I should stress that this was — was — the position of various Democratic candidates as of 24 hours ago.
I believe it was the former attorney general of California who was first out of the chute in wanting to hang Kavanaugh professionally for an incident which the alleged victim doesn’t recall happening.
I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people. He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice.
He must be impeached.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 15, 2019
The other prominent woman candidate in the race quickly followed suit, not wanting to be slow on a blockbuster #MeToo allegation against a right-wing villain:
Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him. Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 15, 2019
Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro also joined the parade yesterday, per WaPo, while Joe Biden issued a statement calling for further investigation. As late as mid-morning today, the dopiest Democratic superstar in Congress was chiming in with an impeachment call of her own:
This was almost a year ago.
It is unsurprising that Kavanaugh, credibly accused of sexual assault, would lie under oath to secure a Supreme Court seat.
Because sexual assault isn’t a crime of passion – it’s about the abuse of power.
He must be impeached.pic.twitter.com/9PhrgeYuHv
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 16, 2019
That tweet was quietly and mysteriously deleted shortly after a billion right-wingers replied to it by noting that the alleged victim in the new Times story isn’t actually accusing Kavanaugh of anything. Then it was re-posted after people began chattering about the deletion. That’s evidence of the conundrum Dems are now caught in: They went out on a limb in trusting the Times’s reporting, then that limb got sawed off. What do they do now?
No one forthrightly admits error in American politics anymore, particularly not on something as supercharged with partisanship as a sexual assault allegation against a sitting Supreme Court justice. The 2020 Democratic impeachment choir will have to double down as AOC did, probably by claiming that they didn’t mean he should be impeached for the new allegation made by Max Stier but for the old allegation made by Deborah Ramirez. That’s opportunistic nonsense but it would be disqualifying for any Democratic candidate to relent in the Kavanaugh wars, proof that they’re unwilling to “fight” for left-wing grievances if elected president. Better for Harris and the rest to stick to their guns and keep smearing the guy than to admit a mistake. Look how well never apologizing has worked for Trump!
I’m curious to see what Pelosi says, though, since she’s cautious about bold gambits with high backfire potential for the party. Axios published a piece this morning, before the hubbub over the Times’s walkback of the Stier claim, noting that Dems were planning to make three Republicans the face of their 2020 push — Trump, of course, and Mitch McConnell and … Brett Kavanaugh, fueled by the new NYT report. “Each of these white men, they will argue, symbolizes Republican corruption and rule-bending,” said Axios. What happens to the Kavanaugh prong of that strategy now that the Times story has been undermined, though, with righties newly indignant about the justice being smeared? What happens if, say, Pelosi’s caucus holds hearings about Kavanaugh and they haul in Christine Blasey Ford’s childhood friend, Leland Keyser, for questioning? Keyser was supposedly at the party where Kavanaugh assaulted Ford — yet the same reporters who wrote this weekend’s NYT smear piece note in their new book, almost in passing, that Keyser has said of Ford, “I don’t have any confidence in the story.” Imagine her saying that on national television while Democrats are trying to trump up an impeachment case against Kavanaugh. Ed has further thoughts about that in a post coming up, so stay tuned.
Needless to say, if the Times had screwed the left as badly as it screwed Kavanaugh supporters this weekend, there’d already be a groveling navel-gazing quote somewhere from executive editor Dean Baquet about the paper needing to do better. As I write this at 11 a.m. ET, though, there’s nothing by way of an apology or even a formal correction on the Corrections page, just that “editor’s note” that everyone’s buzzing about. It’s impossible to believe that the detail about Kavanaugh’s alleged victim not remembering the assault was accidentally omitted: As Rich Lowry said, how can it be that the editors of the story never asked if the victim had any comment and the authors of the story, who knew the victim didn’t support the claim, never volunteered that detail? “In any normal editorial culture, an allegation which the alleged victim refuses to confirm would not be considered publishable,” noted former Popular Mechanics editor Jim Meigs. “To publish it without even acknowledging the lack of confirmation is nothing short of astounding.” The paper’s now had to append that inconvenient “editor’s note” to the online version of the story after the outcry from Kavanaugh supporters but presumably anyone who exclusively reads the print version of the newspaper — a lot of older liberals, in other words — will remain blissfully in the dark about it. How does the paper correct the mistaken impression it’s left with them without a formal retraction in print?
The best evidence of how bad the Times looks this morning is the fact that even a Trump-hater as hardcore as Joe Scarborough is disgusted by it. Morning Joe would naturally enjoy making POTUS squirm over a new allegation against his second Court appointee, particularly with Dems planning to try to weaponize Kavanaugh against the party next fall. But he can’t do it. The smear’s just too sleazy.