If your instinct when faced with an uncomfortable question is to duck and run screaming in the opposite direction, maybe rethink the Spartacus comparisons.
Senator Booker on the allegation against Lt. Gov Fairfax:
“I think we should be focusing on what’s right now happening with the Governor. I know you guys are going to try to focus on a lot of things right now, but right now my focus is on again calling for the Gov. to step down.
— Alan He (@alanhe) February 5, 2019
That’s not just gutless, it’s poor strategy. The reason Democrats are paying attention to Justin Fairfax’s accuser is that they don’t want to immediately stumble into a #MeToo nightmare for the party if he becomes governor. It’s now a key consideration in their dilemma over what to do about Northam. Booker’s non-answer to that is to stay focused on pushing Northam out and worry about Fairfax later. The unhappy truth for Dems is that as unpleasant as Northam’s yearbook scandal is, it’s more politically manageable than Fairfax’s scandal would be if it blows up. Democrats are somewhat insulated from charges of racism because of how strongly black Americans support them, plus they’ve already covered their rears by having every A-lister in the party denounce Northam and call on him to resign. If he ignores all of that and stays put, oh well. They tried. It’s not like black voters will turn around tomorrow and conclude that Democrats as a group are racist.
Fairfax is trickier because of how his situation parallels Brett Kavanaugh’s at the moment. There’s no easy call for Dems like there was in denouncing Northam. If they side with Fairfax’s accuser they’re endorsing the idea that it’s okay to ruin a rising political star’s career over an unsupported allegation. If they side with Fairfax they’ll be accused of a partisan double standard with respect to Kavanaugh and Ford, and they risk being hung out to dry in case Fairfax’s accuser suddenly produces evidence of the truth of her claim. Why did the party give him the benefit of the doubt, they’ll be asked, instead of her? Do they #BelieveAllWomen or don’t they?
You can see why Spartacus ran for the hills when asked.
Earlier today I asked the chatterati on Twitter why Fairfax should be given any benefit of the doubt considering that one of the rationales for borking Kavanaugh was that it’s not worth taking a chance on someone who might be guilty. We can find a million other qualified people. Why hand great power to a man who’s been accused by a seemingly credible woman of a heinous sexual offense? Among the replies:
1. Kavanaugh had multiple accusers, not just one like Fairfax. That’s true, but the Julie Swetnick stuff went nowhere and Deborah Ramirez’s hazy recollections were the product of “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney.” Ford was the only accuser who testified and by the time of the confirmation hearing the question for the Senate was a basically straightforward test of whether Ford’s testimony was compelling enough on its own to block Kavanaugh. If Fairfax’s accuser speaks publicly and appears credible, I’ll be keen to hear lefties pursue the “hey, it’s only one woman” defense.
2. Unlike Fairfax, Kavanaugh was up for a lifetime appointment. Uh, right, but … it cannot possibly be the case that whether a public official should be allowed to skate on a sexual assault allegation depends on how long their term in office is. Lifetime appointees get no benefit of the doubt but a guy who could govern Virginia until midway through the next decade enjoys a pass? (Fairfax would face voters in 2021, at least.) What should we do if a member of the Fed’s board of governors, each of whom serves a 14-year term, is accused of rape? “Intermediate scrutiny” in that case? It’s an inane argument. Besides, didn’t Democrats spend most of the month of October last year vowing to re-investigate the charges against Kavanaugh once they took over the House and impeach him if new evidence of guilt is uncovered? Lifetime appointees can be removed. Although, thanks to the discomfort the Fairfax situation is causing, I’ll bet House Democrats are now more reluctant to revisit the Kavanaugh fiasco than they were before.
3. There’s no meaningful difference between Fairfax and Kavanaugh, but Democrats privately believe they’ve already hounded too many of their own out of office over #MeToo matters. This reply didn’t come to me via a public tweet, rather via DM by someone in media. That person’s theory, which I think is correct, is that the pass Dems gave Keith Ellison on the abuse allegations against him was a turning point inasmuch as it showed they’ve lost their appetite for sexual-misconduct showdowns with party politicians. Maybe that’s because they regret having lost Al Franken, maybe it’s because they’re bitter about Kavanaugh’s confirmation and have decided that if the right won’t move against their own guys over #MeToo stuff then Dems would be fools to unilaterally disarm. They’ll be damned now if they toss a promising young star like Justin Fairfax to the wolves on the basis of one measly uncorroborated sex-crime allegation.
The problem is that they can’t admit that that’s what’s driving them to lay off Fairfax for now. It would be viewed correctly as an admission that ousting Franken was a mistake and it’d be seen as a betrayal of sexual-assault survivors. They’ll need to come up with some “neutral” rationale for giving Fairfax the benefit of the doubt. What will it be?
Again: You can see why Spartacus wanted no part of this.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s Bernie Sanders pretending to be on the phone in order to avoid a question about Fairfax. So hard to pin these guys down!
Bernie is back and and this time he is taking fake phone calls to dodge questions about if he believes Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax’s accuser… WATCH THIS: pic.twitter.com/y6n83qPKit
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) February 5, 2019