The GOP Strategy to Distract From Christine Ford’s Testimony

When Christine Blasey Ford finished testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the consensus (even among a lot of Republicans) was that her allegations were credible. Keep in mind that, when asked, she said that she was 100 percent certain that it was Brett Kavanaugh who assaulted her. It certainly looked like his confirmation to the Supreme Court was in doubt.

But for Republicans, all that changed after Kavanaugh’s testimony. Suddenly they felt emboldened, as is evidenced by the fact that they plan to go forward with a vote as soon as possible. What happened?

Beyond the suggestion that Ford’s allegations haven’t been corroborated, neither the nominee or Republicans on the committee attempted to refute her allegations. Instead, it was this statement in Kavanaugh’s opening remarks that became the rallying cry:

Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation … When it was needed, this allegation was unleashed and publicly deployed over Dr. Ford’s wishes…. This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit…. pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election….revenge on behalf of the Clintons…. millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

From the nominee and one Republican senator after another, we heard claims about the process by which these allegations were brought forward as a way to craft a narrative that it was a conspiracy designed by Democrats to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation. That echoed what Trump said in his press conference Wednesday afternoon when he called it a “con job” by “evil people”.

Obviously, that was the strategy designed by Republicans to distract everyone from the claims that were so powerfully voiced by Dr. Ford. They knew that attacking her directly would backfire. So they paid lip service to being sympathetic to her, all while wrapping her claims in the cloak of some Democratic plot.

That explains why the rage we saw from Kavanaugh and senators like Lindsey Graham were ramped up to be off the charts. While I don’t agree with all of Kevin Drum’s conclusions about the hearing, I think he nailed it when he wrote about how the Republican playbook has been all about feeding a sense of victimization.

This sense of endless victimization by liberals didn’t start with Donald Trump, but it’s no surprise that it’s reached his peak during his presidency. He literally rode conservative victimization to the White House and taught Republicans that it was even more powerful than they thought. Now they’re using it as their best chance of persuading a few lone Republican holdouts to vote for Kavanaugh not on the merits, but so that Democrats don’t have the satisfaction of seeing their contemptible plot work.

As Christopher Buskirk demonstrates at the American Spectator, the show wasn’t merely about convincing a few lone Republican holdouts.

Over and over again I have heard from people outside of politics and the media, but all over the political spectrum, about their extreme distaste for the Democrats’ blood lust. They see it for what it is: there is no search for truth, it’s not about justice. It’s a well-orchestrated political hit-job designed to destroy a good man and accomplished judge because he represents an end to Leftist control of the Supreme Court which they have used since the 1930s as a super-legislature to force their radical, dehumanising agenda on the country over the objections of the American people. At least they know what’s at stake…

This will have an impact on the upcoming midterm elections – but not the way Democrats will hope. They envision their pussy-hat wearing legions descending on the polls and sweeping into power a host of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clones and their ‘male allies.’ ‘This is it comrades,’ you can hear them say, ‘today we overthrow the patriarchy!’ But no. They have done, once again, for Republicans what Republicans could not do for themselves: energise the base.

The one Democrat who, during his questioning of Kavanaugh, demonstrated that he understood the Republican strategy to distract us from Ford’s testimony was Senator Cory Booker.

In case you can’t watch the video, here is some of the transcript:

Sen Booker: She was not doing this for political effort in 2012 when she talked to her therapist about this attack. She was not coordinating about this painful experience when she made revelations to her husband. She did not coordinate in 2013, 2017—before you were nominated—that wasn’t coordination.

Kavanaugh: All the witnesses who were there say it didn’t happen. Ms. Keyser is her longtime friend, said she never saw me at a party with or without Dr. Ford.

Sen Booker: —and Ms. Keyser has said clearly, I’ll quote what she said, she said she does not remember the night in question—that supports what you said—but she also said she believes Dr. Ford.

Sen Booker: She is not a political pawn. She is not orchestrating. She is not part of the Clintons’ efforts to get some kind of revenge. She’s a woman who came here with corroborating evidence to tell her truth.

The point here is that the process by which these allegations came forward does not dismiss the fact that Dr. Ford made credible claims that she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh. Nothing the nominee or any Republican said during the hearings yesterday addressed those claims directly. It was all an attempt to distract us, paint Kavanaugh as the victim and gin up outrage in the Republican base about their own victimization by liberals.

Policy differences, ideology and even narrow-minded self-interest cannot explain the deep and growing divide in American politics. Nor can it explain the popularity of Donald Trump in some quarters. The only way to explain or understand these phenomena is to attribute it to a bone-deep cultural resentment that probably does not originate in politics, but that finds its outlet and expression in politics … [Trump] understood when no else did that loyalty to that ideology was an inch deep among the GOP base, and that the true unifying force was resentment.

That is the heart of the GOP’s politics of resentment that got Trump elected and could result in a seat on the Supreme Court for Brett Kavanaugh. When it comes to political polarization, it is the heart of the divide.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.