We’ve already reached the point where those who express any doubt about Ford’s account are, for all intents and purposes, deemed complicit in the attempted rape of a teenaged girl.
Among the latest members of that group: Dianne Feinstein, I guess.
From colleague Connor Marley. Feinstein on Ford. Says Ford "is a woman that has been, I think, profoundly impacted, on this..I can't say that everything is truthful. I don't know."
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 18, 2018
On the one hand, what else can she say? As surely as the sun rises and sets, every Democrat in the Senate, Feinstein included, will claim to believe Ford over Kavanaugh by next Monday evening. But in the meantime they have to remain nominally undecided on the facts of what happened. They’re staying open-minded ‘n stuff until the hearing.
On the other hand, we’re in quite a pickle as a country over an accusation that came out of Feinstein’s office, yet which DiFi herself doesn’t sound all that confident in. This is why I offered two theories a few days ago of why she held onto Ford’s letter for so long, even past the confirmation hearing. One possibility is that Democrats planned from the start to spring Ford’s accusation at the last moment, to maximize the element of surprise, and Feinstein played it close to the vest because that’s what a good ambush requires.
But the other possibility is that Feinstein herself isn’t as sure about Ford’s account as she’d like to be, maybe to the point where she thought it’d be dirty pool to fling it at Kavanaugh. It might have been one of her staffers who forced the issue by leaking the letter, angry that the boss wasn’t using every weapon at hand to stop him. Maybe she and her team did a little digging over the summer into the nuts and bolts of Ford’s story and weren’t impressed with what they found. How much of your own credibility would you want to stake on an accuser who can’t remember the time or place that a life-changing attack on her happened?
Anyway. After a million righties freaked out over her earlier comment, Feinstein’s now walking it back:
Feinstein just now clarifies: “Look I believe she is credible. What we have wanted is an investigation carried out to look at the facts before there was a hearing. The republican majority is apparently not going to do that. But based on what I know at this stage she is credible.” https://t.co/yDldaHTrDe
— Alan He (@alanhe) September 18, 2018
As I write this at 8:15 p.m. ET it’s still an open question as to whether Ford will testify. The latest is that she wants an FBI investigation before appearing before the committee, which reeks of a delay tactic and a pretext to avoid having to testify. (The FBI wouldn’t have jurisdiction over a crime like the one she’s alleging even if it happened yesterday.) Senate Republicans, eager not to be seen as forcing her into a spotlight that might make her uncomfortable, have apparently offered to let her testify in closed session if she prefers. (A non-public hearing is a cinch to be more substantive than the alternative.) Which leaves Democrats in a bind: Realistically, the only way they can lose on the politics of this fiasco is by Ford choosing not to appear. Virtually any outcome in which the hearing happens and she shows up works out well for them. No matter how shaky her testimony is, everyone inclined to believe her for partisan reasons will believe her. (Same with Kavanaugh, of course.) If so much as one Republican gets aggressive with her, Democrats will mine it for “war on women” attack ads for weeks. Even if Republicans are polite, the left’s friends in the media are already hammering the fact that all 11 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are white men. What right do they have to question her?
Dems can’t lose — unless Ford decides not to speak, irrespective of what sort of excuse she offers. That’s the one surefire way to get even some sympathizers to question her account. A no-show would leave Feinstein and her caucus looking foolish for having stood up for Ford and leave Kavanaugh looking like a man of integrity in his own comparative willingness to come before the Committee. It would also leave Republicans with no choice but to confirm him. Trump enemy Bob Corker, who demanded that Ford be heard, says it’s game over if she doesn’t show:
Impt comments from Sen Corker on Tuesday:. “So that would be quite something, if she decided she did not want to testify. I would assume the committee would then move on as they should.”
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) September 18, 2018
Do it under oath. Meanwhile, Fox News reported today that allies of Kavanaugh say he’s told them that he doesn’t know Ford — an awfully bold, even reckless assertion. If he plants his flag at the hearing on the fact that they’re not acquainted, all it would take to finish him off is a photo, even a group photo, of the two together. You wouldn’t even need that, really, just a witness who says they remember Kavanaugh and Ford being at the same party. It’s weird that he’d want to change the inquiry from “Was there a rape?” to “Did the two ever meet?” but that may be where we’re headed. Fox also reports that “significant gaps” in Ford’s timeline might be filled in over the next few days by third parties, which means … God only knows what. What “gap” is there in any timeline here? Is someone going to claim that Ford told them about the incident before 2012? Or are they going to say that they remember a party on a particular date and that Ford and Kavanaugh were both there? Because either claim might mean curtains for him.
Here’s DiFi. Exit quotation from NRO contributor Tiana Lowe: “The best way to respect an issue as delicate as a rape accusation is to sit on it for two months, fail to question the accused under oath, leak it to the press at the 11th hour, wield it politically, and then wildly backpedal your support for said victim.”
Feinstein's "I can't say everything is truthful" quote is accurate. Just ran on Fox. pic.twitter.com/MEkrRgG8oV
— Elliott Schwartz (@elliosch) September 18, 2018