No idea what this means. Presumably she wants the GOP to agree not to question Christine Blasey Ford about her personal background, e.g., sexual habits, drinking habits, and so forth, such that the hearing ends up with Ford being dragged through the mud.

I’m in the minority among the commentariat, though, in believing that it’s unlikely they’ll do that anyway. The optics of the hearing are already so terrible for Republicans, and the damage among women voters already so potentially grave, that they’ll be respectful of Ford out of self-interest if nothing else. Barring an unlikely meltdown of credibility at the hearing by Ford, it’s already a no-win situation for Republicans. Why make it worse by putting her through the wringer?

Whatever happens, this fiasco should emphatically not be televised.

Republicans have billed the public hearing as an opportunity for both Kavanaugh and Ford to share their sides of the story. GOP leaders made that decision under pressure from undecided members of their conference — chiefly Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a Judiciary member said he would vote against Kavanaugh in the committee if senators didn’t get more of a chance to hear from Ford. One Kavanaugh ally suggested that Katz, a well-respected veteran of high-profile sexual misconduct cases, has “tried to impose some serious conditions on” Ford’s testimony, though it’s unclear what those conditions are.

What if Ford skips the hearing? Is Kavanaugh sunk or does the confirmation process move ahead on the assumption that we can’t trust an allegation made by someone who wasn’t willing to stand by her claims publicly after being given the opportunity to do so? According to Trump nemesis Jeff Flake, it’ll be full speed ahead:

The right response, of course. A bare accusation by a single person is thin enough as is. To bork someone because of one when the accuser won’t even speak under oath would be unimaginable. I doubt even many rank-and-file Democrats would disagree.

On the other hand, I find it hard to oppose Feinstein on the following despite the fact that it would extend the hearing and that any further delay is bad for Kavanaugh and the GOP:

If you’re after the truth, not just a pro forma “both parties speak and then we can confirm Kavanaugh” session, then why wouldn’t you want to hear from Mark Judge? We know already that he’s going to say that he never saw Kavanaugh behave the way Ford describes. It’ll bolster the nominee’s credibility to have him say that on the record. And look: If the fear is that further delay will give Democrats time to wrangle a second accuser somewhere, that problem already exists potentially whether there’s a delay or not. Democrats will keep looking for another accuser even if Kavanaugh’s confirmed and sworn in. They’re going to extract a pound of flesh from Republicans in November for nominating him whether it means blocking him or demanding that he be impeached after he’s seated. Might as well delay and trot out a few witnesses like Judge who will help turn public opinion towards him. Besides, it may already be too late to nominate and confirm a replacement before the midterms if Kavanaugh drops out. In which case, if you’re forced to sink or swim with him, what’s the risk of a delay in the name of producing character witnesses?

Either way, this dumpster fire should most definitely not be on TV. Make it open to the public, by all means, and have print media on site to record the proceedings. But no cameras. The grandstanding incentives will literally never be higher than they will on Monday. What’s worse, as Axios’s sources astutely note, the “facts” gathered at the hearing will mainly be a matter of how the witnesses “perform.”

“Judge Kavanaugh could nail it and she could be terrible. But here’s my fear: This all depends so much on the performances of two people.”

“And that’s a lot to have outside your control, and that’s not even accounting for the members themselves doing something stupid.”

“It’s the circus of it. It’s designed for TV, it’s not designed for answers. You’re just adding a huge element of the unexpected and the unpredictable.”

Ford has every incentive to dissolve into tears, Kavanaugh has every incentive to be righteously angry about the attack on his reputation. Facts are secondary; their own convictions in their respective narratives, as measured by the intensity of their emotion, will basically be the entirety of the “facts” on which judgment is ultimately passed. It’s a sh*tshow in the making. Removing the cameras will reduce the pressure to “perform” somewhat, at least.

WaPo’s Robert Costa previewed the hearing last night, wondering if events won’t shift to the point where it doesn’t happen at all:

Note the last two tweets especially. Republicans will need to be respectful of Ford in their questioning but Democrats will need to be disrespectful of Kavanaugh in theirs, particularly 2020 wannabes like Booker and Harris. Because this idiotic spectacle depends so much on performance, Kavanaugh might sink his chances of confirmation for no better reason than that Democrats on the panel succeed in making him look and sound defensive with their aggressive interrogation. Did he stammer? Did he pause too long while trying to remember where he was on a given night 35 years ago? Well, then, he’s obviously shady and hiding something. We’re basically going to have a de facto trial in which (a) the defendant is guilty until proven innocent and (b) the charge against him never would have provided enough probable cause to secure an indictment in the first place.

Via the Free Beacon, a few stellar moments from CNN and MSNBC proving how seriously the right’s enemies are taking this hearing as a “fact-finding” exercise.