Nonetheless, the general practice is for nominees to pose as political naïfs, glad-handing awkwardly as they are squired around Capitol Hill by handlers who introduce them to senators and prep them for the gauntlet. This pageantry is part of a process in which nominees from both parties pretend, implausibly, not to have ideological precommitments.

Kavanaugh, however, is an experienced political hand: He worked for Independent Counsel Ken Starr while he was investigating the Clinton administration, and was reportedly in favor of particularly aggressive tactics; he served in the George W. Bush administration first as an associate White House counsel and then as staff secretary, a crucial behind-the-scenes role. His first nomination to the federal bench was stalled, in part, because Democrats decried his partisanship; he eventually succeeded in 2006.

In keeping with his resume, Kavanaugh has approached his nomination battle more like a political operative than a staid federal judge. Between the Fox interview and a fiery letter that he released on Monday, Kavanaugh doesn’t seem content to sit back and wait for the White House political team to defend him. Perhaps not since Robert Bork has a Supreme Court nominee fought so aggressively for himself.