“To be honest with you,” Orrin Hatch told CNN’s Manu Raju, “I’m tired of the partisanship.” The president pro tempore of the Senate will soon head into retirement, but not before ensuring the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and taking one last shot at Senate Democrats. In an op-ed for USA Today, Hatch blasted Democrats for going “borking mad” on a character-assassination campaign against a “choir boy“:
To Bork, or not to Bork?
For Senate Democrats, that is the question.
It’s actually not much of a question these days. Senate Democrats announced their intention to block Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court even before Trump selected Kavanaugh, “choir boy” or not. The borking began almost immediately, and it has only escalated from there:
In their zeal to portray Judge Kavanaugh as the embodiment of our greatest fears, Democrats have gone borking mad. As if announcing a professional wrestling match, Sen. Richard Blumenthal described Judge Kavanaugh as nothing less than “your worst nightmare.” Sen. Kamala Harris went a step further when she warned that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would result in the “destruction of the Constitution of the United States.” But Sen. Jeff Merkley one-upped them all when he stated, with no hint of irony, that Judge Kavanaugh “is a nominee who wants to pave the path to tyranny.” …
In recent days, liberal rhetoric has taken an even more apocalyptic turn. Take, for example, the letter signed by hundreds of Yale Law School alumni, students and faculty prophesying that “people will die if (Judge Kavanaugh) is confirmed.”
Or consider Sen. Cory Booker’s declaration that anyone supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is “complicit (in) evil” — or his biblical allusion likening this political moment to “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.”
There’s another parallel to Bork in play here too, although Hatch doesn’t mention it. Bork, then Solicitor General, was the man who pulled off the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” during Watergate. He agreed to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox after Attorney General Eliot Richardson or deputy AG William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out Richard Nixon’s order. His actions during Watergate played no small role in the open hostility toward Bork during his confirmation hearings a little over a decade later. It’s difficult to believe that Kavanaugh’s participation in Ken Starr’s probe of Bill Clinton — which led directly to his impeachment by the House twenty years ago — isn’t playing some role in this hyperbolic reaction today.
Still, that undergirds Hatch’s argument that Senate Democrats have gone “borking mad” in this case, as well as in others. Their success in character assassination with Bork led to their blockade on Miguel Estrada, one of the more qualified nominees in recent memory for an appellate bench appointment, due to their fears that Estrada’s promotion would allow George W. Bush the opportunity to nominate the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, as Timothy Carney reminded readers when Harry Reid changed Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster on almost all presidential appointments:
Liberal writer Dahlia Lithwick at Slate covered the upheaval around the filibuster and chastised Republicans for “the grotesque claim that Estrada is being blocked because he is Hispanic.”
But of course, that was why Democrats were filibustering Estrada. In November 2001, as Democrats debated whether to undertake an unprecedented filibuster of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, liberal groups met with Senate Democrats.
We know about this meeting because Republican Judiciary Committee staffers improperly gained access to the Democrats’ server and downloaded Dems’ emails and documents. In one purloined email, an aide to Dick Durbin told his boss that liberal activists in the meeting “identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment.”
So yeah, we’ve been on this trajectory for a long, long time — a point which Hatch makes to Raju too. He got a little more earthy in his extemporaneous remarks to Raju, lamenting the “partisan, picky, stupid, dumbass road” that has developed over judicial nominations in the Senate. Sounds like a great opportunity for someone to parody Lindsay Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” Any takers? Deedlee-deedlee-deedlee-deedlee, bork-bork. It writes itself!
Full Hatch quote, said dumbass "road" not "role." "We can’t keep going down this partisan, picky, stupid, dumbass road that has happened around here for so long. I am sick and tired of it to be honest with you and I’m tired of the partisanship,”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) August 2, 2018