Out: It's sexist for Republican men to question Ford. In: It's sexist for Republican men not to question her.

Here’s the exciting sequel to last week’s double feature. You remember that one. Out: Ford must be allowed to testify at a hearing. In, after Republicans agreed: Ford absolutely should not testify at this sham hearing.

I can’t imagine why Trump thinks this process has been a kind of con.

This is just one take on the NYT op-ed page for the moment, but now that Chuck Grassley has hired a woman former prosecutor to do the questioning on Thursday, expect it to be liberal conventional wisdom soon. The endgame is to discredit the Republican approach to Ford, regardless of what that approach ends up being.

The Republicans’ plan is sexist. Handing off the questioning of Dr. Blasey to female staff members would be a gross departure from Senate practice and based on the risible idea that the questioning of sexual assault survivors is “women’s work.”

Whether it was female prosecutors clustered in rape and child-abuse units or suddenly becoming very in demand when it came to time to cross-examine plaintiffs injured from allegedly defective “female” products, the consensus was that “it takes a woman to know a woman.” Again and again, women are told that these are their only real opportunities in courtrooms — and now, apparently, Senate hearings. What looks like an invitation for advancement may actually be enclosure in what I call the Vagina Ghetto, a restricted space outside of which women are not welcome. We need to stop reinforcing this tired trope.

If nothing else good comes from this humiliating confirmation sh*tshow, a rolling disgrace to the country even by the lofty standards of disgrace in 2018, the mainstreaming of the term “Vagina Ghetto” would be a blessing to us all.

The idea that it’s sexist for Grassley to defer to a woman attorney at the hearing and deprive Democrats of their talking point that it’s sexist of him not to defer to one is already being picked up among progressive movers and shakers. Here’s Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and an alumna of Hillary 2016, encouraging Ford to refuse to answer any questions that aren’t asked of her by left-wing hate objects:


Another out/in formulation, then. Out: A hearing is needed so that Ford can tell her story. In: Ford should refuse to tell her story unless the format is maximally conducive to Democratic attack ads this fall.

You might ignore Tanden on grounds that she is, after all, a highly placed political operative and hackish arguments like the one above are what political operatives are paid to do. It’d be weird if she wasn’t demagoging Grassley for denying Democrats a convenient talking point. But … what’s the explanation for this?

“In our view, the hiring of an unnamed ‘experienced sex crimes prosecutor’…is contrary to the Majority’s repeated emphasis on the need for the Senate and this Committee’s members to fulfill their constitutional obligations,” Bromwich wrote.

“It is also inconsistent with your stated wish to avoid a ‘circus,’ as well as Dr. Blasey Ford’s repeated requests through counsel that senators conduct the questioning. This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate,” he said.

That comes from a letter sent to Grassley by Michael Bromwich — one of Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers. Ford’s not a political operative, we’ve been told. She’s a private citizen who wants nothing more than to tell the Committee about what Kavanaugh allegedly did to her. She’ll be asked standard questions at the hearing about gaps in her memory, etc, no matter who’s asking them.

So why would she care if it’s a woman lawyer who’s asking instead of, say, Ted Cruz? Gabe Malor’s conclusion is inescapable: “Dr. Ford’s insistence that she be questioned only be senators and not counsel experienced with and sensitive to sex crimes is baffling. It’s like she wants it to be a circus.” It’s almost as if.

Exit question: Has Ford left for Washington yet? I’ve seen Republicans asking that today on Twitter with no answers forthcoming. It’s a fair question. Ford says she’s afraid to fly and therefore needs to travel by ground transportation — all the way from Palo Alto. If she hasn’t left yet, how likely is it that we’re still having a hearing on Thursday?

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