The White House Versus Jeff Flake

They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Either Jeff Flake or Donald Trump is going to wind up with egg on their face over Kavanaugh.

The White House has made it clear that if the nomination fails, there are no backup plans in the works.

For the White House, it’s Brett Kavanaugh or bust. They have no Plan B and there’s not even discussion of one, according to five sources with direct knowledge of the sensitive internal White House talks.

What they’re saying: “He’s too big to fail now,” said a senior source involved in the confirmation process. “Our base, our voters, our side, people are so mad,” the source continued. “There’s nowhere to go. We’re gonna make them f—ing vote. [Joe] Manchin in West Virginia, in those red states. Joe Donnelly? He said he’s a no? Fine, we’ll see how that goes. There will be a vote on him [Kavanaugh]. … It will be a slugfest of a week…”

Why this matters: When Trump spoke to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Saturday afternoon, he told them, “I don’t need a backup plan,” in case Kavanaugh’s nomination collapses.

So the deplorables would be too furious for words if Kavanaugh is scuttled, which means he won’t be. Toxic masculinity and misogyny reign supreme among Trump’s most loyal voters.

But whether the nomination survives isn’t really up to Trump. It’s up to Flake, Collins and Murkowski. And about that: Jeff Flake gave an interview with 60 Minutes (alongside Senator Coons) and stated directly that if Kavanaugh lied to the Senate, then the nomination is over.

Q: If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the Committee, nomination’s over?

FLAKE: Oh yes.

COONS: I would think so.

Of course, we already know that Kavanaugh lied under oath again and again. He didn’t even try to appear credible in his lies. So if Flake is being truthful, this should already be a done deal.

Jeff Flake being Jeff Flake, the likeliest event is that he treats the FBI’s weeklong hyper-limited sham investigation as the final word, ignores the many obvious lies, and votes for Kavanaugh anyway. But that is by no means certain, especially if more negative information comes to light.

The intransigence of Trump and his base has created a conundrum: it would have been far easier to find a less controversial nominee in the first place. It would have been easier to shift nominees and confirm someone else during the lame duck session. Now they’re stuck in an untenable position.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.