who, upon hearing it, will know deep down if it’s the truth.

If her gut tells her it is, Collins simply cannot vote for Kavanaugh without surrendering her own integrity.

And if she doesn’t believe Ford, she’ll have to explain to the entire country, especially its women, why she sided with the once-17-year-old boy and against the 15-year-old girl.

Watch closely, Senator Collins, and listen carefully.

There’s no middle ground this time.

To save Trump, the onus is on senators like Collins to support Kavanaugh and explain to their voters why they’re siding with him against Ford’s accusations. As Nimitz pointed out, there is no middle ground this time around.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.