Kavanaugh has become a stand-in for Republicans, Christians and self-identified “deplorables” who feel bullied and smeared by liberals, while Ford has come to symbolize the many women who have been victimized with impunity by powerful men.

“It’s the culture war on steroids, an incredible divide and intense to the point where people won’t talk to each other in some cases,” said William J. Bennett, a conservative commentator and former education secretary in the Reagan administration. “You have the anti-Trump resistance, the MeToo movement and the Supreme Court making for a perfect storm of controversy.”…

But many prominent Republicans and Democrats say they have never seen a nomination process like this one, with the hyper-charged politics, 24-7 news coverage and social media firestorms. They say the contentiousness surpasses the failed high-court bid of Robert Bork in 1987 and Justice Clarence Thomas’s hearings in 1991, when he was accused of sexual harassment.