Good lord. He really has gone full MAGA.
This is goofy, but goofy in a specifically Trumpy (and Avenatti-esque) way. The fact that it’s strategically dopey and would damage his own party is secondary to the fact that it evinces an appetite to fight fight fight fight fight. Bork our nominee? Why, we’ll stuff the nomination right down your throats and force you to bork him again! That’s how strongly we believe in our own cause. Fight fight fight!
Watch, then read on:
Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC on if Kavanaugh loses a Senate floor vote: "I would re-nominate him and I would take this case to the American people." #Hannity https://t.co/WR4Cwn1MnU pic.twitter.com/RNSRJysTzR
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 2, 2018
Game this out. If Kavanaugh ends up being borked, it’ll necessarily mean that Flake and at least Collins or Murkowski (or both) found something uncovered by the FBI to be so alarming that they felt they had no choice but to vote no, despite tremendous pressure from their own base to the contrary. That means any renomination of Kavanaugh next year would necessarily begin with bipartisan opposition — not just on ideological grounds but on grounds that the nominee probably either sexually assaulted someone(!!) or perjured himself in testimony before the Judiciary Committee. How would you like to be, say, Rick Scott, newly elected senator from the purple state of Florida, and have your first floor vote in January be on whether to confirm a guy who’s been deemed too rape-y by some of your own Republican colleagues?
Would that be a smart vote to force Scott or Josh Hawley or Martha McSally to take? How about the many Republican senators facing a tough map in 2020 — smart to force them through another round of Kavanaugh sweepstakes? Do you think McConnell would look forward to that vote? Do you think other Republican pols coast to coast would look forward to being asked, “Susan Collins, a member of your own party, thinks it’s more likely than not that Judge Kavanaugh lied under oath. Do you believe he should be confirmed anyway?”
Needless to say, as sleazy as the last two weeks have been, renominating Kavanaugh in January would force the party and the country through a second iteration of all of it. There’ll be more Avenatti-sponsored accusers like Julie Swetnick, more thinly sourced but damaging media hit pieces, more “rough justice” arguments that Kavanaugh must be borked in order to reassure sex-crime victims that they’ll be believed if they come forward. Except this time, in all likelihood, the House will be under Democratic control and the House Judiciary Committee will launch its own investigation of the nominee. They can’t stop a Republican Senate from confirming him but they can produce many days of bad headlines for him and inflict more political pain on the GOP by inviting Ford, Deborah Ramirez, possibly Swetnick, and anyone else they fancy to testify.
Bear in mind, Kavanaugh’s polling has already declined a bit. The bottom hasn’t fallen out yet but that’s because both sides are intensely invested in winning this fight at the moment. Renominating him in January will sound good to Trumpers who want revenge for him being borked but other members of the party, and not just the squishy Flakes in the middle, will be ready to move on. Social conservatives cried out for Amy Coney Barrett as the nominee in July, before Kavanaugh was nominated. Having endured the present fiasco only to see it end in failure, some (not all, but some) will want to know why we should double down on a guy who was deemed “too establishment” when he was first nominated instead of seizing the opportunity to put Barrett on the Court. She’d stand a real chance of getting confirmed by a redder Senate. She’d even stand a chance of being supported by Collins and Murkowski, both of whom will be desperate to put this Kavanaugh nightmare behind them. Voting for a strongly pro-life woman nominee will look better to them under the circumstances than it did in July.
Frankly, I wonder after this episode if Kavanaugh would even want to be renominated. Would he be willing to go through it again or prefer to return to the D.C. Circuit and put the entire mess behind him?
Here’s a clip of then-Rep. Graham that’s making the rounds today among lefties. Expect to see more of it if the FBI comes back with evidence that Kavanaugh misled the Committee in his testimony last week.